Thespians fume at Karnad's comments on Tagore

Thespians in West Bengal are aghast at playwright and actor Girish Karnad calling Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore a "mediocre playwright".

"It makes no difference. We should ignore his comments. Tagore's work has been recognised and accepted across India since the last 150 years," said theatre personality Bibhas Chakraborty.

But theatre and film actor Kaushik Sen said the comments could not be ignored.
"It certainly makes a difference as Karnad is an established theatreperson. In my opinion, there is insecurity on his part.

"Besides plays are meant to be staged. Reading a play and staging it are two different things. You can't judge if you haven't staged them," he said.

Karnad, the celebrated 74-year-old Kannada playwright, actor and film director, had Friday said Tagore was a great poet but as a playwright he was mediocre and second rate.

"The then Bengali society didn't accept his plays. None of his contemporaries considered him as a great playwright," said Karnad, who too has written acclaimed Kannada plays such as "Tughlaq" (1964), "Hayavadana" (1972) and "Nagamandala" (1988).

"Theatre or any culture is local. Without knowing the local culture, how can you judge? Besides Tagore is not well understood by everybody.

"I have known Girish for many years. He is fairly intelligent. But his comment is very unfortunate," said theatre director Rudraprasad Sengupta.

Karnad, a recipient of the country's highest literary honour Jnanpith, had said in Bangalore: "People have the tendency to be reverential about people and think that they are marvellous because they got Nobel Prize or something like that."

Tagore, who won the top literature prize in 1913, mainly for his poetry collection "Gitanjali", wrote many Bengali plays and dance dramas, including "Raja" (1910), "Dakghar" (1912), "Achalayatan" (1912), "Muktadhara" (1922) and "Raktakaravi" (1926).

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