Girish Karnad – tribute to a great theatre personality

Girish Karnad – tribute to a great theatre personality

Girish  Karnad died at a hospital in Bengaluru at 6.30 am on 10th June. He was 81 years old.  Jnanpith Award winner and recipient of the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan Girish Karnad was one of the most noted playwrights in India. 

He is survived by his wife Saraswathi, Son Raghu Karnad, a Journalist and writer and daughter Radha who is a doctor based in Kenya. 

Early Life of Girish Karnad :

Girish Raghunath Karnad was born in Mathern, in present-day Maharashtra in 1938.  His mother Krishnabai née Mankikar was a young widow with a son, and while training to be a nurse, met Dr. Raghunath Karnad who was a doctor in the Bombay Medical Service.

For five years they could not get married because of the prevailing prejudice against widow remarriage. Finally their marriage was sanctified under the dispensation of the Arya Samaj. Girish was the third of the four children born thereafter.

Girish Karnad’s initial schooling was in Marathi. In Sirsi, Karnataka, he was exposed to travelling theatre groups, Natak Mandalis, as his parents were deeply interested in their plays. 

Education :

As a youngster, Karnad was an ardent admirer of Yakshagana and the theater in his village. His family moved to Dharwad in Karnataka when he was 14 years old, where he grew up with his two sisters and niece.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics and statistics from Karnatak Arts College, Dharwad (Karnataka University) in 1958. Upon graduation Karnad went to England and studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Magdalen in Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar (1960-63), earning his Master of Arts degree in philosophy, Political Science and economics.  Karnad was elected President of the Oxford Union in 1963.

Literary works of Girish Karnad :

Girish Karnad has written many plays in Kannada and is considered one of Kannada literature’s famous playwrights.  Karnad wrote his first play, the much critically acclaimed Yayati  in 1961, while he was still at Oxford.

Girish Karnad’s next play Tughlaq in 1964 made him a name with among playwrights in the country.  The play is set during the reign of Muhammad bin Tughlaq.

He wrote Hayavadana in 1972 and Nagamandala in 1988.

Girish Karnad’s foray into cinema industry :

Karnad’s acting and screenwriting debut came in 1970 in the Kannada movie Samskara which was released in 1970.  The movies is based on a novel by UR Ananathamurty.  This film won the first President’s Golden Lotus Award for Kannada cinema.

Karnad’s work followed with Vamsha Vriksha which was released in 1971 with BV Karanth.  The other well known films in kannada includes Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane in 1977 and Ondanondu Kaaladalli in 1978. 

He also worked in Hindi directing the famously acclaimed Utsav in 1984 which is an adaptation of Shudraka’s 4th century Sanskrit play Mrichakatika.

He provided the voice of A.P.J.Abdul Kalam former President of India, in the audio-book of Kalam’s autobiography by Charkha Audio-books Wings of Fire.

Awards and Honors receive by Girish Karnad :

For Literature :

  • Sangeet Natak Akademi award and Varthur navya Award – 1972
  • Padma Shri  – 1974
  • Padma Bhushan – 1992
  • Kannada Sahitya Parishat Award – 1992
  • Sahitya Academy award – 1994
  • Jnanpith Award – 1998
  • Kalidas Samman – 1998
  • Rajyotsava Award

University of Southern California, Los Angeles – 2011.

His plays in English includes :

  • Collected Plays, Vol.1, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2005 (Tughlaq, Hayavadana, Bali: The Sacrifice, and Naga Mandala)
  • Collected Plays, Vol.2, Oxford University Press, 2005 (Tale-Danda, The Fire and the Rain, The Dreams of Tippu Sultan, Two Monologues: Flowers and Broken Images)
  • Yayati, Oxford University Press, 2008.
  • Wedding Album, Oxford University Press, 2009.
  • Boiled Beans on Toast, Oxford University Press, 2014.

