After his stinging criticism of author and Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul, writer and actor Girish Karnad kicked up a fresh storm by calling Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore a “second-rate playwright.”
Talking to reporters near Nelamangala in the city’s outskirts, he said: “Tagore was a great poet but a mediocre and second-rate playwright. He produced his plays, but those were never produced by his contemporaries. The contemporary Bengali theatre never accepted them. I think they did one or two plays. His comedy succeeded but not his other plays.”
Asked for the reason behind his contention, the Jnanpith awardee said, “Because he is second-rated, what else should one call him? In the last 50 years, India has produced many playwrights like Badal Sircar, Mohan Rakesh and Vijay Tendulkar, who are better than Tagore.”
Last week, during a session on theatre at a literature festival in Mumbai, Mr. Karnad criticised Mr. Naipaul for his views on Indian Muslims, calling him “tone deaf” and an “unreliable” writer of non-fiction as far as India was concerned.
Mr. Karnad also contended that Tagore did not understand poor characters because he came from the aristocracy.
“The poorer people in his plays are really cardboard characters. They have no passion and anguish at all ... His plays did not have any impact. For instance, Bengali theatre personality Girish Ghosh and others were not influenced by him,” he said. “People have the tendency to be reverential about people and think that they are marvellous because they got Nobel Prize or something like that.”