Writing theatre

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BOOK A critical work on Girish Karnad's plays was released recently. The writer reminisced his first brush with writing and his journey thereon

G irish Karnad shared memories from his life as an actor and playwright during the release of a critical work on him “Girish Karnadara Natakagalu: Kannadada Pratikriye” edited by theatre personalities Dr. K. Marulasiddappa and Dr. Krishnamurthy Hanur.

The work comprises of over 55 articles from prominent Kannada litterateurs, 32 pictures from Karnad plays, and engaging interviews. The event was organised by Rangayana and Samvahana publications in Mysore. Karnad spoke on a range of things and here are snatches from what he said: “I wrote my play ‘Yayati' instinctively and the lines got dictated by the characters themselves. I sent the manuscript to G.B. Joshi and he just sent it back with a comment that didn't say anything.

‘The reaction of Dasi in the fourth act of the play is good'. I was disappointed with Joshi's reaction. Later, Keertinatha Kurtukoti asked me to send the manuscript again and helped me bring it to the present form. am greatly indebted to Joshi, Kurtukoti and A.K. Ramanujan, who fine tuned my writing sensibilities and skill. I learnt a lot on structuring and the using appropriate language the play demands.

When ‘Yayati' was published, the noted playwright Sriranga criticised the play in harshest terms. I was delighted, as I succeeded in piquing major playwright of Kannada. My love for writing in English waned and I resolved to write in Kannada. Similarly I was elated when Sriranga appreciated ‘Tuglaq'.

It is difficult to say what inspires me to write a play. In fact ‘Yayati' happened by instinct even though I was not enamoured about mythology then. Though I planned to write ‘Yavakrita' after ‘Yayathi', ‘Agni Mattu Male' happened after 35 years.

Writing a play is just like fostering a child. Some plays need rewriting. Given an opportunity I would like to rewrite ‘Hittina Hunja'. But readers will not tolerate me if I do that. A.K. Ramanujan never completed a poem, he used to abandon them. Likewise, I abandoned ‘Hittina Hunja'.

Play is not a product of talent; it is a technical medium and needs training. I grew from play to play and learnt a lot from Madras Players in Chennai. Form was a major challenge in early days of writing. Unlike Kambar, who employs folk, I had to create form that suits the subjects chosen.

After ‘Agni Mattu Male', I have decided to respond to world around me on the lines of Kailasam and Sriranga, renouncing history and mythology, as images of silicon city after my return from England started haunting me. ‘Odakalu Bimba' is a product of my confrontation with images. Likewise ‘Maduve Album' is my reaction to internet revolution.

Nobody criticised me like Dr. Chidananda Murthy did. Despite ideological and political differences, I have greatest regard for Dr. Murthy as I drew inspiration from his ‘Inscriptions of Karnataka' while making ‘Ondanondu Kaladalli'. Translation is a wonderful and an independent art. Everyone should not indulge in translation. That is why I did not attempt to translate any play into Kannada from other language, except plays of Mahesh Elkunchwar, who writes like Harold Pinter. Nevertheless, I translate my own plays in to English, because of my long association with English theatre.”




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