Veteran playwright-actor, Jnanpith winner Girish Karnad passes away at 81; condolences pour in

Jnanpith award winner, multi-lingual film actor and noted theatre personality Girish Karnad passed away on Monday, an official said. He was 81

Jnanpith award winner, multi-lingual film actor and noted theatre personality Girish Karnad (IANS)
Jnanpith award winner, multi-lingual film actor and noted theatre personality Girish Karnad (IANS)

NH Web Desk

Jnanpith award winner, multi-lingual film actor and noted theatre personality Girish Karnad passed away on Monday, an official said. He was 81.

"Karnad died at home at around 8:30 am due to age-related symptoms," said an official in the Karnataka Chief Minister's office. He succumbed to age related illness at his residence in Vittal Mallya Road, Bengaluru.

He used to work predominantly in South Indian cinema, before working with Bollywood. He rose to fame as a Kannada playwright in the 1960s. He was not just a Jnanpith Award recipient in 1998 but was also conferred the Padma Shri (1974), Padma Bhushan (1994) and the Sahitya Akademi Award (1994).

He has also won several accolades for direction in Kannada cinema including Kanooru Heggadithi. His film Vamsha Vriksha had won the won in the Best Film and Best Director categories in 1971. He was also a Rhodes Scholar from Oxford University, in the 1960s that earned him his Master of Arts degree in philosophy, political science and economics.

He was well known for using history and mythology to tackle many contemporary and controversial issues. He made his debut on screen and in screenwriting with a Kannada film called Samskara in 1970. The film was based on a novel by UR Ananthamurthy and was directed by Pattabhirama Reddy, which later went on to win the first President’s Golden Lotus Award for Kannada cinema.

Many of his films were translated into various Indian languages and were directed by acclaimed directors like Ebrahim Alkazi, BV Karanth and Alyque Padamsee among others.

Some of his popular Kannada movies include Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane, Ondanondu Kaladalli, Cheluvi, Kaadu and Kanooru Heggadithi.

He also played the role of Swami’s father, in the televised version of RK Narayan’s Malgudi Days on Doordarshan. He also hosted a science magazine called, "Turning Point" on Doordarshan in the early 1990s.

Though he started off his career in cinema as an actor, he is best known as a writer and thinker.

Karnad was one of the most prominent artistic voices of his generation.

He was an eminent playwright with works such as "Nagmandala", "Yayati" and "Tughlaq", which was one of the most successfully performed plays, to his credit.

He also worked in Hindi cinema's parallel film movement in movies such as "Swami", and "Nishant". In later years, Karnad was seen in commercial films such as Salman Khan's "Tiger Zinda Hai" and Ajay Devgn-starrer "Shivaay".

Many people expressed their condolences on Twitter, these are some of them;

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