Noted actor, filmmaker and playwright Girish Karnad passed away on Monday succumbed to a prolonged illness at his residence in Vittal Mallya Road, Bengaluru. He was 81 years old.

Work 

Girish Karnad was born on May 19, 1938, in Mumbai (then Bombay Presidency). He was a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, where he wrote his first play – the critically-acclaimed “Yayati” in 1961.  “Tughlaq” (1964), “Hayavadana” (1972) are the other acclaimed plays written by him.

He was known for his work in South Indian cinema and Bollywood. He rose to fame with his coming of age of modern Indian playwriting in Kannada.

Karnad had his works translated into various Indian languages and helmed by directors like Ebrahim Alkazi, B V Karanth and Alyque Padamsee among others.

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

Some of his popular Kannada movies include Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane, Ondanondu Kaladalli, CheluviKaadu and Kanooru Heggaditi.

His Hindi movies include Nishaant, Manthan, Swami and Pukar. He had acted in a number of Nagesh Kukunoor films, starting with Iqbal, in which Karnad played the role of a ruthless cricket coach. This was followed by Dor8 x 10 Tasveer and Aashayein. In 2012, he played the role of a RAW chairman, Shenoy, in Salman Khan-starrer Ek Tha Tiger.

Awards

He was a recipient of the 1998 Jnanpith Award, the highest literary honour conferred in India.

He was also conferred the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan, and had won several accolades for direction in Kannada cinema.

Political activism

He was also a fearless social and political activist. He believed in using his literary skills and his popularity, as a platform to fight religious fundamentalism and defend freedom of expression.

In April, he was among some 200 writers from across the country who put out an open letter against the “politics of hate”.

In September last year, he was charged for holding a placard that read “Me Too Urban Naxal” at an event to mark one year of journalist Gaur Lankesh’s murder. He had protested against the house arrest of five activists who were accused of links with Maoists.

Condolences

PM Narendra Modi and Karnataka CM H D Kumaraswamy tweeted their condolences for the iconic film and theatre personality.

Modi wrote: “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.”

Former Chief Minister of Karnataka Sadananda Gowda also tweeted, in Kannada, saying: The news of the death of Gyanapitha awardee, senior theater artist Dr. Girish Karnad, was revealed. His contribution to the Saraswat world is vast. Let us pray in the Lord that peace be to the soul.

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