Veteran theatre actor Enagi Balappa dies at 103

‘People would fall at his feet after his convincing portrayal of Basaveshwara’

Veteran theatre actor, singer, and owner of professional repertories, Enagi Balappa, passed away in his village of Enagi near Savadatti in Belagavi district on Friday. He was 103 years old.

Born Balappa Karibasappa Lokur in 1914, he came to be known as Enagi Balappa, a towering personality among professional theatre artists of India. He performed across the country and abroad. He had mentored hundreds of actors, singers, and artistes. His son, Nataraj, who was an accomplished actor himself, died in 2012.

Balapppa won numerous awards, some of the noted ones being the Sangeet Natak Akademi award and the Union Human Resource Development Ministry’s honorary fellowship. He had also served as the chairman of the Karnataka Nataka Academy. “He was famous for his portrayal of Basaveshwara. His performances in plays such as Basaveshwara Mahime were so convincing that people would fall at his feet, believing him to be an incarnation of Basaveshwara,’’ says Ganesh Amingad, his biographer. He played Basaveshwara in a farewell performance in Ravindra Kalakshetra, Bengaluru, soon after celebrating his 100th birthday.

He was known as a walking encyclopedia of theatre for his elephantine memory of different plays and theatrical songs. Karnataka Nataka Academy recorded over 150 songs that he recited from memory in 2005. In the pre-Independence era, he was disciplined by the British government when he staged a play on Kittur Rani Channamma, who fought the East India Company’s forces, and Sangya-Balya, a play perceived to be anti-establishment. He closed down his company and went to work as an actor in other drama companies. After Independence, he started another company and staged plays related to the freedom struggle.

He will be cremated with full State honours at his village on Saturday at 11 a.m.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 8:01:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/veteran-theatre-actor-enagi-balappa-dies-at-103/article19520458.ece

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