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Home » Entertainment » Obituary: Veteran actor and multifaceted author Girish Karnad’s demise brings end to an era in Indian theatre

Obituary: Veteran actor and multifaceted author Girish Karnad’s demise brings end to an era in Indian theatre

Karnad was a prominent playwright for four decades, often using history and mythology to tackle contemporary issues.

By Newsd
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Obituary | Veteran actor and multifaceted author Girish Karnad's demise brings end to an era in Indian theatre

Veteran film and theatre personality Girish Karnad passed away aged 81, on June 10 at about 6:30 AM at his residence in Bengaluru.

He is survived by his wife Saraswathi, son Raghu Karnad, a journalist and writer and daughter Radha, a doctor based in Kenya.

Awarded the Padma Shri in 1974 and the Padma Bhushan in 1992, Girish Karnad was born on May 19, 1938, in Mumbai (then Bombay Presidency), and was a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford. His early schooling was in Marathi. At 14, his parents moved to Dharwad in Karnataka, where he was exposed to travelling theatre groups.

He completed his Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Mathematics and Statistics from Karnatak Arts College, Dharwad, in 1958. He then travelled to England and studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Magdalen in Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar (1960–63), earning his Master of Arts (MA) degree in Philosophy, Political Science and Economics.

Karnad was a prominent playwright for four decades, often using history and mythology to tackle contemporary issues. He wrote his first play – the critically-acclaimed “Yayati” in 1961. Other acclaimed plays written by him include “Tughlaq” (1964), “Hayavadana” (1972).

Karnad made his acting as well as screenwriting debut in the Kannada movie, Samskara in 1970, based on a novel by UR Ananthamurthy and directed by Pattabhirama Reddy. The film won the President’s Golden Lotus Award for Kannada cinema.

In television, he played the role of Swami’s father in the TV series Malgudi Days based on RK Narayan’s books. He also hosted the science magazine Turning Point on Doordarshan, in the early 1990s.

He made his directorial debut with Vamsha Vriksha (1971), based on a Kannada novel by SL Bhyrappa. It won him National Film Award for Best Direction along with BV Karanth, who co-directed the film. Later, Karnad directed several movies in Kannada and Hindi, including Godhuli (1977) and Utsav (1984).

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