Girish Karnad passes away: A look at his most memorable acting roles, from Samskara, Nishant to Iqbal
Noted actor, director and thespian Girish Karnad passed away at his residence in Bengaluru at the age of 81 on Monday. A Jnanpith Award, Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan recipient, Karnad is not only remembered as a playwright who ushered in modern Indian playwriting in Kannada, but also for his memorable roles in a number of Hindi and Kannada films.
Karnad made his acting as well as screenwriting debut in 1970, with the Kannada movie, Samskara, based on UR Ananthamurthy's novel. Karnad played Praneshacharya, a devout Brahmin whose only motive in life is to attain moksha (liberation). The film, which presented a strong commentary on the caste system, went onto win the first-ever President's Golden Lotus Award (Swarna Kamal) for Kannada cinema.
Shyam Benegal's 1975 drama Nishant saw Karnad take on the role of the school master, who mobilises an entire village to stand up against their oppressors and bring justice to his sexually abused wife, played by Shabana Azmi. The film was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival. It was also screened at the 1976 London Film Festival, 1977 Melbourne International Film Festival, and 1977 Chicago International Film Festival. Nishant also went on to win the 1977 National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi.
Based on the 1949 Bengali movie of the same name, Basu Chatterjee's Hindi film Swami (1977), is centred around an ambitious Saudamini (Azmi) who is married off without her consent to Ghanshyam (Karnad). Struggling to stay afloat in a environment alien to her, Saudamini is perplexed by the patience with which her husband treats her.
Karnad returned to directing after a decade-long hiatus with Kanooru Heggadithi (1999). He played the role of Chandre Gowda, whose third wife Tara uses unconventional methods to ignite sporadic acts of resistance against men. The film was adapted to screen from Kannada writer Kuvempu's novel Kanooru Subbamma Heggadithi and marked the first instance where a Jnanpith recipient directed a film based on the work of another Jnanpith awardee.
One of his most memorable roles was that of Swami's father in the iconic TV series Malgudi Days, based on RK Narayan's celebrated short story collection. The series was steered by Kannada actor-director Shankar Nag, whose elder brother Anant Nag played a major part in the show.
Other notable mentions
Karnad had also acted in several of Nagesh Kukunoor's films, including Iqbal (2005), Dor (2006), 8 x 10 Tasveer (2009) and Aashayein (2010). His role of a ruthless cricket coach in Iqbal earned him praise from all quarters.
In Kabir Khan's blockbuster hit Ek Tha Tiger, Karnad played the role of RAW chief Dr Shenoy, who sends Salman Khan's spy on an undercover mission to observe a suspected ISI agent. He reprised his role as the RAW head in the sequel Tiger Zinda Hai, helmed by Ali Abbas Zafar.
Updated Date: Jun 10, 2019 13:07:49 IST