Awards for Cinema :

National Film Awards : s

  • 1971: Best Direction – Vamsha Vriksha (with B.V.Karanth )
  • 1971: Best Feature Film in Kannada – Vamsha Vriksha
  • 1973: Second Best Feature Film – Kaadu 1977: Best Feature Film in Kannada : Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane
  • 1978: Best Screenplay – Bhumika (with Shyam Benegal and Satyadev Dubey)
  • 1978: Best Feature Film in Kannada – Ondanondu Kaladalli
  • 1989: Best Non-Feature Film – Kanaka Purandara
  • 1990: Best Non-Feature film on Social Issues – The Lamp in the Niche
  • 1992: Best Film on Environment Conservation – Cheluvi
  • 1999: Best Feature Film in Kannada – Kaanuru Heggadathi

Filmfare Awards South :

  • 1972 : Filmfare Award for Best Director – Kannada– Vamsha Vriksha 
  • 1974: Filmfare Award for Best Director – Kannada – Kaadu
  • 1978: Filmfare Award for Best Director – Kannada – Ondanondu Kaladalli
  • 1983: Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Kannada – Ananda Bhairavi

Filmfare Awards – Hindi

  • 1980: Filmfare Best Screenplay Award – Godhuli (with B.V.Karanth)
  • 1980: Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award : Aasha : Nominated
  • 1982: Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award : Teri Kasam : Nominated

Karnataka State Film Awards :

  • 1971-72 : First Best Film – Vamsha Vriksha
  • 1971-72 : Best Dialogue Writer – Vamsha Vriksha
  • 1973-74 : Second Best Film  – Kaadu
  • 1989-90 : Best Supporting Actor – Santha Shishunala Sharifa
  • 1995-96 ; Best Supporting Actor – Sangeetha Sagara Ganayogi Panchakshara Gavai
  • 1999-00 : Second Best Film  – Kanooru Heggadathi
Others :
  • Gubbi Veeranna Award Award for his services to theatre (as a playwright)
  • Karnad served as the director of the Film and Television Institute of India from 1974–1975, the Indian co-chairman for the Joint Media Committee of the Indo-US Sub-Commission on Education and Culture from 1984–1993, Chairman of the Sangeet Natak Academy from 1988–1993, and president of Karnataka Nataka Academy from 1976–1978.
  • Honorary Doctorate from University of Southern California, Los Angeles – 2011. 
Movies directed by Girish Karnad are :
  • Vamsha Vriksha in 1971, Kannada)
  • D.R.Bendre in 1972, Documentary)
  • Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane in 1977, Kannada
  • Godhuli in 1977, Hindi
  • Ondanondu Kaladalli in 1978, Kannada
  • Kanooru Heggadithi, Kannada
  • Kaadu in 1973, Kannada
  • Durga in Mahendar
  • Utsav in Hindi
  • Woh Ghar in 1984, Hindi based on Kirtinath Kurtakoti’s Kannada play Aa Mani
  • The Lamp in the Niche (1990) (documentary)
  • Cheluvi (1992, Kannada and Hindi (dubbed))
  • Chidambara Rahasya (2005, Kannada) (tv film for DD1)
Controversies and Activism – Girish Karnad :

Controversy always followed Girish Karnad.   He was a proponent of multi-culturalism and freedom of expression. Karnad had been a critic of religious fundamentalism and Hindutva in our country.

He publicly condemned the Demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992 and later spoke against the attempts to create controversy about the Idgah Maidan in Hubli.  He is a proponent of secularism and has opposed RSS and BJP and other Hindu organizations on several occasions.

It is the end of an era in Indian Cinema and theatre.  The country has lost a “cultural ambassador”. team is Saddened by his demise. May his soul rest in peace.

Finding Piya – Subhasis Mishra – Bengaluru :

Finding Piya – Subhasis Mishra – Bengaluru :

Finding Piya – is a book written by Subhasis Mishtra.    According to Nila Madhab Panda, film maker and Padmashree awardee, the book is an “immensive work with great imagery and vivid descriptions of the conflict between love and dark side of college politics…..a must read for political drama lovers”.

Subhasis Mishtra author of Finding Piya :

Subhasis Mishtra is a global human resources leader who is also passionate about story telling.  He is an undergraduate in mechanical engineering and a post graduate in human resources. 

He has been in the corporate world for almost 20 years and has worked for many global brands like START TV, the Walt Disney Company, Target and Amazon.

Mishra was born and raised in Odisha and started his corporate career in Mumbai working with STAR Television and Walt Disney India before relocating to Los Angeles in 2008.

Subhasis currently works as a Talent Acquisition Leader with Amazon India and lives with his wife Vinithra and 2 children Neev & Nila in Bangalore. ‘Finding Piya’ is his first work of fiction.

Book released at KLF Corner in Bengaluru City :

The Kalinga Literary Festival organized its special KLF Corner where author Subhasis Mishra’s book, ‘Finding Piya,’ was released. Renowned filmmaker Nila Madhab Panda joined the conversation with author Mishra.

They discussed about the book, contemporary issues in literature, film and society at large.

