Samskara was U.R. Ananthamurthy’s first novel which was a landmark. The novel looked at the caste system, religious codes, culture and traditions and the uncertain relationship between traditional and cultural values.
The novel, which sparked a raging controversy, was made into a film by Pattabhi Rama Reddy, which marked the dawn of parallel film movement in Kannada.
Dr. Ananthamurthy was shortlisted for DSC Prize for South Asian literature in 2012 for his novel Bharatipura (1973), which mirrors his life-long preoccupation with moving beyond caste and class interests in modern society. He was nominated for the Man Booker International Prize in 2013 for his overall contribution to fiction, but lost to American Lydia Davis. He was among the 10 Indian writers to have made it to the finals of the prestigious award.
Aside from being a writer, Dr. Ananthamurthy wore many hats, including that of an English teacher, Vice-Chancellor, Sahitya Academy Chairman, National Book Trust president, and the head of Film and Television Institute of India.
Though aware of the gravity of his illness, he often joked about it till the very end. He said that the extreme cleanliness it imposed on him and those around him was like returning to his conservative childhood home where he could never touch anything without washing and bathing. Referred to as “meshtru” by hundreds of his direct and indirect students and admirers, Dr. Ananthamurthy was known for his charismatic character, even though there was always an army of critics who watched every word he uttered.