C.R. Simha was an accomplished actor and director

The death of veteran theatre and film actor and director C.R. Simha marks the end of a glorious chapter in Karnataka’s theatre and celluloid history.

Simha had hogged the limelight in both plays and films for decades. Through his performance in films such as Samskara, Sankalpa, Bara and Chitegoo Chinte, Simha etched an indelible impression in the minds of the audience. Similarly, theatre buffs would not forget his role in Girish Karnad’s play Tughlaq. Simha created a record of sorts by enacting Tughlaq’s role for nearly three decades.

Simha was also a popular character actor in mainstream films. He had acted in over 150 films and directed five films, including Kakanakote, based on the eponymous play of Masti Venkatesh Iyengar.

Born in 1942, Channapatna Ramaswamy Simha made his first stage appearance when he was just 12. He started his theatre career through Prabhat Kalavidaru. As a member of the theatre troupe of the National College in Basavanagudi here, he acted in many plays.

Theatre group

He started the theatre group Nataranga in 1972 along with Lokesh and Kappanna and staged plays such as Tughlaq, Sankranti and Kakanakote. He became a member of Bangalore Little Theatre and directed and acted in Kannada adaptations of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Othello. He also directed and acted in many English plays written by Moliere, Bernard Shaw, Edward Albee and Neil Simon, among others.

In 1983, Simha started another theatre group Vedike, in which his one-man show Typical TP Kailasam became a huge success. Some of other plays staged by him are Meese Bandoru, Bhairavi, Karna and Rasa Rishi Kuvempu. His son, Ritwik Simha, later directed a film based on Rasa Rishi Kuvempu, with Simha in the lead.

Mourning Simha, veteran actor Shivaram said, “It’s an end of a glorious chapter in the cultural history of Karnataka.”

Simha’s brother and actor Srinath said, “I lost a part of my life.”

Anant Nag, who acted with Simha in films including Bara and Sankalpa, said, “I was a newcomer when Sankalpa was being shot. I learnt a lot from Simha. I still remember his performance as Bhimoji in M.S. Sathyu’s Bara.

He said, “I had the opportunity of watching him on the stage too. He used to attract the audience through his physique and voice.”

‘An irreparable loss’

Special Correspondent from Mysore writes: Minister for Revenue V. Srinivas Prasad mourned Simha on Friday.

In a statement, Mr. Srinivas Prasad said, “Simha’s contribution to theatre and films was immense. His personality and skills were an inspiration to younger artistes. His death is an irreparable loss to theatre and the Kannada film industry.”