Noted playwright-actor Girish Karnad passes away at 81


Renowned playwright, and Jnanpith awardee Karnad, who left his indelible mark in the world of literature, theatre and cinema passed away at his residence Monday morning after prolonged illness, official sources said.

A multi-hyphenate personality, who often courted controversies for his vocal stance, Karnad, 81, is survived by wife Saraswathi, son Raghu Karnad, a journalist and writer, and daughter 

“He breathed his last around 8 am… and had been suffering with ailments including breathing problem for some time now,” sources close to Karnad’s family said.

A recipient of and Padma Bhushan, was one of the most important literary minds of the present era.

He had acted in and directed several plays and movies that earned critical acclaim.

Karnad’s plays, written in Kannada, have been translated into English and several other Indian languages.

According to family sources, his last rites will be held at Kalpali electric crematorium in the city later in the day.

As per his wishes, the family has decided not to follow any religious ceremonies and accept state honours during funeral, they said.

The family has also requested his fans and dignitaries who want to pay last respects to directly come to crematorium as they want it to keep it private.

Declaring a holiday on Monday as a mark of respect to Karnad, the Chief Minister’s office in a statement also announced a three-day state mourning.

The CMO said will also receive state honours, which is in line with respect given to other Jnanpith awardees in the past.

Condoling the death of Karnad, H D Kumaraswamy said, “We have lost a cultural 

“Deeply saddened to hear of the demise of Jnanpith laureate and iconic actor/film maker, #GirishKarnad.

“His outstanding contribution to literature, theatre and films will always be remembered. In his death, we lost a cultural  May his soul rest in peace,” Kumaraswamy tweeted.

Former H D Deve Gowda said had brought seventh Jnanpith award to Kannada language.

BJP state B S Yeddyurappa in a tweet said, “Saddened to hear the demise of veteran actor-playwright and jnanapeeta awardee  My deepest condolences to @RKarnad and his family.”

was born in in 1938 as third child to Dr Raghunath and Krishnabai. His mother was a young widow before marrying Raghunath 

The family later shifted to Sirsi and Dharwad in where he spent his formative years and the family’s inclination to dramatic arts laid the foundation for his future in the literary world.

Known to be a part of “Navya” literary movement, which was influenced by the renaissance in Western literature, wrote “Nagamandala”, “Hayavadana”, “Tughlaq” and “Yayati” among others.

His noted work in the field of film include “Samskara”, which was based on a novel by U R Ananthamurthy and “Vamsha Vriksha”, based on a Kannada novel by among others.

has also acted in several Kannada and Hindi commercial movies, most recent being 2017’s “Tiger Zinda Hai”.

He also courted controversies, and was a known critic of 

was among 600 theatre personalities who had signed a letter ahead of the Lok Sabha polls asking people to “vote BJP and its allies” out of power, arguing that the idea of and its constitution were under threat.

He had been highly critical of Modi being “the single face and voice” of BJP.

had criticised Nobel laureate V S for his controversial views on Muslims in India, saying the had no idea of the community’s contribution to the country’s history.

Calling an unreliable of non-fiction as far as was concerned, had said, “He really doesn’t pay much attention to the details of the texts he studies.”

Amid raging controversy over government’s decision to celebrate Tipu Jayanti, had said the 18th century Mysore ruler would have enjoyed the same status as of Maratha Chhatrapathi Shivaji, if he was a Hindu and not a Muslim.

He had also said it would have been “apt” had the at Devanahalli near here been named after Tipu Sultan rather than Kempegowda, a feudatory ruler under the erstwhile Vijayanagara Empire which founded Bengaluru in 1537, which drew lot of criticism.


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