He was indeed last of the Mohicans – so say and in passing away of Girish Karnad, the world of entertainment, theatre and cinema has lost a doyen whose void cannot be fulfilled. After all, where in the world of entertainment does one find a Rhodes Scholar rubbing shoulders with the film stars to make his presence felt? His unassuming persona is what endeared him to the audience across the vast canvas of entertainment and he could slip into roles from a Good Samaritan to a cruel villain with consummate ease.
Way back in the early eighties when the television serials where making their presence felt, ala the OTT in present times, he made his presence felt in a decisive manner through the role he enacted in the serial KHANDAAN, the first business saga of entertainment world on the lines of DYNASTY the famous serial. He was the darling of the eye for the alternate cinema that was evolving during those times and he made his presence felt in a decisive manner. The role that can be singled out from that era, if one is taking of the development perspective, was the role that he had enacted in MANTHAN and it is perhaps the only commercial film that continues to inspire women in particular and men as well to adopt commercial dairying.
He was the man who gave the world of entertainment a marquee film UTSAV, which could perhaps be amongst the most refined period saga, where the attention to details was such that it could not be emulated subsequently. Even the musical instruments which were used in UTSAV belonged to the era which UTSAV had tried to etch out, and how could it not be? After all, Girish Karnad was the man who was teaching theatre at Oxford University and he brought in all his expertise into UTSAV to make it a visual treat.
Hailing from Dharwad, the cultural city of India down South, he was the man who revived the traditional Kannada theatre- Yakshgana- and catapulted it into the national and the international conscience. His association in revival of Kannada theatre was colossal and he could facilitate the same as he worked on it through a heady admixture of history, folk tales and mythology. A Jnanpith Award winner he was also awarded Padma Shri.
He was the man who gave a visual representation to R.K. Narayan’s classic Malgudi Days and though the serial was in a fictional town somewhere in Mysore, it was Girish Karnad’s presence that made the serial enduring for viewers all across the country.
Even a Salman Khan would feel sad on his passing away, as Girish Karnad’s enactment of the role in EK THA TIGER and TIGER ZINDA HAI added a sense of gravitas to the film. Modernist to the core, in his passing away the world of entertainment has indeed suffered a grave loss. May be he could bring in the modernist perspective in his thought process and in his association with the world of entertainment on account of the fact that he graduated in Mathematics and Statistics from Karnataka Arts College Dharwad and the analytical insight that mathematics provided would have helped him to dissect and bisect an issue through formulas and theorems.
Even in his death he has ensured that the idea of modernism that he practiced stayed with him till his mortals remains are consigned to the ether. He had ordained that no state honor be accorded to him nor would any religious practices be associated in his funeral. World of entertainment indeed has been orphaned.