The Triveni Kala Sangam auditorium had standing room Friday as the Delhi theatre and literary world gathered to pay respects to the late playwright Girish Karnad, who died in Bengaluru June 10. The meeting was organised by Raj Kamal Prakashan, which has published many of Karnad’s writings in Hindi.
Bharat Karnad, national security expert and Girish’s nephew, recalled growing up in a house not too far away from his uncle’s house in Dharwad.
“I remember him as a great mimic — perhaps that is where his acting was rooted. I remember watching Moby Dick with him and he came home and mimicked Captain Ahab. When I went to study abroad and read Moby Dick again, I could only imagine Girish as Captain Ahab,” said Bharat.
Girish’s fearlessness in the face of intolerance was a recurring theme. “I am remembering not a playwright, writer or director, but a lone voice who always spoke in the face of oppression. During the Emergency, when many chose to stay silent, he resigned from FTII in protest,” said theatre artiste Arvind Gaur.
Former NSD director Devendra Raj Ankur, writer Tripurari Sharma and theatreperson M K Raina also recalled interactions with the stalwart. Documentary filmmaker Anwar Jamal recalled how he came close to making a film on Karnad. “He asked me where would it start from. I answered that it would unfold from a fight he and Satyadev Dubey would have at Shyam Benegal’s house, and they would be thrown out for creating a ruckus by Shyamji’s wife. The fighting duo would return after an hour, drunk out of their wits,” said Jamal.
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