Veteran Actor Girish Karnad: Amazing Facts, Awards & Honours

Girish Karnad Veteran actor, playwright, film director and a Rhodes Scholar was born on 19th May 1938. Think of Kannada theatre, the first name that clicks is Girish Karnad. For the past 50 years, he is using history and mythology to express urban truths in Kannada language. Let us learn some important facts about Girish Karnad. Veteran Actor Girish Karnad passes away on 10th June at the age of 81, He was a famous playwright, actor, author, film director and a Rhodes Scholar. Let us read more facts about Girish Karnad, his works and about his life.
Jun 10, 2019 16:45 IST
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Girish Karnad: 11 Must Know Facts about Him
Girish Karnad: 11 Must Know Facts about Him

Girish Karnad was also known as Girish Raghunath Karnad. He was a talented film-maker, a person of wide accomplishments and interests. The subject of the plays that he generates reflects the problems and challenges of contemporary life and endeavour to forge a link between the past and the present. His plays acts as a medium to communicate his own-independent and original feelings, thoughts and interpretations. Interesting facts about Girish Kartnad are as follows:

1. Girish Karnad is known as one of the biggest contributors to the Sandalwood cinema. He has been composing plays for over four decades. He was so talented that he used to translate his own plays into English. He had written most of the films and plays in Kannada language.

2. He was born on 19 May, 1938 at Matheran, Bombay Presidency now in Maharashtra, India. He did his graduation in 1958 from Karnataka University. As a Rhodes Scholar he studies philosophy, politics and economics at the Oxford University from 1960 t0 1963.

3. He wrote his first play in 1961 as Yayati. The play focuses on mythological king Yayati and the themes of history was beautifully clubbed in the play. His next play was Tughlaq written in 1964. The play centred on the 14th century sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq and known as one of the best work.

4. In 1970 he wrote Samskara and entered into filmmaking. He wrote the screenplay and played the lead role in the film. For his literary works he was bestowed with various prestigious awards like the Padma Bhushan (1992), the Padma Shri (1974), the Kalidas Samman (1998) and the Jnanpith Award (1999). He has won around five awards in cinema namely the National Film Award, Filmfare Awards South, Filmfare Awards Hindi and Karnataka State Film Awards. He also won the National Film Awards for the Best Feature Film in Kannada for the movie Ondanondu Kaladalli. And for the same film he also won the award for the best director.

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5. As a child, he also went to several Natak Mandalis with his parents, who were also fond of performing arts. There, he learnt about performing arts and Yakshagana which is the traditional theatre form of Karnataka and began to grow as an artist.

6. Let us tell you that his plays namely Yayati and Tughlaq gave him the necessary boost what he needed as a playwright. The first play that he wrote was about king Yayati and second one was Tughlaq. He continued to produce his work as a playwright including Hayavadana (1971) and was widely recognised as among the most important plays of post independence India.

7. His film Samskara (1970) directed by Pattabhirama Reddy, the screenwriting and acting debut was done by the legend Girish Karnad. The film won the president's Golden Lotus Award for Kannada Cinema which is a true pride for the state. The movie was inspired by a novel written by U.R Ananthamurthy.

8. Do you remember Malgudi Days? Let us tell you that Girish Karnad played the role of Swami's father for the first eight episodes of Malgudi Days.

9. His other well known films in Kannada include Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane (1977) and Ondanondu Kaalaadalli (1978). In Hindi language also he had worked. He had directed Utsav (1984) which was an adaptation of Shudraka's fourth century Sanskrit play Mrichchakatika. Girish Karnad framed an unhappy contemporary marriage imagery drawn from Kannada folk tales in the play Nagamandala (1988).

10. Do you know that he had given his voice to autobiography of the APJ Abdul Kalam, Wings of Fire when it was turned into an audiobook by the company Charkha Audiobook.

11. He was served as the director of the Nehru Centre and as a Minister of Culture from 2000 to 2003 in the Indian high Commission, London. He has bestowed in 20111 as an honorary doctorate from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

List of Works of Girish Karnad are as follows: Hayavadana, Yayati, Tughalak, Anjumallige, Hittina Hunja Taledanda, Agni mathu Male, Tippuvina Kannasugalu, Translated his plays from Kannada into English, Translated his play Tughalak into German and Hungarian. He is a Director, actor and screenplay writer for many Kannada movies such as Samskara, Vamsha Vriksha, Kadu, Kanooru Heggadithi.

Awards and Honours:
1. Central Sangeeth Natak Akademi award for his play Hayavadana
2. Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya award in 1978.
3. His play "Nagamandala" was premiered in Minneapolis in the USA.
4. Samskara won the best film award.
5. Vamsha Vriksha got national and state awards.
6. Visiting professor at the University of Chicago in 1987-88.
7. Director of the Film and Television Institute of India.
8. Chairman of the Central Sangeeth Natak Akademi.
9. Jnanpith Award
10. Padma Shri Award
11. Padma Bhushan Award
12. Kalidas Samman
13. He has won around five awards in cinema namely the National Film Award, Filmfare Awards South, Filmfare Awards Hindi and Karnataka State Film Awards.

No doubt Girish Karnad was an Indian author, actor and a film director. He is internationally known as playwright and is a highly talented person. His one of the biggest contributions to the Sandalwood cinema is not forgettable. He died on 10 June, 2019.

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