U R Ananthamurthy: Against the Current

Pattabhi Rama Reddy’s rendering of Samskara launched the parallel cinema in Kannada.

Written by Pratik Kanjilal | Updated: August 25, 2014 3:33 pm


The man who had refused to live in Narendra Modi’s India has gone to a better place. UR Ananthamurthy, who towered over modern Kannada letters, passed away on Friday in Bengaluru, where he was being treated for renal failure. He died in the city he had named. Ananthamurthy had originated the campaign to rename Bangalore in an effort to decolonise the Kannada mindscape.

Ananthamurthy will be best remembered for Ghatashraddha, a short story, and the novel Samskara. The former was filmed by Girish Kasaravalli and represented India in the 2002 centenary celebration of cinema in Paris. Pattabhi Rama Reddy’s rendering of Samskara launched the parallel cinema in Kannada.

Cinema acquainted global audiences with Ananthamurthy’s work, but Samskara the novel marked an important phase of modern Indian letters. Ananthamurthy was the foremost novelist of the Navya movement in Kannada literature, one of the many new waves which were crashing on the worn coastlines of Indian literary languages in the 1950s and ’60s. In Karnataka, this period saw the rise of powerful literary figures. P. Lankesh and Girish Karnad were Ananthamurthy’s peers in Kannada poetry and theatre, for instance.

Ananthamurthy has been president of the Sahitya Akademi, chairman of the National Book Trust and the FTII, and chancellor of the Central University of Karnataka. An old hand on the conference and festival circuit, he has spoken for Indian literature all over the world, from Jaipur to Frankfurt. His honours include the Jnanpith Award, the Padma Bhushan and the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship. Apart from the loss to literature, his death removes from public life a critic who was never afraid to speak against the motion. Without Ananthamurthy, India will be a quieter and less interesting place.

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  1. A
    Ajay SK
    Aug 23, 2014 at 5:51 pm
    Ask your PM what happened to the Blackmoney? If he doesnt keep his word will he resign and go to Gujarat?
  2. A
    Ajay SK
    Aug 23, 2014 at 5:41 pm
    Dear Sir,You said it right. Few of them become fanatics and go ahead to rule the roost. I wonder they choose the hard core and do they send them on probation to Bajrang Dal?I know what these guys did for their motherland in the name of religion.thanks for your education.
  3. A
    Ajay SK
    Aug 23, 2014 at 4:56 am
    Just like the way you are being misguided by the false propaa perhaps.Admit Mesham. He was bold enough to call Modi for what he is. Even if you believe otherwise. And for that bhakts like you slandered mud on him. And you are just ranting against a literary person. and you included kannadigas as well. What do you know about fanaticism? If you want to know about fanatics - look deep into BJP, RSS and VHP. You will get loads of lessons in fanaticism.
  4. A
    Ajay SK
    Aug 23, 2014 at 5:52 pm
    Probably he should have answered the question, who can be worse than the current crop. Then you would have got your answers.
  5. A
    Ajay SK
    Aug 23, 2014 at 4:59 am
    Your nick speaks volumes about your status of mind. You absence would make net a better place.
  6. D
    Aug 23, 2014 at 6:05 am
    You should do a deep dive into BJP and RSS to understand what they are. I keep seeing loads of comments against RSS from people who have not gone deep inside and they love commenting from outside. Go inside and see the patriotism, sacrifices, respect for those who truly believes India as their nation, continuous teaching that there in nothing bigger that our motherland. Few see it as patriotism, others see it as jingoism. RSS has millions of supporters. Few of them may have become fanatics. As a concept, RSS never teaches fanaticism. Come, join RSS, understand it and then comment. (You may not like my response and you may comment that you already know enough about RSS, which I respect but may not agree).
  7. A
    Aug 23, 2014 at 5:50 am
    a highly respected laureate should not have made a demeaning statement on his choice of p.m public.his condition that if modi is elected he will quit india is latently unpatriotic. anyway all said and done his soul remain in peace even if modi has become p.m. !
  8. B
    Aug 23, 2014 at 4:47 am
    "India will be quieter and less interesting place" - so funny
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