‘Girish Karnad spoke his mind’

From working with him in films to seeking his advice on various matters, Sandalwood had a close connection with Karnad.

When playwright, film director, actor and writer Girish Karnad passed away on June 10, he left behind a void. Actors and filmmakers share with Metrolife their memories of him and also their favourites among his works.

He was my mentor: K M Chaitanya, director and scriptwriter

“I have worked on several projects with him. I started off as an assistant director with him and we worked on ‘Antarala’, which was based on case studies by Dr Ashok Pai. After this, we worked on the series ‘Swarajnama’.

While working on Kannada film ‘Kanooru Heggaditi’ and a series in Hindi based on Kuvempu’s work, he had to go to Delhi as he was awarded the Jnanpith Award. He asked me to take over the direction of ‘Kanooru...’. When he was back and saw my work, he asked me to direct the Hindi series as well.

He also produced two televised mini-series, which I directed. We directed ‘Odakalu Bimba’ (‘Bikhre Bimb’ in Hindi and ‘A Heap of Broken Images’ in English) together.

Even my first feature film ‘Aa Dinagalu’ was offered to me because Girish Karnad told Agni Shridhar (on whose novel the film was based) that a younger person was needed to direct the project.

Everything I have learnt in cinema was because of him. He was my mentor and guru. Even when I became an independent director, I used to show whatever I wrote to him and take his feedback.

He had an amazingly structured mind. He understood gender sensitivity and other sensitive subjects much before they became mainstream, a reason why he felt his plays would resonate with the audience years later.”

Favourite work by Karnad: “My favourite film is ‘Ondanondu Kaladalli’ in which he introduced Shankar Nag. Most art films are so slow and action-less that there is a tendency to lose interest. They don’t engage the audience as much but in this film, there were all the required elements and multiple layers.”

Was a non-fussy person: Kavitha Lankesh, filmmaker

“He acted in my film ‘Tananam Tananam’, in which he played Ramya’s father. When he read the script, he liked the character and agreed to it. He was a non-fussy person. We got a trainer to teach him how to hold a violin properly. He worked on his role as diligently as a student.”

Favourite work by Karnad: “I love a lot of his films and plays, but my favourite at this time is his play ‘Odakalu Bimba’.

It is a modern play that brings to light several issues including plagiarism and how stealing someone’s idea can make you feel guilty and tormented. Arundhati Nag did an excellent job in the play, which was quite haunting.”

Karnad was accommodative: Jacob Varghese, director

“It’s very rare to find a person who can write well, act well and also do direction. Usually, it’s quite a challenge to come across people who are well-spoken and well-read. The best part was that Karnad spoke his mind; most of us refrain and shy away from debating the right things.

I am a fan of his acting too. I had the whole collection of ‘Malgudi Days’, where he played Swami’s father.

I worked with him in ‘Savaari 2’, where he played the role of a journalist. He threw no tantrums and was very accommodative. The best part about artistes like him is that they always leave behind any baggage when they come to the sets. For me, he was the celebrity there.”

Favourite work by Karnad: “Of his films, ‘Kanooru Heggadithi’ is my top choice. He directed and acted in it. The film is based on Kuvempu’s play and B V Karanth did the music, which made it the coming together of three masters.”

Had a multi-dimensional aura: Yogaraj Bhat, actor, director and producer

“I got the opportunity to meet him twice; once at a book release and then at a meeting at his house, for a role. The best way to describe him is that he had a multi-dimensional aura of his own.”

Favourite work by Karnad: “My top choices are the plays ‘Yayati’ and ‘Anju Mallige’ and his autobiography ‘Adadata Ayushya’. Playwriting is not an easy task and he was so good at it. His autobiography was truthful, and I loved the language in it.”

Karnad will continue to live through his works: Aniruddha Jatkar, actor, writer and singer.

“We both hailed from Dharwad. We have visited each other’s house and we were quite close. When I moved to Bengaluru, he was living in JP Nagar and so was I, which led to more meetings. I have worked in projects with him, one being ‘Dor’ which was directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, where he played his son. We spent some quality time together where we discussed many things under the sky. He was close and like a friend. We used to converse in Marathi as we were well-versed in it. ”

Favourite work by Karnad: “He will live through his works. My favourite of these is ‘Hayavadana’, which I also acted in. There are so many intricacies in its lines, which I enjoyed discussing with Karnad. I fondly remember his work in Hindi films ‘Swami’ and ‘Manthan’, as well as his directorial ventures ‘Ondanondu Kaladalli’ and ‘Vamsha Vriksha’.”
 

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