Veteran actor, noted playwright, Rhodes scholar and Jnanpith awardee Girish Karnad passed away at the age of 81 at his residence in Bengaluru. The actor was suffering from prolonged illness. Karnad was born in Matheran, in Maharashtra on 19th May, 1938. His initial schooling happened in Marathi. He grew up in Sirsi and Dharwad. From a young age he was fond of the performing arts and was a part of several ‘natak mandalis.’ He passed out from Karnatak Arts College in Dharwad and later went on to study at the prestigious Magdalen College in Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.
Apart from being a writer, he was also a writer. He did his acting debut in the Kannada film Samskara. One of his notable acting performances include Malgudi Days, where he played Swamy’s father. His written works revolved around mythology, history and philosophy. His play Tughlaq, received critical acclaim. The play has to be noted for one scene where two guards are standing outside the Daulatabad fort. Convinced of the invincibility of the fort , the younger one says, “This fort is unbeatable. No army could take this. The older, wiser guard takes a look at the fort, looks back at the younger guard, and says, “Inevitably the forts crumble from inside." Much like Tuqhlaq, most of his works were indeed a commentary on the society and contemporary Indian culture.
For as long as he lived, Girish Karnad opposed the growth of the right wing in India and his work was a reflection of that. He stirred quite a controversy during the Tata Literary Fest in 2012, where he openly criticized the organisers for making V S Naipaul to be a part of the panel. In his later years, his performance in the Nagesh Kukunoor film Iqbal, where he plays a ruthless and a manipulative cricket coach, was noteworthy. He also played a RAW agent in the film Ek Tha Tiger and he reprised his role in the sequel, Tiger Zinda Hai, which will now be known as his last onscreen appearance.