Girish Raghunath Karnad is a contemporary writer, playwright, actor and movie director in Kannada language. He is the latest of seven recipients of Jnanpith Award for Kannada, the highest literary honour conferred in India.
For four decades Karnad has been composing plays, often using history and mythology to tackle contemporary issues. He is also active in the world of Indian cinema working as an actor, director, and screenwriter, earning numerous awards along the way. He was conferred Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan by the government of India.
Girish Karnad was born in Matheran, Maharashtra, into a Konkani-speaking family. His initial schooling was in Marathi. As a youngster, Karnad was an ardent admirer of Yakshagana and the theater in his village.
e earned his Bachelors of Arts degree from Karnataka University, Dharwad, in 1958. Upon graduation Karnad went to England and studied at Lincoln and Magdalen colleges in Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, earning his Master of Arts degree in philosophy, political science and economics. Karnad was a Visiting Professor and Fulbright Scholar in Residence at the University of Chicago.
His directorial debut came with the movie VamshaVruksh, based on a Kannada novel by S.L. Bhairappa. The movie won several national and international awards. Before this, Karnad acted in a movie called Samskara, based on a novel by U.R. Ananthamurthy and directed by Pattabhirama Reddy. That movie won the first President?s Golden Lotus Award for Kannada cinema. Later, Karnad directed several movies in Kannada and Hindi. Some of his famous Kannada movies include Tabbaliyu neenade magane, Ondanondu Kaaladalli, Cheluvi and Kadu.
His Hindi movies include Utsav, Godhuliand the recent Pukar. A recently acclaimed movie by Karnad is Kanooru Heggaditi, based on a novel by Kannada writer Kuvempu. Karnad has also acted in several other movies and received critical acclaim.
He has been criticised by the eminent Kannada novelist S.L. Bhairappa for being untrue to history in order to curry favor with the establishment.