Chandrashekar Kambar, regarded as one of the finest Kannada poets after the mystic poet Da. Ra. Bendre, has been honoured with the Jnanpith Award, the eighth for Kannada. With a language that captures the flavour of north Karnataka, Dr. Kambar is among the finest playwrights as well.
His plays Jokumaraswamy and Sangya Balya have seen thousands of performances, not only in Kannada, but several other Indian languages as well.
Dr. Kambar is the recipient of the Sangeet Natak Academy Award, the Sahitya Academy Award, the Kalidas Samman, the Pampa Award, the Kabir Samman, and the Tagore Literature Award.
The versatile writer served as chairman of the National School of Drama and as president of the Karnataka Nataka Academy. Conferred with the Padmashri, he was a nominated member of the Karnataka Legislative Council, representing the Congress. He was the founder-vice-chancellor of the University of Hampi.
“Kambar is a rare literary mind who realises the universal in the indigenous,” said writer U.R. Ananthamurthy, himself a winner of the Jnanpith. “He is the creator of modern puranas. Though it is the eighth honour for Karnataka, it should actually have been the tenth. Gopalakrishna Adiga and Poornachandra Tejaswi deserved it richly,” Dr. Ananthamurthy said.
“Chandrashekar Kambar is the most deserving contemporary Kannada writer to win the Jnanpith Award,” said critic and writer H.S. Raghavendra Rao. Drawing his strength from folklore, Kambar confronted modernity in the most significant manner. With the imaginative faculty of a poet, what Kambar achieved in his plays and novels was, he observed, rather remarkable.
“Though he was influenced by a major poet like Adiga, he had the courage to move away from the literary space the influential poet occupied. He did not even use the Dalit-Bandaya mode of defiance. The manner in which he probed was very original. Kannada poetry, three decades ago, which did ail from ‘middle-class tyranny', was freed by Dr. Kambar. In fact, he is a true-blue poet, and hence one finds his plays resonating with a lyrical quality,” he said.