Well-known Indian playwright and actor, Girish Karnad passed away on Monday morning in Bengaluru after a prolonged illness.
A multi-faceted personality who turned 81 a few weeks back, Karnad was a recipient of the 1998 Jnanpith Award, the prestigious annual Indian literary recognition, for his numerous literary works. Many of his plays written in Kannada have been translated into English and several Indian languages, including those that have won him acclaim such as Nagmandala, Yayati and Tughlaq.
Born in May 1938, Karnad studied at Karnataka University and then went to the Oxford University to study philosophy, politics and economics as a Rhodes Scholar. He wrote his first play the critically-acclaimed Yayati at the age of 23. He entered films in 1970 with the Kannada movie ‘Samskara’ for which he wrote the screenplay and acted in a lead role. The iconic film went on to win the first President’s Golden Lotus Award for Kannada cinema.
He also contributed to Hindi cinema’s parallel film movement in movies such as ‘Swami’, and ‘Nishant’. He also ventured into commercial films with roles in Salman Khan’s ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ and in the Ajay Devgn-starrer ‘Shivaay’. His TV credits include ‘Malgudi Days’ in which he played Swami’s father, and a hosting stint in the early 1990s on Doordarshan’s science magazine ‘Turning Point’.
He was conferred the Padma Shri in 1974, and the Indian government awarded him the Padma Bhushan, the country’s second highest civilian honor in 1992, in recognition of his contributions to the arts.