Remembering Girish Karnad, playwright and activist

Today marks the fifth death anniversary of this prolific writer and defender of liberal values

Updated - June 10, 2024 11:23 am IST

Published - June 10, 2024 11:02 am IST

A file photo of Girish Karnad.

A file photo of Girish Karnad. | Photo Credit: K. Bhagya Prakash

Eminent playwright, writer and actor Girish Karnad passed away at the age of 81 on June 10, 2019, at his Bengaluru residence due to multiple organ failure. He had a multifaceted career.

As a writer of historical drama, he delved into the unanswered questions in history, as in his play Rakshasa Tangadi or Crossing Over to Talikote; as an activist, he made a statement with his “Me Too Urban Naxal” placard at an even to commemorate slain journalist Gauri Lankesh in 2018.

Karnad has written plays for over half a century, exploring identity and desire, reworking myths and questioning traditional morality. In his plays, he has humanised demons and written extensively on the plight of the underclass. For his social consciousness, he has repeatedly come under fire from extremist forces.

Three years after his death, the playwright’s voice was brought to life again, with the Bangalore International Centre (BIC) hosting a nine-part podcast titled ‘The River has no fear of Memories’ in 2022. The podcast featured extensive conversations Arshia Sattar had with Girish Karnad for a week in June, 2019, cut short by his death on June 10. The Jnanpith awardee in the conversations looks back on his life, work, and concerns.

Here is a collection of stories from our archives to shed light on Karnad, the playwright and activist.

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