A Playwright with a cause.(Karnataka.com)
A Playwright with a cause.(Karnataka.com)

From reality to abstract: Remembering KV Subbanna

A rare artist whose world was his village, K.V Subbanna has been renowned for his prolific writing and publishing, along with his contribution towards establishing one of the most famous Natya houses of all time.
By ThisDay.app
PUBLISHED ON JUL 16, 2021 06:18 PM IST

Died on 16th July 2005.

He was born on 20th February 1932 in the Shimoga district of Karnataka. His family was a big supporter of art and artists that too of any and all forms. Subbanna had shown a strong sense of interest in drama since his childhood days. His father, fond of the same decided to set up a dramatic society namely Neelanakantheshwara Natya Sangha in 1949. It was set up in the Heggodu village that was near Sagar Taluk. This turned out to be one of the biggest establishments by Subbanna later.

He completed his graduation from the Maharaja College of Mysore. Post his graduation he came under the influence of Shantaveri Gopala Gowda, who was a leader of the socialist movement. This inspired him to dive deep into socialist philosophy which he later practiced throughout his life. He was also made the first secretary of Lal Bahadur College that is situated in Sagar. However, the desire to expand his career in theatre and drama came after he joined the Rare Taste Club. Being a part of this club made him appreciate the many artistic works of creative personalities. He also got familiar with the works of Satyajit Ray.

After this, Subbanna started working hard on the society his father established and turned it into the world-renowned theatrical group called Neenasam.

Neenasam was a by-product of community effort alone and Subbanna's broad taste led him to work more and create something unique out of it. All the activities under Neenasam were an attempt to revive folklore, forgotten plays, and skits, putting up performances, and enacting many old-time classics. It slowly turned into a cultural movement by K.V Subbanna. The members together would also arrange many workshops and seminars related to theatre from time to time, all over Karnataka.

It was Subbanna's strong belief in the democracy and community spirit of India that made him work tirelessly to achieve and showcase the true essence of histrionics. All thanks to Neenasam, Heggodu was always filled with activities and shows. People would eagerly wait for the new productions and not once were they disappointed. Subbanna was hence successful in rebuilding the forgotten folk-lore and Sanskrit plays.

His consistent efforts in making Neenasam a prominent learning centre for theatre helped him bag many awards one being the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature, and Creative Communication Arts. (1991)

Apart from that, he was also awarded the Sangeet Natak Academy Award in 1994. Although he was known for his contribution towards Neenasam, K.V Subbanna was also famous for his writing, translations, and publishing. He had a publishing house named Akshara Prakasna which used to publish theatrical works of literature famous in Kannada. One of its finest works up until now was the translation of the book Natyashastra by Bharata.

His various works on dramas and plays won him the Sahitya Academy Award in 2003, and the Padma Shri in 2004. Despite all the success, Subbanna always remained humble and curious when it came to working. Many writers, playwrights, poets, and dramatists acclaimed him to be a person who not only revived cultural methods of literature but also a very talented man. He sadly passed away on 17th July 2005 but Neenasam still moves forward as a legacy he left behind.

This was story was first published on This Day.app.

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