#RIPGirishKarnad: Veteran Actor-Filmmaker Girish Karnad Passes Away At The Age of 81

Vaishnavi Gavankar |Jun 10, 2019

The Karnataka government also announced a three-day state mourning in honor of the famous writer. His last rites are to be performed at Kalpalli Crematorium in Bengaluru.

Veteran actor and playwright Girish Karnad passed away early this morning in Bengaluru. The Jnanpith and Padma awardee had succumbed to multiple organ failure survived by his two children and wife Saraswati Ganapathi.

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Actor Girish Karnad

Born in 1938, Girish Karnad was one of the most prominent theatre actors of '60s and '70s. This period is often considered as the "Golden Era" of Indian theatre and drama. He worked plays which dealt with history and mythology. He was a part of the famous plays like Hayavadana and Tughlaq. It was in 1961 when he had penned down his first play in the form of Yayati.

Since then he had been writing plays, and one of the last plays he had written was Rakshasa Tangdi, published last year. Most of his writings were in Kannada, and the actor was involved largely in the parallel cinema movement of the country.

Actor Girish Karnad with actress Shabana Azmi.

Apart from Hayavadana and Tughlaq, his plays like Agni Matte Male, Nagamandala, and Taledanda were also path-breaking and refined art of that era. After penning down some narrative driven, content-rich plays the actor entered into the mainstream film by Samskara, a Kannada film released in 1970 which was based on the novel written by U.R. Ananthamurthy.

He also wrote the screenplay of the movie which was directed by Pattabhirama Reddy.

Actor Girish Karnad in still from the movie "Ek Tha Tiger".

A decade later the actor made his directorial debut with the Kannada film Vamsha Vriksha in 1971. The film was based on the novel written by S. L. Bhyrappa. The movie helped him bag the National Film Award For Best Direction along with the co-director of the film B. V. Karanth.

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Girish Karnad role as Swami's father in the evergreen TV series Malgudi Days shot him to the limelight. The series is still considered as one of the classics that Indian Television Industry has ever produced.

Girish Karnad with his wife

Karnad had acted in several Hindi Films in the '70s and 80's making him one of the most important faces of the parallel cinema. He played a pivotal role in Shyam Benegal's Nishant and Manthan which was released in 1974 and 1976 respectively. He was also seen sharing the screen with Bollywood's Bhai Jaan, Salman Khan, in 2012 blockbuster film Ek Tha Tiger.

A Black And White Still Of Padma Bhushan Girish Ka

The actor has been at the center of many controversies as well. In November 2015, during the birth anniversary celebration of the 18th-century Muslim ruler, Tipu Sultan, the actor said that the Bangalore International Airport should be named after the ruler.

This statement had created turmoil in the state, attracting some strong criticisms against the actor. The actor was forced to apologize the following day.

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He was also in the hit list of the gang who murdered famous journalist Gauri Lankesh. Following the Gauri Lankesh shootout, the actor was under State Police security.

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The Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi tweeted about the sad demise of the veteran actor. He wrote, "Girish Karnad will be remembered for his versatile acting across all mediums. He also spoke passionately about causes dear to him. His works will continue being popular in the years to come. Saddened by his demise. May his soul rest in peace."

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The Chief Minister of Karnataka, H. D. Kumaraswamy too mourned the loss of the actor and posted on Twitter that, "Deeply saddened to hear of the demise of Jnanpith laureate writer and iconic actor/ filmmaker, Sri #GirishKarnad. His outstanding contribution to literature, theatre and films will always be remembered. In his death, we lost a cultural ambassador. May his soul rest in peace."

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In a series of tweets, famous Indian historian and writer Ramachandra Guha wrote, "Playwright, actor, institution-builder and patriot, Girish Karnad was a colossus. It was a privilege to have known him, a far greater privilege to have seen his plays and read his work."


In another tweet, the actor continued, "In his plays, Girish Karnad beautifully and seamlessly blended North and South, the folk and classical, the demotic and the scholarly. In his life, he embodied the richness and depth of Indian civilization more nobly and less self-consciously than anyone else I know."

Smita Patil and Girish Karnad film "Subah"

Famous Tamil actor and politician Kamal Haasan also shared his condolences on Twitter by saying, "Mr.Girish Karnad, His scripts both awe and inspire me. He has left behind many inspired fans who are writers. Their works perhaps will make his loss partly bearable."

With Shabana Azmi In Swami

Following the demise of the veteran actor, the Karnataka Government has declared a holiday for schools and colleges. The Karnataka government also announced a three-day state mourning in honor of the famous writer. His last rites are to be performed at Kalpalli Crematorium in Bengaluru.


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