Politics of language

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AT EASE Girish Karnad explores contemporary life
AT EASE Girish Karnad explores contemporary life

Girish Karnad believes mother tongues will continue to be dominant in the current multi-lingual scenario

Writer, actor, director and theatre pro Girish Karnad has many portfolios. Known for Tughlaq, Nagamandala, Agni Mattu Male (The Fire and the Rain), Odakalu Bimba, Hayavadana, Yayaathi, Tippuvina Kanasugalu, Taledanda and other popular productions, Karnad has also successfully taken few of them to a larger audience, on to the celluloid world. But theatre is something that continues to remain close to his heart. A tête-à-tête with the writer on his works. You are a bilingual writer equally at ease in Kannada and English. But now we all, in the big cities especially, seem to be shifting to a new kind of multilingual situation in which-- for the vast middle class-- English is more and more becoming the language of conversation and expression even at home.I think so. Inevitably it will. A lot of our children will write in English. But as far as the performing arts are concerned, I believe the mother tongues will continue to be dominant. All these cable channels are coming in regional languages or in Hindi, and not in English. But more and more children study in English medium schools even in rural areas. But I think they will enjoy their humour and tragedies in the mother tongue. Unless they change their mother tongue itself, and speak to their wives in English as I do. But I don't think that will happen so soon. They will go to English schools. But even that is unfortunate if our states are so stupid as not to develop computer softwares, which can also work well for Telugu or Kannada. You know primary education in Kannada is so poor that even if you want to send your child to a Kannada school you wouldn't send him to a government school. This is dangerous.

Learning English

People wanting English is understandable. But what amazes me is the governments have given it up, lost interest. Because there is so much pressure. But frankly I think a lot of people would send their children to bilingual schools which would teach Kannada as well as they do English. For instance the Sardar Patel Vidyalaya in Delhi teaches as good Hindi as it teaches English. A lot of people would be happy to avail of that kind of a choice. In France and Germany or Holland, they learn both the languages. They speak English very well now. And continue very well with their mother tongues too. Why should we not be able to do that? After Tughlaq, you haven't touched upon politics in a major way in your plays. Also contemporary issues didn't seem to interest you much. But this play is so contemporary. Will we have something on contemporary politics also soon? Perhaps it will come. I did avoid contemporary life because I think writing on the most recent headlines is no good. One must write something significant about it.

With honesty

One must be able to explore it in the play with some honesty and not just making a comment. And I think I have been able to do that in Bikhre Bimb and I think I have done it in The Wedding Album which I have just finished writing, So let's see.SUMANASPATI




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