BHUBANESWAR: Veteran multi-lingual actor, playwright and theatre personality Girish Karnad passed away at the age of 81. The multifaceted personality who had a career spanning over six decades was revered in the intellectual community of the country.
He directed several movies in Kannada and Hindi, including ‘Godhuli’ (1977) and ‘Utsav’ (1984). He also crafted a number of documentaries including ones on Kannada poet D. R. Bendre (1972), Kanaka-Purandara (English, 1988) two medieval Bhakti poets of Karnataka, Kanaka Dasa and Purandara Dasa among others. Many of his films and documentaries have won several national and international awards.
He was also conferred the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan, and had won several accolades for direction in Kannada cinema. His last play ‘Rakshasa Tangadi’, was published last year. He breathed his last on 10th June, 2019 at his residence in Bengaluru due to age-related problems.
Orissa POST interacted with theatre personalities of the state who paid homage to the legendary figure. Dipanwait Dashmohapatra, a theatre actor of the city, said, “Girisah Karnad was a true Renaissance man, who took theatre’s ‘freedom of expression’, to newer heights. He made an astounding impact as a playwright and actor. It’s not an exaggeration to say that a particular way of naturally getting into the character with such finesse can be categorized as Girish Karnad School.”
Filmmaker and producer Swastik Choudhury said, “From making science an everyday topic of discussion (Turning Point) for young minds to writing plays that moves you deeply, from Swami’s (Malgudi Days) stern father to poignant characters in acclaimed films, Girish Karnad touched humanity in various ways. An artist never breaks or succumbs. They manifest themselves in different forms to become the voice of the marginalised.”
Director Amartya Bhattacharya said, “I think his demise is a big loss for Indian theater. A man of his stature was always looked up to and he inspired several young stars. He was a multi-talented serious artist with a vision and a strong opinion. Indian theater will miss a very important playwright, many of whose plays have been adapted in various Indian languages and staged across the country.”
Theatre director Abhinna Routray said, “This is a great loss for our nation. I was reading his life history just a few days back. He was a versatile artiste. May his soul attain salvation.”
Ashok Kumar Kar, a theatre actor and director, said, “We needed him more than ever at this time of crisis. He was stronger than many of us put together when it came to protesting vehemently with dignity. He was legend and icon for many theatre people like us. He was master of many aspects such as acting, directing, playwright which is a rare credential and hard task for anyone.”
Actor Ajit Dash said that Karnad’s death signals the departure of a colossus who straddled many creative spheres and left a deep impression for over five decades across generations. “He is not just a regional theater personality but a person with great vision and innovation,” he said.
Subodh Patnaik, a theater director, said, “He was the first theatre personality of India who was invited by ITI of UNESCO to give a World Message on the occasion of World Theatre day. He said that theatre is not for amusement but to create a conflict on stage. This is evident in the first Indian classical drama produced by Natya Shastra writer Bharat Muni who showcased the fight between Gods and demons.”