BHOPAL: The theatre artistes, playwrights, teachers and students in the city mourned the passing away of noted writer, actor and Jnanpith awardee Girish Karnad on Monday.
Many of them may have chanted for the tempest of Indian theatre, Karnad: Awake, dear heart, awake. Thou hast slept well. Awake…
They knew he won’t. Yet, the literary giant’s footprint will always be there on the sandy banks of time. They’re sure of it. He had an emotional connection with Bhopal.
And he maintained that through his friend and another pillar of Indian theatre BV Karanth. Whenever he would visit the state capital he stayed with Karanth. He had visited the city in 1998 when the state government conferred Kalidas Samman on him.
Karnad, however, visited the city for the first time in 1983 when his play ‘Hayvadana’ was staged under the direction of Karanth. As long as Karanth was alive, Karnad had been in touch with him. The writers and theatre artistes, Free Press spoke to, fondly remembered the association of these two giants of the theatre world. Excerpts:
Alok Chatterjee, director, MP School of Drama
Girish Karnad was introduced to theatre by BV Karanth. When Karanth was director of Rangmandal, whenever he was in Bhopal, Karnad used to stay at his home. Karnad first visited Bharat Bhawan in 1983 to see the staging of his play ‘Hayavadana,’ directed by Karanth. \
I played the role of ‘Devrat’ in the play and received handsome compliments from Karnad. After Karanth, I was the first to direct Karnad’s play in Bhopal. I directed ‘Rakta Kalyan,’ under the Young Director scheme of Sangeet Natak Akademi.
I had an emotional connect with him and his death is personal loss to me. As chairman of Sangeet Natak Akademi, Karnad organised ‘Nandikar Samaroh, with 12 top theatre directors. He wonderfully weaved folk tales in his plays ‘Nagmandlam’ and ‘Hayvadana’.
He immensely enriched English, Hindi and Kannada literature and the theatre of the three languages. His demise marks the end of an era of Indian theatre.
Pankaj Rag, principal secretary, culture
Girish Karnad was very closely associated with the Bharat Bhavan during its initial years. His play ‘Hayvadan’ was staged by Rangmandal at Bharat Bhavan, soon after the multi-arts complex came into being. He was always encouraging and helpful whenever Rangmandal staged plays in Karnataka, Maharashtra or other parts of the country.
I have served as director of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune. He was also the director of the Institute and the place is full of his memories, especially of his command of finer nuances of acting.
Ideologically, he was a progressive and that showed in his writings, too, but he never allowed his ideology to come in the way of his artistic expressions. He was a great source of strength and support for the progressive movement of India. We all will miss him.
Rajesh Joshi, author
I never met him personally, though I have heard him speak at a seminar at Bharat Bhavan. I have also read and seen his plays. He was an unmatched playwright and his writings were widely read and appreciated, not only in Kannada but also in Hindi and other Indian languages. His passing away is a big loss for the world of theatre and cinema.
Through his plays, he reinterpreted historical and mythological narratives in the contemporary context. He picked images and characters from history and mythology and refashioned them to proffer solutions to current social and political problems. His plays communicated at many levels.
Seema Raizada, HOD, English department, MLB College
Girish Karnad can be termed as the cultural ambassador of Indian literature. He used historical and mythological sources to deal with contemporary themes. His experiments with Indian classical and native Indian dramatic forms helped in decolonizing the Indian English drama.
With equal élan, he handled folk and modern theatres alike. His plays are intellectually provocative and offer thoughtful perspectives on contemporary life like woman in patriarchal Indian society, filial relationships, equality and social justice, modern day power and politics, and other socio-cultural issues that as much occupied the mind of the ancient man as his modern reader.
Govind Namdev, Film and TV actor
I was in touch with him. When I was a student at NSD, Delhi, I attended many of his classes. I was fortunate enough to win the affection of legendary filmmakers like Govind Nihlani and Shyam Benegal and through them I got the opportunity of meeting Girish Karnad informally at parties and other gatherings.
His was a spectacular personality. He was grace personified and a writer par excellence. His final exit from this world is a great loss to the realms of theatre and films.
Shalini Malviya,Theatre student
I am deeply grieved by Karnad’s demise. I have read his plays like ‘Yayati’ and ‘Hayvadan’. I have also acted in a play ‘Rakta Kalyan’, penned by him. It was a bit difficult for me to understand some portions of his plays. His writing is so subtle and so deep that on occasions,
it was beyond me to comprehend what he meant. He had once famously said, “A man must commit a crime at least once in his life-time. Only then will his virtue be recognised.” I would love him only for this quote.
MPSD teachers,students pay tributes
The teachers and students of MP School of drama paid rich tributes to playwright and actor Girish Karnad. Those who are present on the occasion spoke about the Karnad’s contributions in field of theatre.