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Girish Karnad has left behind a glorious legacy

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

MAY 19, 1938 - JUNE 10, 2019

Karnad would shoot for his intense indoor scenes in ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ wearing his breathing apparatus oxygen-tubes, to battle bouts of breathlessness.

Eminent Bollywood and Kannada movie veteran actor-director-playwright Girish Karnad, 81, passed away on Monday morning in Bengaluru after a prolonged illness.

He was FTII's director from January 1, 1974 to December 31, 1975 and later served as its chairman from February 1999 to October 2001, the official said.

Karnad was also the youngest director of FTII when he took charge of the post at the age of 35 years and, incidentally, some his students were older than him, he said.

"He introduced an 'Integrated Course' in the institute's syllabus that required students of one specialisation course to learn about various other specialisations as well. It is still in the syllabus in the form of a 'Common Course'," FTII Director Bhupendra Kainthola said..

Karnad himself translated noted Marathi playwright P L Deshpande's drama "Tuja Aahe Tujapashi", and attempted it on stage in Kannada, she added.

A multifaceted personality, he acted in several plays and movies that received critical acclamation. Renowned playwright, actor and Jnanpith awardee Girish Karnad, who left his indelible mark in the world of literature, theatre and cinema and at the FTII (Pune) passed away at his residence Monday morning after prolonged illness, official sources said.

A multi-faceted personality, who often courted controversies for his frank vocal stance, Karnad, 81, is survived by wife Saraswathi, son Raghu Karnad, a journalist and writer, and daughter Radha.

"He breathed his last around 8 am... And had been suffering with ailments including severe  breathing problems for some time now," sources close to Karnad's family said.

A recipient of  the Padma Bhushan, Karnad acted in and directed several plays and movies that earned critical acclaim.

As per his wishes, the family has decided ‘not’ to follow any religious ceremonies and not to accept state honours during the funeral, they said.

Declaring a holiday on Monday as a mark of respect to Karnad, the Chief Minister's office in a statement also announced a three-day state mourning.

The CMO said Karnad will also receive state honours, which is in line with respect given to other Jnanpith awardees in the past.

A highly revered member of the Konkani-speaking Chitrapur Saraswat Bhaanap Brahmin community, Girish was born in (Matheran ) Maharashtra in 1938 to Dr Raghunath Karnad and Krishnabai.

The family later shifted to Sirsi and Dharwad in Karnataka where he spent his formative years and the family's inclination to dramatic arts laid the foundation for his future in the literary world.

The suave articulate erudite Karnad has also acted in several Kannada and Hindi commercial movies, like ‘Manpasand’ where Tina Munim (Ambani)  and Dev Anand were his co-stars and the most recent being  "Tiger Zinda Hai". (2017).

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.

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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