Punnu wrote on 11 Aug 2008
Girish Raghunath Karnad was born on 19 May 1938 born in Matheran, Maharashtra in a Konkani speaking family. He has become one of India's brightest shining stars, earning international praise as a playwright, poet, actor, director, critic, and translator is a contemporary writer, playwright, actor and movie director in Kannada language. His initial schooling was in Marathi. As a young man studying at Karnataka University, Dharwar, he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mathematics and Statistics in 1958, Karnad dreamt of earning international literary fame, but he thought that he would do so by writing in English. Upon graduation, he went to England and studied at Oxford where he earned a Rhodes scholarship and went on to receive a Master of Arts Degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.
His directorial debut came with the movie Vamsha Vruksha (1971) based on a Kannada novel by S.L. Bhairappa. The movie went on to win several national and international awards. Before that Karnad had acted in a movie called Samskara (1970) which was based on a novel by U.R. Ananthamurthy directed by Pattabhirama Reddy. That movie bagged the first President's Golden Lotus Award for Kannada cinema.
Karnad later directed several movies in Kannada and Hindi. Some of his famous Kannada movies include Tabbaliyu neenade magane (1977), Ondanondu Kaaladalli, Cheluvi (1992) and Kadu. His other notable Hindi films are Nishant (1975), Manthan (1976) and Swami (1977). In Swami, he played Shabana Azmi’s husband who is devoid of any worldly pleasures and wants to run away from marital responsibility. This role got him a lot of critical as well as audience acclaim. In 1982 he featured in a Marathi film Umbartha, opposite the sultry Smita Patil and though the script of the film was completely womean-centris, he still left a mark on the minds of the audiences.
Hindi movies directed by him include Utsav (1984) and Godhuli (1977). A recently acclaimed movie by Karnad is Kanooru Heggaditi based on a novel by Kannada writer Kuvempu. Apart from directing and screenwriting all the above movies, Karnad has also acted in several other movies and received critical acclamation. In 1985, he was seen in Subhash Ghai’s Meri Jung which did very well at the box-office. After this, in 1990 he appeared in the historical film Nehru : The Jewel of India. He continued playing character roles in selective films, some of them being Sapnay (1997), China Gate (1998), Pukar and Hey Ram (2000). Out of these his role in the latter two was largely noticed and appreciated. But what brought him right back to public memory was Nagesh Kukonoor’s Iqbal (2005) where he played the scheming cricket coach and Dor (2006) in which he was the main protagonist’s father-in-law. Both these films had him play a character with grey shades and were stories that touched a chord.
In 1978 he won the Silver Lotus Award in National Films Award as Best Screenplay for movie Bhumika: The role (1977) In 1980 he won the Filmfare Award as Best Screenplay for the movie Godhuli (1979) He is the latest one among seven recipients of Jnanpith Award for Kannada the highest literary honour conferred in India. He was conferred Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan by Government of India.
His plays, written in Kannada, have been widely translated into English and all major Indian languages. He has played the role of Karadi, the sootradhar, for several stories in the popular audiobook series for kids Karadi Tales. He has also been the voice of Abdul Kalam, President of India in the audio book of Kalam's autobiography by Charkha Audiobooks Wings of Fire.