Writer, Playwright, Humanist: The Life and Work of Girish Karnad

Vibrant with colours and ideologies, Bangalore Literature Festival celebrated Girish Karnad as a local and international personality at the same time. The session provided an extended glimpse on Karnad’s life and works as a writer, playwright, and humanist. The two venues at the literature festival were named after Karnad’s plays Tughlaq and Yayati. Convener for the session Preethi Nagaraj introduced Karnad by reading out a line from his autobiography. The other three panelists were personalities from Kannada literature and films who had personal encounters with Karnad.

 

Jayant Kaikini, a poet, short story writer, public intellectual, and a lyricist in Kannada cinema regarded Karnad as a senior who had always been ready to provide a warm helping hand to all the newcomers. Furthermore, in the session, Jayant describes his encounters and experiences with Karnad and how he always supported the upcoming literature and artists. Girish Karnad believed that the entire world relies within the self and the self has the power to change the world. Jayant quoted Karnad, “…if I don’t talk I will be considered a fool if I do I will be proving myself” and tells us how he was critical of himself as a person.

 

Girish Karnad has been a part of the sensibility and psychological world of the Kannadigas, an image of inspiration and support, helping the Kannada literature to transform to a great extent. Karnad was a public intellectual and activist who in his last years in spite of declining health actively participated in protests. He was a man of remarkable personality and exhibited himself as a humanist as he always raised his voice against injustice. Jayant said that to understand Karnad as a person we should read his non-fiction works and autobiography, Karnad’s personal narrative is exclusive. We generally read or see his fiction works in the form of books and movies which gives us exposure to his excellence of creation while his non-fiction provides an extended glimpse of Karnad as a person.

 

Karnad as multilingual personality has motivated many people to acquire and write in different languages at once. Karnad is the only person who has translated his works from one language to another as mentioned by K Marulasiddappa. For him, Karnad has been a contemporary, not of competition but compliment. B Jayashree, a director, actress, and singer, enlightened us with the rich narrative of Karnad in his plays such as Hayavardana and Nagamandala. Jayashree also sang a song written by Karnad which was included in the movie from his own play Nagamandala where they both acted together. Screening of Karnad’s four-minute speech in this short session also found a place, which was his last time on camera extending gratitude on receiving Amar Ujala Award.

 

The session ended with the screening of his speech, which exhibited for us a detailed image of Karnad as an extraordinary man conferred with great ideologies. He was a writer par excellence and a versatile actor, very sensitive towards humanitarian aspects. Karnad has been regarded as oxygen to a sinking person even at times when he suffered from critical health issues. He was an ever-evolving, restless and rooted mind who gave a new identity to Kannada literature and cinema.

 

 

About the Author: Aditi Dua is a Masters student in English with Communication Studies who has a knack for aesthetics and poetry. Apart from being a literature enthusiast, she highly celebrates challenging ideologies and provide disputing ideas of death. Always available for a conversation over good coffee. She currently writes for TheSeer.

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