Jnanpith award winner, multi-lingual actor, well-known theatre personality and noted playwriter Girish Karnad passed away here on Monday, an official said. He was 81
"Karnad died at his home at around 6:30 am due to multiple organ failure," an official of the Karnataka Chief Minister's office told PTI. The veteran actor is survived by his son Raghu, a writer and journalist.
Girish Karnad was a noted Kannada writer and playwright. He directed and acted in several South Indian cinema and Bollywood movies. He is a Rhodes Scholar and Jnanpith Award winner.
Girish Karnad was born to Krishnabai née Mankikar and Dr Raghunath Karnad in Matheran, Maharashtra on May 19, 1938. He did his primary schooling in Marathi.
Girish's parents were impressed with the plays of the travelling theatre group Natak Mandalis and introduced him to groups in Sirsi, Karnataka. He was an ardent fan of Yakshagana.
Karnad moved to Dharwad in Karnataka with his family when he was 14. He graduated in mathematics and statistics from Karnataka Arts College, Dharwad in 1958.
Later Girish went to England, where he earned his Master of Arts degree in philosophy, political science and economics at Magdalen in Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar (1960–63).
Girish began his career at the Oxford University Press (OUP) in Chennai in 1963 and resigned seven years later.
He was deeply influenced by Western literature of the Renaissance period when he was pursuing his higher education in London, where he published his first play called Yayati in 1961.
He joined a local amateur theatre group, The Madras Players. Girish went on to write plays and translated them into English for four decades.
In his plays, he used history and mythology to tackle contemporary issues.
Nagamandala, Tughlaq, Hayavadana, Hittina Hunja are few of the notable dramas written by him.
His plays have been translated into several Indian languages. Ebrahim Alkazi, BV Karanth, Alyque Padamsee, Prasanna, Arvind Gaur, Satyadev Dubey, Vijaya Mehta, Shyamanand Jalan, Amal Allana and Zafer Mohiuddin have directed his plays.
In 1970, Girish Raghunath Karnad made his acting debut with Pattabhirama Reddy's Kannada film Samskara (Funeral Rites).
In his acting career spanning five decades, he essayed important roles in over 90 movies in Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi and another six films are lined up for release in the coming days.
He also worked in TV series like Malgudi Days (1987) and Indradhanush (1989).
Girish Karnad made his debut as a film director with the Kannada movie Vamsha Vriksha in 1971.
He has directed over 10 movies and few documentaries such as Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane, Utsav and Kanooru Heggadithi.
Girish Karnad worked as visiting professor at the University of Chicago and Fulbright playwright-in-residence between 1987 and 88.
He also served as director of the Nehru Centre and as Minister of Culture, in the Indian High Commission, London (2000–2003). His last play "Rakshasa Tangadi", was published last year.