The river has no fear of memories: Girish Karnad’s last words

June 10, 2022 10:16 pm | Updated 10:16 pm IST - Bengaluru

Jnanapith awardee, playwright, actor and director Girish Karnad.

Jnanapith awardee, playwright, actor and director Girish Karnad. | Photo Credit: MONICA KULKARNI

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

“The conversations were first conceived as a way for Girish Karnad to talk about all the things he had not mentioned in his memoir, This Life at Play, which is about the first half of his life. But once we started talking, the conversations took their own path,” said Arshia Sattar. “The podcast episodes have distilled a freewheeling conversation held over a week into broader themes - playwriting, Kannada literature, existentialism, modern Indian theatre - themes that Girish Karnad would return to over and over again in that week when we spoke. After a week’s conversation, we decided to take a break on June 8 and continue our conversation after two weeks. But he passed away on June 10,” she said. 

The podcast is held together by Arshia Sattar and her colleague in the project Anmol Tikoo, who situate the comments of the thespian and locate the themes in his works by interspersing them with readings from his plays by members of the city’s theatre community.

For instance, when Girish Karnad talks about Bhakti, the podcast has a reading from Flowers about a priest who is questioning his faith in God or a reading of the playwright’s prologue from Nagamandala, when Girish Karnad talks of the struggle with his plays. M.D. Pallavi and Konark Reddy have composed the music for the show and have recreated the famous rangageete Neerina Mele Chitra from Karnad’s Hayavadana, the song which also gives the podcast its title - The River has no fear of Memories. 

The podcast includes an episode in which Vivek Shanbhag speaks to Girish Karnad on Kannada literature and a two-part episode where Shanta Gokhale and Sunil Shanbagh, both from Mumbai, respond to Karnad’s memories and analyses of Indian theatre and present an appreciation of his work in the context of the Indian theatre in general.

The first episode of the podcast streamed on Friday and the remaining eight will be streamed every Friday over the next two months.

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