Karnad slams Tagore

Karnad slams Tagore

After his public criticism of V S Naipaul, writer-actor Girish Karnad has kicked up another storm by calling Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore a “second-rate playwright”.

Talking to reporters near Nelamangala near here, he said, “Tagore was a great poet but a mediocre and second-rate playwright. He produced his plays but those were never produced by his contemporaries. The contemporary Bengali theatre never accepted them.

 I think they did one or two plays. His comedy succeeded but not his other plays.”
Asked the reason behind his contention, the Jnanpith awardee said, “Because he is second rated, what else should one call him? In the last 50 years, India has produced many playwrights such as Badal Sarcar, Mohan Rakesh and Vijay Tendulkar, who are better than Tagore.”

Karnad contended that Tagore did not understand poor characters because he came from the aristocracy. “The poorer people in his plays are really cardboard characters. They have no passion and anguish at all,” he said.

Karnad’s comments have angered the Bengali film and theatre world. Dadasaheb Phalke winning actor Soumitra Chatterji said “It is embarrassing to call a Nobel laureate second rate. You also devalue his contribution to the original development of drama literature in the country. Tagore had his own way of visualising reality.”

Debashish Ray Chaudhuri, who has directed some of Tagore plays, said Karnad is a non-Bengali and so he does not have access to all of the Tagore’s plays. “His comments should not be taken seriously. I think it was in passing. As a playwright, he was ahead of his time.”

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