It is the end of an era in Indian cinema and theatre as Jnanpith winner and noted theatre personality, actor and playwright Girish Karnad passed away at his home in Bengaluru on Monday. He was 81. Karnad has written numerous plays in Kannada and is considered one of Kannada literature's foremost playwrights. Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy expressed his condolences over the veteran's demise, stating that the country has lost a "cultural ambassador."
Deeply saddened to hear of the demise of Jnanpith laureate writer and iconic actor/film maker, Sri #GirishKarnad .— H D Kumaraswamy (@hd_kumaraswamy) June 10, 2019
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. pic.twitter.com/s5bfbh0VgE
Leaders across political parties, authors as well as journalists took to Twitter to express their sorrow at Karnad's passing. President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister D Parameshwara, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Karnataka BJP President BS Yeddyurappa and historian Ramchandra Guha were among those who mourned the loss.
Girish Karnad will be remembered for his versatile acting across all mediums. He also spoke passionately on 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.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 10, 2019
Playwright, actor, director but above all a great human being, in Girish Karnad’s passing India has lost a beloved son, whose memory will live on in the vast treasure trove of creative work he leaves behind.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) June 10, 2019
My condolences to his family & fans around the world. pic.twitter.com/arE8f58ArA
Sad to hear of the passing of Girish Karnad, writer, actor and doyen of Indian theatre. Our cultural world is poorer today. My condolences to his family and to the many who followed his work #PresidentKovind— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) June 10, 2019
Deeply saddened by the demise one of our greatest playwrights & theatre artists, Shri #GirishKarnad. He was among the eight crown jewels of Kannada art & literature world to be conferred with Jnanpith Award.— Dr. G Parameshwara (@DrParameshwara) June 10, 2019
He & his works will be cherished for long. Om shanti.
Sad news coming in the morning about the passing away of veteran noted actor and playwright Girish Karnad. Girish ji's views and artistic contribution will be missed by the country.— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) June 10, 2019
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. I wrote this tribute to him on his 80th birthday:https://t.co/uCY8gi0KGe— Ramachandra Guha (@Ram_Guha) June 10, 2019
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.— Kamal Haasan (@ikamalhaasan) June 10, 2019
Author and politician Shashi Tharoor called Karnad's death a 'devastating loss' and expressed condolences to Karnad's family.
This is a devastating loss. Just a few months ago he sent me the draft of his brilliant new historical play. He was at the peak of his creative talent. Profound condolences to his devoted wife Saras & brilliant son @rkarnad. A flame has been extinguished that lit up so many minds https://t.co/Z8dqtdSx4U— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) June 10, 2019
Several journalists and authors too expressed their sorrow, stating that Indian cinema and theatre will miss the legend.
Shocked to know the demise of Legendary playwriter, actor & Director #GirishKarnad sir. Worked with him in #Mugamoodi & cherish the wonderful memory. Indian Cinema & Stage play will badly miss this legend. Rest in peace sir https://t.co/cc1DxBJCAh pic.twitter.com/oONhDRLfmR— Dr. Dhananjayan BOFTA (@Dhananjayang) June 10, 2019
We are deeply saddened by the demise of multifaceted personality, an acclaimed playwright, filmmaker and actor #GirishKarnad. His films are acknowledged for bringing ruralism, history and mythical pathos with contemporary themes. #RIP pic.twitter.com/puM6lieCUQ— NFAI (@NFAIOfficial) June 10, 2019
How terribly terribly sad. Master playwright, multi-lingual scholar, creator of a unique genre of historical plays like Tughlaq and Hayavadana and a constant beacon of free spirited liberal creativity, gone when India needed him. RIP #GirishKarnad https://t.co/0JUfhHlL91— Sagarika Ghose (@sagarikaghose) June 10, 2019
Girish Karnad was conferred the Padma Shri in 1974 and in 1992, the Indian government awarded Karnad the Padma Bhushan, in recognition of his contributions to the arts. He was the recipient of the Jnanpith Award, India’s highest literary prize, in 1999 for his contributions to literature and theatre.
Girish Karnad wrote his first play, the critically acclaimed Yayati (1961), while still at Oxford. Centred on the story of a mythological king, the play established Karnad’s use of the themes of history and mythology. Karnad’s next play, Tughlaq (1964), tells the story of the 14th-century sultan Muḥammad-ibn-Tughluq and remains among the best known of his works.
The multifaceted author and playwright also hosted a weekly science program on the Doordarshan titled Turning Point. Featuring Indian scientist Yash Pal, the award-winning show explained complex, modern scientific discoveries in simple language.
Even as he aged, he continued to make public appearances at panel discussions and literature festivals to discuss his work. He is survived by his wife Saraswathi, son Raghu Karnad, a journalist and writer and daughter Radha, a doctor based in Kenya.