What city artistes say about Hirannaiah

What city artistes say about Hirannaiah

Vikram with Master Hirannaiah.

Well-known senior theatre artiste Master Hirannaiah passed away because of a liver complication yesterday in the city.

Known by his stage name Master Hirannaiah, he was one of the most reputed theatre artistes in India.

Having acted in more than 11,000 plays, Hirannaiah has also acted in notable films íncluding ‘Care of Footpath 2’ and ‘No 73 ‘Shanthi Nivasa’.

Following the death of this legendary actor, Metrolife spoke to a few Bengaluru-based theatre artistes who have worked with Hirannaiah.


Theatre artiste and serial actor

I was a student at Natana School of Theatre Arts, Mysuru, when I met Hirannaiah for the first time; he had come for the inauguration of the academy.

The best thing about him was that he never saw theatre as just acting, He used to personalise and add his own element into it, which made all his plays special.

Hirannaiah, who was always spontaneous could never do scripted scenes.

I think that’s the reason we don’t see him in many films; his improvisations were always the highlight of the play.

The singers would stop singing sometimes and look at him act; they would not know when to sing because of his improvisations.

Lately, as he could not walk, he was seen sitting and acting in his place -- something only someone like Master Hirannaiah is capable of.

The person is not here with us today, but his teachings are. It is our duty now to carry forward his legacy.



Actor and singer

I met Master Hirannaiah at a function, where he was the chief guest; that was the first ever time I spoke to him in person.

I grew up watching his plays; he is indeed an inspiration for young artistes like me.

I like his ‘Nadubeedi Nataka’; ‘igen maadtiya appanni’ is my favourite dialogue from the play.

Though a famous personality, he was always a people person. He was never detached like other celebrities; his language was understood by common people, and I think that is the best thing about him.


N C Mahesh
Theatre artiste and Kannada professor

I met Master Hirannaiah during a play at Kalakshetra when I was 12 or 13 years old. I continued watching the play with no idea at all about theatre. I saw everyone laughing their hearts out listening to him. That is the moment I developed a huge admiration and respect towards his works.

Also known for his caustic barbs on the political class dipped in humour on stage, his play ‘Lanchavatara’ is relatable to people even today. He never repeats his dialogues on stage; even if it is the same play, he changes the dialogues and situations according to the current political scenario, making the play new with every staging. Among his plays, ‘Nadubidi Narayana’ is my favourite. He knew how to bring out serious and elements concerning society through comedy.

Also, my dramatics team and I have planned to come up with a biopic on Hirannaiah; we were lucky enough to have read the script and staged the play in front of Hirannaiah himself.

Srinath Vijayendra
Theatre artiste

Although I am a student of him, the fact of not sharing the stage with him even once saddens me.

Master Hirannaiah inspires everyone who works with him. While acting on stage, he used to communicate with the audience and even ask for their feedback on stage, following the concept of ‘breaking the third wall’. He also would make sure to hold their attention  throughout the play.

He used to analyse the audience first and improvise accordingly; he was very spontaneous on stage.

We wrote a play called ‘Naanu Master Hirannaiah’, where I played the role of Hirannaiah’s father. We also did a two-hour script reading at Master’s house.

Also, on World Theatre Day, our theatre company visited him to celebrate the day with him.


Sample of his jokes, and what he got away with

The loquacious Master Hirannaiah was known for his extempore wisecracks on stage. They are not easily translated, but here is an attempt.

On Veerappan

Hirannaiah: How many years have you been looking for him?

Politician: Fifteen-18 years.

Hirannaiah: And how much have you spent?

Politician: Rs 300-400 crore.

Hirannaiah: That’s a lot. You could have given him a crore and invited him to be a politician.

Politician: What? How can you trust the nation in the hands of a bandit?

Hirannaiah: Who do you think is running the nation? At least 60 per cent are his type.

On movie stars

Hirannaiah: What do you do?

Actor: I am a movie star.

Hirannaiah: Can you sing?

Actor: No, playback singers do that.

Hirannaiah: Dance?

Actor: No, there’s a dance master for that.

Hirannaiah: And action?

Actor: We have stunt masters.

Hirannaiah: Then what do you do?

Actor: Nothing. That’s why I’m a star.

On footwear fetish

Hirannaiah: Why are you happy even when you are going barefoot?

Man: Our leader showed me a man without legs.

Hirannaiah: Check out our neighbouring state. There’s a leader with 720 pairs of footwear.

Man: How did she get so many?

Hirannaiah: She was acting in films, and producers gave her 10 pairs for each film. And then, when she was chief minister, people rained some pairs on her.