Storyline of Finding Piya :

Subhasis Mishra’s book  ‘Finding Piya’ is a roller-coaster ride of love and betrayal, of beauty and darkness, of innocence and connivance and many more extremes of human emotions.

In the book Finding Piya, through the protagonist Raj’s journey, the reader gets a ringside view of the transformation of Raj from an innocent boy to a student leader and then to a victim of the campus politics, in pursuit of Piya, his love. It can be termed as the latest bundle of  political thrill and campus-love.

Subhasis Mishra’s remarsks :

With his debut novel ‘Finding Piya’, Subhasis Mishra has penned a thrilling roller-coaster ride of extreme human emotions—of love and betrayal, beauty and darkness, innocence and connivance.

Subhasis tells about his writing as, ”
“Well, I was probably not aware of my passion for writing. But then I attended this class and started writing. During the course of writing, my passion changed. I truly became conscious of wanting to tell stories. I started writing the book in 2009 and it took me a few years to finish it.”

An unabashed fan of Jhumpa Lahiri, Subhasis confesses that the renowned writer is his constant source of inspiration. “I am super inspired by Jhumpa Lahiri and her writing style. When I read her book ‘Namesake’, I couldn’t get out of it for days. I was so moved by the book that I could not stop thinking about it. I thought that if I ever write and if I can write in some way like her then that would be worth writing.”

Conclusion :

This may be his first book, but Subhasis’s writing has already found an admirer in renowned film maker Nila Madhab Panda. Sharing his opinion about the book, the director says, “The story by Subhasis is very relatable, especially for people who love the romantic stories of the 90s. Each and every paragraph of this book resembles the screenplay of a movie and would keep the readers fascinated till the last page.”

Raghu Karnad – Windham Campbell prize

Raghu Karnad – Windham Campbell prize

Raghu Karnad –  is a  journalist and writer. He is son of Girish Karnad, a famous theatre personality.   He is the author of Farthest Field: An Indian Story of the Second World War  which was shortlisted for the Hessel-Tiltman Prize for 2016, and was awarded the Sahitya Akademi.

Journalist and writer Raghu Karnad became the second Indian to win the Windham-Campbell Prize; after Jerry Pinto who won the prize in 2016 for his novel ‘Em And the Big Hoom’.

Awards won by Raghu Karnad :

He got Yuva Puraskar for a writer in English the year 2016.  His articles and essays have won international awards including the Lorenzo Natali Journalism Prize  in 2008.

The Press Institute of India National Award for Reporting on the Victims of Armed Conflict in 2008, and a prize from the inaugural Financial Times Bodley Head Essay Competition in 2012. He won the 2019 Windham-Campbell Literature Prize in Non-Fiction for his debut work Farthest Field, An Indian Story of the Second World War.

Positions held :

Karnad was previously the editor of Time Out, Delhi. He has s also contributed articles to The New Yorker, The Atlantic, & The Guardian. While he was a student at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania,  he spent a semester at the American University of Cairo where he managed to get a meeting with Yassar Arafat.

Windham Campbell Literature prizes :

The Donald Windham Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prizes is an American literary award which offers prizes in four categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry and drama. The award was established at Yale University in 2011 with the first prizes presented in 2013. 

Administered by the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library,  the award recognizes English language writers from anywhere in the world.

The mission of the award is to call attention to literary achievement and provide writers the opportunity to focus on their work independent of financial concerns. Up to nine prizes are awarded annually. Winners receive a citation and an unrestricted remuneration.

The individual prizes are among the richest literary prize amounts in the world,  if not the richest in certain categories. The award’s endowment is from the estate of writer Donald Windham. Sandy Campbell was his companion of 45 years.

Raghu Karnad – Windham Campbell Prize :

Karnad won the prestigious Literary award – Windham Campbell award for his debut book ‘The Farthest Field: An Indian Story of the Second World War’ in the non-fiction category.

Raghu Karnad is one of the eight winners who have been chosen across four categories this year. Each of the eight winners won $165,000 as prize money to support their writing. In terms of the award money, Windham-Campbell Prize is one of the richest literary awards worldwide.

Winners of Windham Campbell Prize :

Two Literary award winners were announced this year in each of the 4 categories for the prize, namely- fiction, non-fiction, drama and poetry.

This year’s Windham-Campbell Prize recipients in fiction are Danielle McLaughlin from Ireland and David Chariandy from (Canada. In non-fiction category the winners include Raghu Karnad from India and Rebecca Solnit from United States.

