Girish Karnad, who has died aged 81, was India’s foremost playwright, in addition to a profitable movie director and standard actor, showing in arthouse movies in addition to hit Bollywood motion pictures resembling Ek Tha Tiger.
India’s obsession with cinema means Karnad was finest recognized for his appearing roles, however it’s for his performs, during which he usually used myths, folklore and historic occasions to look at the cultural, financial and social modifications in post-independence India, that he might be remembered. Strongly influenced by the thinker Krishnamurti, who questioned conventional Indian devotion to caste, faith and obligation, Karnad labored from the place that the person was the maker of his personal existence – relatively thatn topic to Hindu notions of destiny and karma.
Written within the south Indian language of Kannada, lots of his performs have been translated into English by Oxford College Press in addition to into a number of different Indian languages.
The primary three have been a right away success. Yayati (1961), written whereas Karnad was a scholar at Oxford, handled the expectations of the Indian household in opposition to private freedom. Tughlaq (1964) captured the frustration of early impartial India; and Hayavadana (1971) checked out points round private id and feminine emancipation.
In these works, radical for his or her time, Karnad captured the emotions of a disillusioned middle-class, who so not too long ago had been united of their struggle for freedom from the British however have been questioning what independence meant for India now.
In maybe his best-known work, Agni Mattu Male (The Hearth and the Rain, 1995), Karnad took a story from the Mahabharata and positioned it as a play throughout the play to discover the very Indian conflict between individualism and the widespread good. Different notable performs, set firmly in fashionable India, embody A Heap of Damaged Photos (2006), a cynical take a look at the Indian literary institution; Wedding ceremony Album (2009), about Hindu marriage and problems with intercourse, obedience and commerce; and Boiled Beans on Toast (2014), about fashionable Bengaluru (Bangalore).
Early on, Karnad knew that to specific his imaginative and prescient to a wider viewers he needed to transfer into cinema. His screenwriting and appearing debut, Samskara (1970), primarily based on his buddy UR Ananthamurthy’s novel in regards to the limitations of caste, gained the primary Golden Lotus award, the nationwide prize for Kannada cinema. His directoral debut (with the theatre director BV Karanth), the award-winning Vamsha Vriksha (1971), took his fascination with custom versus modernity deeper by following the trials of an informed household for 20 years .
Most of the movies he made in a 35-year profession as a director gained nationwide awards. Amongst them are Kaadu (1973), Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane (titled Godhuli in Hindi, 1977), about an American girl newly married to an Indian, Utsav (1984), during which a courtesan’s relationship with a poor Brahmin man causes chaos, and Kanooru Heggadithi (1999), on the restricted place of ladies in rural India.
A flexible actor, too, Karnad learnt his craft in performs directed by Karanth within the Kannada theatre world. He finally appeared in nearly 100 motion pictures, together with artwork movies resembling Shyam Benegal’s Nishant (1975) – considered one of Karnad’s most enduring roles, as a schoolteacher whose spouse is kidnapped – and Mashant (1976), and Nagesh Kukunoor’s Iqbal (2005), during which he gained crucial declare as an opportunist cricket coach who chooses to favour a wealthy boy over an excellent however poor protege, in addition to blockbuster motion pictures such because the Salman Khan autos Ek Tha Tiger (2012) and Tiger Zinda Hai (2017).
On tv he appeared within the first sequence of Malgudi Days (1987), primarily based on the RK Narayan quick tales, and the kids’s science fiction sequence Indradhanush (1989), enjoying the protagonist’s father.
Born in Matheran, east of Mumbai, Girish was the third of 4 kids of middle-class dad and mom, Raghunath Karnad, a health care provider and Krishnabhai (nee Mankikar), a nurse. When Girish was 14, the household moved to Dharwad in Karnataka, south India, the place he grew to become fascinated by the traditional traditions of Yakshagana theatre.
He graduated with a BA in maths and statistics from Karnatak College, then went to Oxford College as a Rhodes scholar to review for an MA in philosophy, politics and economics. He was elected president of the Oxford Union in 1962.
After his return to India in 1963 and the success of his first performs, he was supplied a job on the Oxford College Press in Madras (now Chennai), the place he met Saraswathy Ganapathy, a health care provider and director of healthcare tasks, at a celebration. They married quickly after.
He remained on the OUP till 1970, when he give up to hitch the newbie theatre group the Mysore Gamers in Bengaluru, the place he settled together with his household.
In addition to his artistic work, Karnad served as director of the Movie and Tv Institute of India (1974-75), and chair of Sangeet Natak Akademi, the nationwide academy of performing arts (1988-93). From 2000 to 2003, he was director of the Nehru Centre, the cultural wing of the excessive fee of India, in London. In 2002 his play Bali – the Sacrifice was staged on the Leicester Haymarket theatre.
A secularist who condemned the rise of nationalism in India, he took benefit of his place to marketing campaign for the rights of the LGBT group, ladies, the Dalit caste and spiritual minorities.
He was crucial of the 2002 Gujarat riots, which noticed the homicide of many Muslims by Hindus when the present prime minister, Narendra Modi, was chief minister of Gujarat. Karnad continued to be crucial of Modi after his election and lately had spoken out in opposition to the home arrests of activists by the federal government throughout the nation, and of the murders of outstanding journalists.
His remaining work, Rakshasa-Tangadi, was revealed final yr, and he is because of seem in 4 movies this yr. He was awarded the Padma Shri, considered one of India’s high civilian honours, in 1974, and the Padma Bhushan in 1992. In 1998 he was the recipient of the Jnanpith award, India’s highest literary prize.
Karnad is survived by Saraswathi, their daughter, Shalmali Radha, and son, Raghu.
• Girish Raghunath Karnad, playwright, actor and director, born 19 Could 1938; died 10 June 2019