A day after the passing away of legendary playwright, actor and public intellectual Girish Karnad, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi has written a letter to Karnad’s wife Saraswathy Karnad expressing her grief and conveying her condolences.
Calling Girish Karnad, “a towering figure in the cultural, artistic and political world” Sonia Gandhi said, “He was a literary genius both in Kannada and English, a superb playwright, actor and director.”
“He (Girish) was a man of utmost integrity, honour and unflinching courage who fought throughout his life for freedom of expression, social justice and secular values, often at enormous personal cost,” noted Sonia Gandhi in her letter.
Remembering the rich legacy of Karnad, Sonia Gandhi said, “His loss leaves a void that is impossible to fill. Girish Karnad leaves behind a priceless legacy in his literally work, which will keep his memory alive and honoured for ever… My thoughts are with you at this time of grief. May you find the strength to bear your loss.”
Known as the “renaissance man” of the Indian theatre, Karnad wrote more than 14 plays in Kannada, apart from his autobiography - Aadaatha Ayusha. He translated all his plays in English except his autobiography.
He also acted in over 100 films in various languages during the 70s and 80s.
A recipient of the 1998 Jnanpith Award, the highest literary honour conferred in India, Karnad is regarded as one of the fourth pillars that heralded modern age in Indian theatre, alongside Badal Sarkar in Bengali, Vijay Tendulkar in Marathi, and Mohan Rakesh in Hindi.
Paying tribute to Karnad, historian Ramachandra Guha said, “For no one I know has his breadth of knowledge and understanding of all our arts – music, literature, dance – of the North as well as of the South of India; of folk forms and of popular and classical genres as well. And he speaks and reads six Indian languages too.”