In poetry Ishion Hutchinson from Jamaica and Kwame Dawes from Ghana/Jamaica/United States are the winners and in drama the winners include, Young Jean Lee from United States and Patricia Cornelius from Australia.

Farthest Field: An Indian Story of the Second World War by Raghu Karnad :

The book narrates India’s often overlooked experience in the war.  Karnad delves into his family’s past, learning that three ancestors—ones he knew only from faded photographs—died during WWII.

Their nation’s involvement in that war is largely forgotten and unrecorded. More than a personal history, Karnad’s account encompasses theaters on three continents as he uncovers diaries, logbooks, requisition orders, and correspondence from the “largest volunteer force the world had ever known.” 

The tense, subservient relationship with colonial Britain defined the daily rhythms of army life. Karnad’s prose, hauntingly poetic, evokes an India at the crossroads, sending battalions of its young men to die in defense of the British Empire even as Gandhi and Nehru laid the foundation for its independence.

Karnad shows that in fighting for Britain’s freedoms—freedoms Britain steadfastly refused to extend to Indians themselves—these forgotten soldiers wrote the final chapter of Britain’s grand and cynical colonial project.

Inspiration to write the book – Raghu Karnad:

Discovering that his grandfather and two grand uncles  Bobby, Ganny and Manek  had served in World War II Karnad wanted to write about them. 

Financial need and a yearning for adventure directed the brothers to officers’ training for Britain’s Indian Army, a force that ultimately numbered 2,500,000, the largest volunteer army in history.

One joined the Indian Air Force, where his first assignment was bombing Afghanistan from bases in what is now Pakistan, an activity still in progress 75 years later. He never left India and died in a crash before the end of the war.

A brother, who was a doctor, also died on the Afghan frontier, probably of pneumonia. The third, a lieutenant in the sappers (combat engineers supporting the infantry), fumed at his inactivity for years until he was caught up in the vicious and immense campaign to recapture Burma, where he was killed in late 1944. 

Re-creating history by Raghu Karnad :

The author re-creates their lives and thoughts through unit records, memoirs, and interviews with elderly survivors.

Karnad’s book speaks of every significant event of the war including Pearl Harbour and the Balkan War. But through a journey across several nations, it drives home to capture the narrative of a chapter completely erased from our country’s history: India’s participation in World War II.

Awarding the prize :

The awards will be conferred in September during an annual international literary festival at Yale celebrating the honored writers and introducing them to new audiences.

84th Kannada Sahitya Sammelana starts on January 4, 2019

84th Kannada Sahitya Sammelana starts on January 4, 2019

Kannada Sahitya Sammelana will be held at the University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad grounds from 4th to 6th January 2019.

History of Sammelana

Kannada Sahitya Sammelana is a Kannada Literature Conference of writers, poets and kannadigas takes place. It is held with the aim of preserving and developing kannada language, literature, arts, culture and music.

Sahitya Sammelana was started in 1915 by H.V. Nanjundaiah and held at Bengaluru for the first time.  The 83rd Akhila Bharata Kannada Sahitya Sammelana held from November 24 to 26 in Mysuru. Chandrashekar Patil popularly known as Champa was the president.

It used to be inaugurated by prominent writers and poets from 1915 to 1948. Since then it has been inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Karnataka. The Kannada Sahitya Parishat is responsible for holding the gathering.

Kannada Sahitya Parishat

Kannada Saahithya Parishath means Literary Council. It is an Indian non-profit organisation that promotes the Kannada language. Its headquarters is in the city of Bengaluru. It strives to promote Kannada language through publishing books, organizing literary seminars and promoting research projects.

It also organizes an annual conference on Kannada literature called Kannada Sahithya Sammelana (Kannada Literary Meet). The current president of the parishat is Manu Baligar.

The Committee of the Kannada Sahitya Parishat selected Mr.Kambar as the president of the  Sahitya sammelana.  Jnanapith Award winner Chandrashekhar Kambar will preside over the 84th sammelana. According to the president of the Parishat Manu Baligar the choice was unanimous.

Who is Kambar?

Eighty one year old Kambar is a prominent kannada poet, playwright, folklorist, novelist, research scholar and film director.  He is the founder-vice-chancellor of Kannada University in Hampi. He is also President of the Sahitya Akademi, country’s premier literary institution, after Vinayak Krishna Gokak (1983) and U.R. Ananthamurthy (1993).

He is known for effective adaptation of the North Karnataka dialect of the Kannada language in his plays, and poems, in a similar style as in the works of D.R.Bendre. Kambar is the cultural phenomenon of Modern India.