The entire literary, theatre and film community came to a standstill today morning as the news of the demise of veteran Girish Karnad made the headlines. The reactions and the prayers started flowing in on social media across the country. In this piece, we shall talk about some of his notable works in Cinema as it is the day where we should remember his contributions.
Girish Karnad entry into the world of reels happened through the film Samskara which is directed by Pattabhirama Reddy. Samskara is the adaptation of the novel of the same name by UR Anantmurthy who handed over the manuscript to Karnad to turn it into a screenplay. The film which had a strong anti-caste message was banned by the Madras Censor board which was lifted later after the intervention of Information and Broadcasting Ministry. The film bagged the National Award for Best Feature Film and was also internationally recognized through Locarno International Film Festival which awarded the Bronze award for the film.
Vamsha Vriskha (1972)
The first instance of Girish Karnad trying his hand at the direction, Vamsha Vriksha was co-directed by his dear friend, BV Karanth. Like Samskara, this film too is based on a novel of the same name by SL Byrappa. With Vamsha Vriksha, it was clear that Girish Karnad had strong socio-political beliefs and also that he is going to challenge the norms in every work of his. The film won two National Awards; Best Kannada Film and Best Direction. This film also marked the debut of Vishnuvardhan.
Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane (1977)
Story by SL Byrappa and Screenplay by Girish Karnad and BV Karanth, Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane revolved around the cultural problems experienced by an American woman who decides to leave America and settle in India. The film was also the debut of Nasseruddin Shah in Kannada films. At 25th National Awards, it was awarded the Best Kannada Feature Film.
Ondanondu Kaaladalli (1978)
With certain influences from the Samurai films of Akira Kurosawa, Karnad directed the epic film Ondanondu Kaaladalli which starred Shankar Nag in the lead. It was one of the first few times where Karnad solo directed a film. The film won the National Award for Best Kannada Feature film. The jury went onto state that “For delineating the code of warrior’s ethics in a medieval setting with a modern vision. The film has excellent outdoor photography, high standard of acting and an eye-catching decor”. Shankar Nag also won the Best Actor: Silver Peacock award for his work in the film.
The film which touched upon the marital life in the Dakshin Kannada region and questioned the essence of a true husband. The movie also portrayed the lifestyle, food habits and routine habits of the medieval period of Karnataka. The title of the film refers to a popular ritual in the Dakshin Kannada region. The film was adapted from the story written by Karnad and was directed by TS Nagabharana. The film starred Prakash Raj and went onto win several prestigious awards.
Today, we have lost a playwright, a filmmaker, an author and one of the original thinkers of our times. If you haven’t watched his films, there is no better day than today to watch, honor and respect his contributions.