He was an actor par excellence, a Rhodes scholar, and recipient of the Jnanpith award, but what Girish Karnad liked most was being a playwright.
The 81-year-old, who died Monday, had made his preference known in an interview he gave a few years ago.
"I have been fairly lucky in having a multi-pronged career. You know I have been an actor, a publisher, and a film-maker. But in none of these fields have I felt quite as much at home as in playwriting," Karnad had said.
Karnad also maintained his links with Maharashtra, where he was born in 1938 at the Matheran hill station near Mumbai.
His father Raghunath Karnad was a Medical Officer in the Sassoon Hospital at Pune. Girish Karnad was first admitted to Tarabai Modak School and later on he joined Modern High School at Pune. His family members spoke Marathi despite their mother tongue being Kannada.
During his college days, Girish acted in the Marathi plays Sharada by G B Deval and Amaldar by P L (Pu La) Deshpande.
Karnad came to Mumbai to complete his post graduation. He was selected as Dakshina Fellow for his MA degree in the Department of Statistics, University of Bombay during 1958-59.
During his stay in Mumbai he watched many English, Marathi and Hindi plays. He was amazed to see Strindberg's Miss Julie directed by the brilliant young Ebrahim Alkazi.
About that performance, Karnad had said, "What impressed me as much as the psychological cannibalism of the play was the way lights faded in and out on stage with the instruments called dimmers. That evening, I decided to be a playwright."
Karnad had also presided over the 70th Marathi Sahitya Sammelan (all India Marathi literary meet) in 1997 at Ahmednagar.
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