Of Praneshacharya and his 5-decade-long journey

Girish Karnad during the shooting of one of his films.

Girish Karnad who forayed into Sandalwood in 1970 as an actor by playing the lead role of Praneshacharya, a devout Brahmin in “Samskara”, has also directed some epic movies in Kannada.

As a director he also introduced many actors to the Kannada tinsel world who made it big in the years that followed. The prominent among them are Vishnuvardhan and Shankar Nag who enjoyed huge fan following.

Karnad made his directorial debut with Vamshavruksha in 1971. He jointly directed and penned the screen play along with legendary theatre personality B V Karanth. This marked the on-screen debut of Vishnuvardhan in the movie, which was based on a novel by S L Byrappa. In his career, Vishnuvardhan acted in 200 films in Kannada alone.

Later in 1978, Karnad directed “Ondanondhu Kaaladalli”, through which Shankar Nag made his debut as a hero. For cinematography, screenplay and dialogues, Ondanondu Kaaladalli was considered as one of the finest films ever made in those days.

It has some fascinating stunt scenes, involving desi martial arts style Kalaripayattu. With wide tracking photography, great shots of Malenadu forests and excellent detailing, “Ondanondu Kaladalli” was considered as a masterpiece. Through the same film, Kavitha Krishnamurthy started her career as a playback singer. Shankar Nag in his decade-long career portrayed multiple roles as an actor, director and producer.

In 1977, the bilingual film Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane, again Karnad jointly directed with BV Karanth marked the Kannada debut of Naseeruddhin Shah and Om Puri. The movie was again based on Byrappa’s novel. Nine years later, Shankar Nag got an offer from Karnad to play a prominent role in TV serial Malgudi Days, where Karnad played the role of Swamy’s father. The series was directed by Shankar Nag, which was based on the novel with same name penned by R K Narayan.

As an actor Karnad, was seen in a few memorable roles like Praneshacharya in Samskara, directed by Pattabirama Reddy based on the novel written by Jnanapeeta laurete U R Ananth Murthy. He has also shared screen space with some of the film biggies like Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Shahrukh Khan, Chiranjeevi, Salman Khan, Shivaraj Kumar, Puneeth Rajkumar, Sudeep, Prabhudeva and others.

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