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Girish Karnad, playwright, actor and director passes away at the age of 81

On his demise, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor tweeted, 'This is a devastating loss. A flame has been extinguished that lit up so many minds'

BS Web Team 

Girish Karnad, veteran actor and playwright, and Jnanpith awardee, passed away at the age of 81
Girish Karnad, veteran actor and playwright, and Jnanpith awardee, passed away at the age of 81

Noted playwright and Jnanpith awardee passed away on Monday. He was 81. Karnad succumbed to a prolonged illness at his residence on Vittal Mallya Road, Bengaluru.

On his demise, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor tweeted, "This is a devastating loss. A flame has been extinguished that lit up so many minds."

President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi also condoled the demise of veteran playwright and actor Girish Karnad, saying he will be remembered for his work for years to come.

President Kovind said with Karnad's demise India's cultural world has become poorer.

"Sad to hear of the passing of Girish Karnad, writer, actor and doyen of Indian theatre. Our cultural world is poorer today. My condolences to his family and to the many who followed his work," Kovind tweeted.

Modi said Karnad will be remembered for his versatile acting across all mediums.

"He also spoke passionately on causes dear to him. His works will continue being popular in the years to come. Saddened by his demise," he posted on Twitter.



Karnad rose to prominence with his coming of age of modern Indian playwriting in Kannada. He was a recipient of the 1998 Jnanpith Award, the highest literary honour conferred in India. He worked in both south Indian and Hindi cinema.

A Rhodes scholar, was also conferred the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan and had won several accolades for direction in Kannada cinema.

Karnad, who often used history and mythology to tackle contemporary issues, had his works translated into various Indian languages and helmed by directors like Ebrahim Alkazi, B V Karanth and Alyque Padamsee among others.

Karnad has written numerous plays in Kannada and is considered one of Kannada literature's foremost playwrights. His most famous include Yayati in 1961, Hayavadana in 1972 and Nagamandala in 1988. Tughlaq (1964), based on the 14th-century sultan Muḥammad bin Tughluq, made Karnad a name to reckon with among playwrights in the country.

He was one of a group of playwrights whose arrival marked the coming of age of modern Indian playwriting. It included Vijay Tendulkar in Marathi, Badal Sarkar in Bengali and Mohan Rakesh in Hindi.

Karnad had made his acting as well as screenwriting debut with a 1970 Kannada movie Samskara. In 2012, he played the role of a RAW chairman, Shenoy, in Salman Khan-starrer Ek Tha Tiger. He is also remembered for his role in the TV adaptation, Swami and Friends, based on R K Narayan's stories of the fictitious town of Malgudi.

Last year, the septuagenarian had come into the limelight for holding a placard 'Me Too Urban Naxal' during an event organised to mark the first death anniversary of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh on September 5 in the city.

First Published: Mon, June 10 2019. 10:45 IST