From filmmaker Ali Abbas Zafar and actor Deepti Naval to theatre artiste Arjun Sajnani, tributes pour in for Girish Karnad

Theatre artistes, playwrights, filmmakers and actors mourn the death of Girish Karnad

author_img Team Indulge Published :  10th June 2019 01:57 PM   |   Published :   |  10th June 2019 01:57 PM
Girish Karnad

A still from Tiger Zinda Hai

Theatre artiste, playwright, filmmaker and film actor Girish Karnad's demise has left a huge void in the fields he was working in. Artistes who have worked with him and those who have been mentored by him share their condolences.

Ali Abbas Zafar, director, Tiger Zinda Hai
For me, it was a great experience to work with a man like Girish Sir. Not only as an actor, but he was such a gentleman and such a knowledgeable soul. Not just the film fraternity, the entire nation will miss him. While working with him in Tiger Zinda Hai, Salman (Khan), Katrina (Kaif) and I had a fabulous time. He was one of those people who could very nicely and easily tell you what they think is right and wrong. He was very  articulate about his knowledge. I shared a professor-student relationship, am deeply sadden by his demise.

Ashish Sen, Theatre personality
This is such tragic news. This is a very sad day for all of us, not just theatre practitioners and theatre lovers, but also for those who believe in the values Mr Karnad stood for - secularism and democracy. Yes he was a legend in theatre and literary circles, but above all, he was a rare and fine human being. I remember when I was staging one of my first plays in Bangalore, in 1989-1990, an adaptation of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui by Bertolt Brecht, he was very supportive, not merely with feedback, but he also brought in a whole lot of viewers for the show. We need more Girishes in the world. I want to say ‘Thank you Girish for staying with us for so long.’”

Arjun Sajnani, Theatre personality and restaurateur
Though I knew he was ailing, I’m devastated. One never really wants it to happen. I have the honour of working on his last play, Road to Talikota, which will be staged on October 2, at Chowdiah Memorial Hall. He gave me the play three months ago, and it will be a tribute to his intelligence, spirit and passion.

Deepti Naval, Actor and theatre personality
I haven’t worked with him much, but he did play my father in one film. I know him as a writer and I admire his writing. It was very interesting. I did get a chance to interact with him on a few occasions and my most memorable one being when he was at the Nehru Centre in London. I had a photo exhibition there and a book reading and that’s when we got to talk, exchange thoughts and ideas. I just wish I had more opportunities to work with him.

Samyukta Hornad, Actor
When I was born he came home and gifted a silver cup and he said to my mom (Sudha Belawadi), ‘This girl is going to bring you a lot of happiness’. I did my first movie Aa Dinagalu with him where he played my father and coincidentally my mom’s first movie, Bhootayyana Maga Ayyu, was also with him. He was always very sweet and caring. The world is going to miss him and I will too, more than many others.

Zafer Mohiuddin, Theatre artiste who translated and staged Girish Karnad's play Dreams of Tipu Sultan to Hindi and Urdu
My relationship with Girish Saab goes back to 1995, when I wrote the dialogues for his TV serial Antaral. Afsos! My mentor, philosopher and guide with whom I was closely associated for over 25 years is no more. His death is a great loss not just for theatre but for the country. He was working with his oxygen pipe on. In fact, when I had asked him why he is pushing himself like this and why he even agreed to act in the film, Tiger Zinda Hai, with the oxygen pipe, he in turn asked me, 'Zafer, if you can't see will you stop working? Won't you wear glasses and work? Similarly, I am working with my oxygen pipe'."

KV Sidhartha, Co-founder of Coimbatore Arts and Theatrical Society
He was an amazing playwright. I had the privilege of meeting him when he visited Coimbatore to meet a close friend of his, Dino Hataria -  a veteran in the city’s theatre circuit. Some members from our theatre group also had the chance to participate in a play titled Wedding Album, as a part of the theatre festival in the city and it was a well received by the audience. The play was also witnessed by his wife. I loved the play as it was multi-layered and deeply revelatory about the India that we live in today. 

Jayashree Murthy- Sthyaayi School of Theatre Arts
I have seen almost all of his plays. 15 days ago I had asked if I could translate Hayavardhana into Tamil and if it could be staged in Coimbatore. He agreed by replying to my email, which read “Dear Jayashree, more power to your elbow.” I have also been fortunate to act in one of his plays, Wedding Album, which was staged in Coimbatore. If I had to pick my favourite play by Karnad it would have to be Nagamandala because it dealt with the agony and anguish that men and women face in society, especially in a marriage. 

Mohammad Ali Baig, Theatre revivalist
It's a great loss of the country. The world of theatre has lost a prominent figure. He was not just a playwright, but a skilled actor and a brilliant director as well. He was an accomplished, humble man. There are very few people like him. He was a major playwright of the country who took theatre to a different level. But he will always be remembered for including rural folks in his plays.

Subhash Gupta, Theatre director, actor and playwright
It's a huge loss not just in the areas of theatre but in writing and acting as well. I met him a couple of times in Delhi. In 1986 I worked with him in a Doordarshan serial directed by Khalid Sultan, which was on HIV patients. We both played the roles of doctors. I remember him as a soft-spoken, mild-mannered gentleman. He was a large-hearted man who didn’t charge any royalty or fee when directors wanted to adapt his plays. On the contrary, he encouraged several of them to come forward and contribute more to the world of theatre.

Ranjon Ghoshal, Theatre personality
We staged Girishji's Hayavadana in its English version as early as in 1980 in the city of Bangalore. And we were the first ever theatre group to have done so in Karnataka. This production brought us closer. Much later,  when he was the Director of Nehru Bhavan in London, where I was anchoring a television talk show, Girishji generously appeared for one of the episodes wherein we discussed Indian theatre in a third world perspective. That we somewhat differed in our  political ethos is a different matter. Especially, Karnad's perspective of Rabindranath Tagore's contribution to theatre has always dumbfounded and pained a lot of Tagore aficionados, myself included.