Girish Karnad was born on 19 May 1938 in a Brahmin of Matheran, Bombay presidency in British India. He was a great playwright, director, and actor in India. His father’s name was Rao Saheb Dr. Karnad and his mother was Krishna Bai Mankeekara. She was a young widow and poor. So she had to earn for living. She started working as a nurse and cook for the bedridden wife of Raghunath Karnad who was a doctor in the Bombai Medical Services. Some five years later, Krishnabai and Raghunath got married. The marriage was controversial because of the prevailing social prejudice against widow remarriage. Girish was the third of the four children born thereafter.
Girish Karnad Education
Karnad’s initial schooling was in Marathi. He was interested in theater since childhood and he joined Natak Mandalis a traveling theater group. His family moved to Dharvar, Karnatka when he was 14 years old. He enrolled in Karnatak Arts College, Dharwad, and received his bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Statistics in 1958. He got the Rhodes Scholarship in 1960 and went to England to study for a master’s at the University of Oxford. There he received a master’s degree in philosophy, political science, and economics. Karnad was elected the President of the Oxford Union in 1962–63.
Girish Karnad Literary Career
He had been working for 7 years with the oxford university press, Chennai from 1963 to 1970. He reigned from the press for full-time writing. After that, he was involved with a local theatre group, The Madras Players. He worked as director of the Film and Television Institute from 1974 to 1975 in India. During 1987-88, he was a visiting professor at the University of Chicago. He had been serving as chairman of the Sangeet Natak Akademi from 1988-93. From 2000-2003, He served as director of the Nehru Centre and as Minister of Culture, in the Indian High Commission, London.
Girish Karnad is best known as a playwright. He wrote plays in Kannada and translated them into English, most of them, he translated by himself. He rises as a playwright in the 1960s marking the coming of age of Modern Indian playwriting in Kannada For four decades and has been composing plays, often using history and mythology to tackle contemporary issues. He was conferred Padma Shree (1972) and Padma Bhushan (1974) by the Government of India and won four Film Fare Award. He is among seven recipients of the Jnanpith Award for Kannada, the highest literary honour conferred in India. Nagamandala is a folktale transformed into the metaphor of the married woman. It is a Chinese box story with two folktales transformed into one, superstition, fact and fantasy, instinct and reason, the particular and the general held to produce a drama with universal evocations. Karnad is internationally known as a playwright but is also a highly talented filmmaker, a versatile actor, an able cultural administrator, a noted communicator, and a person of wide accomplishments and interests. Based on his serious explorations of folklore, mythology, and history, the subject of his plays reflects the problems and challenges of contemporary life and endeavors to forge a link between the past and the present. The creative intellectual that he is, he obviously views the subjects of his plays from his own perspective, develops them in the crucible of his own imagination and personal experiences, and employs them as a medium to communicate his own independent and original-feelings thoughts, and interpretations.
Girish Karnad Famous Works
- Agni Mathu Male
- Tippuvina Kannasugalu
- He is a Director, actor, and screenplay writer for many Kannada movies such as Samskara, Vamsha Vriksha, Kadu, and Kanooru Heggadithi.