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Raghu Karnad remembers father Girish Karnad in a heartfelt tribute: ‘That was the man I loved’

Raghu Karnad wrote about his late father Girish Karnad that the picture that is growing rooted in his mind is of Girish in his spot on the sofa, his hand around a glass of whiskey, gently bubbling with bits of history, legend, song, folktale and philosophy.

bollywood Updated: Jun 13, 2019 18:31 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Raghu Karnad,Girish Karnad,Girish Karnad death
In this file photo dated Oct 28, 2018, actor-writer Girish Karnad at the 7th edition of Bangalore Literature Festival (BLF), in Bengaluru. (PTI)

Girish Karnad’s son penned a tribute to his father -- a scholar, theatre personality, an actor and director with a career spanning over five decades.

Multi-hyphenate personality Girish Karnad’s son, Raghu Karnad posted a heartfelt tribute to his father, three days after he died at his home in Bengaluru. A scholar, theatre personality, an actor and director with a career spanning over five decades, Girish Karnad was known for his commitment to freedom of expression.

Remembering his last days, Raghu wrote, “On Saturday evening, he completed a set of audio interviews with Arshia Sattar. On Sunday evening, the family sat together warmed by the long lines of sun on the terrace. I gave him his physio and my sister cut his nails. We talked about some new, difficult issues with his body. It was sad, but not only sad. On Monday morning he was gone.”

Thanking people for their messages about his father, he wrote, “Thank you for the many messages about how you felt enriched by his life and work. The reverse is also true. His life and work were enriched and elevated by gurus and professors, aunts and sisters, friends, collaborators, directors, students, publishers, actors, readers, rivals, aides, some very important drivers – and many drinking companions. In his last few weeks and even hours I heard many of those names. Thank you all for building up the extraordinary person he was.”

He also remembered his father: “The picture that is growing rooted in my mind is of Appa in his spot on the sofa, his hand around a glass of whiskey, gently bubbling with bits of history, legend, song, folktale and philosophy. That was the man I loved.”

Girish Karnad died on Monday at his Bengaluru residence at the age of 81. A scholar, theatre personality, an actor and director in a career spanning over five decades, it was the identity as a playwright that he most associated with, often drawing from the rich mythological and historical legacy of the country to weave stories about current sociopolitical issues.

A brilliant student, who graduated in mathematics but chose arts as his playing field, Karnad wrote his first play Yayati at the age of 23 in 1961. Karnad’s famous plays include Tughlaq, Hayavadana, Angumalige, Hittina Hunja, Naga-Mandala, Tale-Danda, Agni Mattu Male and The Dreams of Tipu Sultan. He was given Jnanpith Award, the highest literary recognition in India, in 1998.

He made his movie and screenwriting debut with the adaptation of U R Ananthmurthy’s seminal Kannada novel Samskara in 1970. The film won the President’s Gold Medal in 1971. He ventured into the parallel cinema movement of the ‘70s with the Shyam Benegal-directed Nishant and Manthan. He played the lead role in Basu Chatterjee’s Swami opposite Shabana Azmi.

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Karnad played Swami’s father in the TV adaptation of R K Narayan’s Malgudi Days and hosted Turning Point, a science programme.

As a director, he helmed Kannada films such as Vamsha Vriksha, Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane, Ondanondu Kaladalli, Kanooru Heggadithi and Hindi films Godhuli and Utsav.

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First Published: Jun 13, 2019 18:28 IST