iconimg Wednesday, September 02, 2015

New Delhi, November 10, 2012
Theatre personality and actor Girish Karnad's statement that Rabindranath Tagore was a 'second-rate playwright' has not only created ripples in the literary world but also angered Twitterati.
After his recent criticism of VS Naipaul, Karnad on Friday said Rabindranath Tagore was a great poet but a 'second-rate playwright'.

"Tagore was an influential thinker," he said. "His plays, however, are mediocre. We should treat and judge each genre separately."

Karnad's remarks evoked mostly angry and negative reactions on the social media. Some of the tweets were:

@mbhandarkar268: Im surprised by #Girish Karnad's statement on #Tagore. Such a talented person, wonder why he has made such a strange remark.

@moonsez: Even after so many years Girish Karnad had to use Tagore to get a little publicity.

@thesudhir: Rabindranath Tagore needs no approval of Girish Karnad. He doesn't need a third party endorsement

@Rattan_Deep: Whatever Girish Karnad is expressing about Tagore...what is the use of saying all this..his certificate is not required for Tagore's genius.

@jsharanarthy: It was his view, India appreciates democracy, so shd we. Nothing is black or white. #Girish Karnad?

@ofcabbageskings: Rabindranath Tagore: To be outspoken is easy when you do not wait to speak the complete truth.

@anuragtagat: Girish Karnad, you sound like a second-year literature student.

@BongoSontan: Girish Karnad: 'Give me some more time.. Give me atten-tion.. Give me another chance.. I wanna trend once again'

Karnad had made these remarks while addressing students at the Azim Premji Foundation in Bangalore,

Karnad said since Tagore had an elite upbringing, his plays lacked empathy for the poor. "… He sentimentalises the problems of the lower classes in his plays in a way that is almost condescending. None of his contemporaries would call him a great playwright."

He said he had a higher regard for playwrights such as Vijay Tendulkar and Badal Sarkar.

"Other than Rakta Karabi (The Red Oleander) and Dakghar (The Post Office), you don't hear of any of his other plays being staged," he said.

Tagore wrote three categories of plays: prose plays, verse plays and dance drama.

Reactions of intellectuals of Kolkata have been tempered.

Historian Rajat Kanta Ray, who is ex-vice-chancellor of Visva Bharati, said: "Karnad is entitled to his own opinion (but) Dakghar and Raktakarabi were internationally performed in the interwar period and after the Second World War."

Playwright Bibhash Chakraborty said: "Will it malign Tagore in any way? Ignore it."