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Girish Karnad: An ‘Utsav’ of brilliance who was undisputed ‘Swami’ of Indian playwrights

Girish Karnad: An ‘Utsav’ of brilliance who was undisputed ‘Swami’ of Indian playwrights
For those growing up in India during late 80s and early 90s, Girish Karnad was a face of everything smart. From playing iconic roles in India’s New Wave Cinema to telling us all about cosmic mysteries on Doordarshan’s ‘Turning Point’ and playing beloved father in ‘Malgudi Days’, Karnad was every inch the cerebral talent that traversed the diverse fields of theatre, cinema and TV. Karnad breathed his last at 6:30 am today. He was 81. As India mourns the Oxford-returned doyen of theatre and parallel cinema, here are top five Hindi films that will define Girish Karnad for generations to come.
Girish Karnad: An ‘Utsav’ of brilliance who was undisputed ‘Swami’ of Indian playwrights
Manthan: The film traces the origins of the movement through its fictionalised narrative, based around rural empowerment, when a young veterinary surgeon, played by Girish Karnad, a character based on the then National Dairy Development Board chief, the 33-year-old Verghese Kurien, who joined hands with local social worker, Tribhovandas Patel, which led to the setting up of a local milk cooperative, in Anand, Gujarat.
Girish Karnad: An ‘Utsav’ of brilliance who was undisputed ‘Swami’ of Indian playwrights
Swami: Another gem of Karnad’s restrained method acting, this 1977 movie was the onscreen adaption of Saratchandra Chattopadhaya’s novel of the same name. Karnad played the much older husband of chirpy, young Shabana Azami. The movie showed the interplay of emotions and the journey of both Karnad and Azami stuck in loveless marriage and how Azmi’s Mini starts falling in love with her bit boring husband. For millennials, it is the original, nuanced narrative of how wedding transform into a marriage a la Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Manmarziyan.
Girish Karnad: An ‘Utsav’ of brilliance who was undisputed ‘Swami’ of Indian playwrights
Nishant: Another brilliant collaboration between Shyam Benegal and Girish Karnad, this 1975 movie won the National Award that year. Instead of showing the hero, Nishant’s protagonist played by Karnad showed frustration and the fruitless rage. Portraying the role of a schoolteacher, who watches as his wife is abducted and raped by the landlords, Karnad’s anger caged within him showed the futility and hard-hitting reality.
Girish Karnad: An ‘Utsav’ of brilliance who was undisputed ‘Swami’ of Indian playwrights
Bhumika: Bhumika tells the life story of an actress, Usha (Smita Patil), who is the granddaughter of a famous female singer of the old tradition from the Devadasi community of Goa. Karnad was a part of the screenplay along with Shyam Benegal and Satyadev Dubey