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‘Crown jewel’ of art lost: India mourns passing of playwright & filmmaker Girish Karnad

‘Crown jewel’ of art lost: India mourns passing of playwright & filmmaker Girish Karnad
Revered Indian playwright, filmmaker, and ‘Indian Oscars’ winner Girish Karnad has passed away at 81, sparking an outpouring of condolences and praise from leading politicians and ordinary people alike.

Girish Karnad passed away in his home in Bangalore on Monday morning. Sources close to his family told local media that he died from multiple organ failure.

Politicians, public figures, and others offered condolences on social media, praising the revered playwright and actor as one of the “crown jewels” of art and literature.

Karnad will be remembered for “his versatile acting across all mediums,” and his work “will continue to be popular in the years to come,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.

Former Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said Karnad’s passing is “a huge loss to the art world.”

India “has lost a beloved son, whose memory will live on in the vast treasure trove of creative work he leaves behind,” the leader of the chief opposition party, the Indian National Congress (INC), Rahul Gandhi, said. The southern state of Karnataka, where Karnad lived prior to his death, declared that this Monday will be a public holiday in his honor.

Born in 1938, Girish Karnad was a popular and influential playwright, writing stories in the Kannada language, which is spoken in southern India. His work was often inspired by Indian history and mythology. At the same time, Karnad was an outspoken critic of religious fundamentalism.

His acting debut came in 1970, when Karnad starred in the film Samskara (Funeral Rites), the script of which he co-wrote. The movie was initially banned due to its strong anti-caste message, but later released to widespread acclaim. Karnad went on to have a prolific career in Bollywood, winning many honors, including four Filmfare Awards, often referred to as ‘Indian Oscars’.

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