Noted playwright, actor and director Girish Karnad, a progressive voice that championed the freedom of expression, died at his residence in Bengaluru on Monday, official sources said. He was 81 and died due to age-related illness.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, actor and politician Kamal Hassan, Kerala MP Shashi Tharoor and more paid tributes to Karnad on Twitter. “Girish 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. May his soul rest in peace,” the Prime Minister tweeted.
“Mr.Girish Karnad, his scripts both awe and inspire me. He has left behind many inspired fans who are writers. Their works perhaps will make his loss partly bearable,” Kamal Hassan wrote in his tweet. His daughter and actor Shruti Haasan wrote, “May you rest in peace Girish Karnad sir. Your talent humour and sharp intellect will be missed.”
Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar wrote, “Deeply saddened by the news of the demise of Girsh Karnad ji. He will be remembered for his work as a Theater personality, film actor, and director. My deepest condolences to his family, friends & fans. #OmShanti.” Author Amitav Ghosh wrote, “Saddened to hear of the passing of Girish Karnad – a great writer and a very important public voice. Thoughts are with @rkarnad and his family.”
A multifaceted personality, Karnad has acted in several plays and movies that have received critical acclaim. Karnad, a recipient of Jnanpith Award, was also conferred the Padma Shri in 1974 and the Padma Bhushan in 1992. He was also a Rhodes Scholar from Oxford University, in the 1960s that earned him his Master of Arts degree in philosophy, political science and economics. His plays, written in Kannada, have been translated into English and several Indian languages. He made his acting debut and screenwriting debut in iconic Kannada movie, Samskara (1970), based on a novel by UR Ananthamurthy. It was directed by Pattabhirama Reddy and the film won the first President’s Golden Lotus Award for Kannada cinema.
Though he started off his career in cinema as an actor, he is best known as a writer and thinker. Karnad has acclaimed plays such as Nagmandala, Yayati and Tughlaq to his credit. He also worked in Hindi cinema’s parallel film movement in movies such as Swami, and Nishant.
His TV credits include Malgudi Days in which he played Swami’s father and a hosting stint in the science magazine Turning Point on Doordarshan in the early 1990s.