A podcast collection remembers Girish Karnad

In June 2019, a couple days in advance of his dying, playwright, actor, movie director, author, and activist Girish Karnad spoke to author and translator Arshia Sattar about his get the job done, his lifestyle, and the worries that had occupied him about virtually sixty several years as a community mental.

Bangalore Worldwide Centre’s BIC Talks podcast collection, The River Has No Worry of Recollections, distills people freewheeling discussions into a “short intellectual biography” to celebrate the existence and get the job done of a single of India’s finest playwrights and thinkers.

Arshia Sattar – the co-host of the podcast, together with Anmol Tikoo – and writer and playwright Vivek Shanbhag (who seems in episodes two and three) discuss to Scroll.in about the collection and recollections of Girish Karnad.

At the time of publication, 4 episodes of the collection had been unveiled. Excerpts from the discussion:

Why is the podcast titled The River Has No Concern of Recollections?
Arshia Sattar (AS): That is the title of a track from Girish Karnad’s play Hayavadana. It was established to audio by BV Karanth, a person of Girish’s most crucial theatre collaborators. And it’s just one of the most popular array geethe (theatre songs) in Kannada. Moreover, we imagined that because this was a podcast about memories – us remembering Girish and Girish searching back on his lifetime – this would be an correct title.

The podcast has been described as a “short intellectual biography” of Girish Karnad – apart from introducing Girish’s performs to new viewers, what else does the podcast hope to achieve?
AS: I really do not assume we set out to accomplish anything in the content feeling. The series is a way to share the thoughts of a single of our important writers, intellectuals and activists, a prospect to hear to how he assumed about his individual existence and work and his achievements and failures. We had been lucky adequate to speak with him in that last 7 days of his existence – extra individuals should really have a possibility to listen to what he reported.

You pointed out how Girish Karnad would usually revise his engage in Anju Mallige even following fifty a long time of producing it. In truth, he was also open to some others recommending edits. Why do you feel he was obsessed with the perform?
AS: I assume since he understood that he experienced got it wrong and it bothered him. He truly was a perfectionist in that regard. He labored on The Fireplace and the Rain for 30 yrs, he suggests, due to the fact what he had simply just did not really feel ideal to him. He was also not at all joyful with Bali.

Girish Karnad | Picture credit: Monica Kulkarni

Why did it take Girish Karnad so prolonged to produce a present-day enjoy (for example, Maduve Album) established in India?
Vivek Shanbhag (VS): Girish Karnad dedicated his enjoy Maduve Album to [Kannada playwright] GB Joshi. In the perseverance he states that Joshi usually informed him that he would grow to be a correct playwright only when he wrote a modern participate in.

So when he wrote Anju Mallige, Girish tells Joshi that he has composed a modern day participate in and he’s at last a correct playwright. At this stage, Joshi disagrees and remarks that Anju Mallige is established in England and he wants to produce something that is set in India. This is why he focused Maduve Album to Joshi – nevertheless unfortunately Joshi had previously handed away by then.

Girish and I would have conversations about this, and I used to notify him that the cause he could not place his plays right here is that he was away from Karnataka for a extended time. He, of course, did not agree with me!

What counts is the modern sensibility, and not actually the location of the perform. The moment you generate a modern day participate in and give a name to a character, you have to manage almost everything that comes with it – caste, course, and this sort of factors. I often challenged him on these grounds and we had a variation of view on this.

“If I had composed as I think, then my template would have been Marathi. Then Konkani.” Nevertheless, Girish Karnad wrote typically in Kannada. In what techniques do you believe his profound knowing of languages and cultures resonated with his viewers?
VS: Kannada has a broad and diverse assortment of folk and classical theatre sorts, such as Yakshagana. The audience is made use of to this sort of diversity and they enjoy it. In his autobiography, Girish writes about the influence of Yakshagana, Natya Sangeet, as effectively as Marathi theatre in his formative decades.

In truth, no other playwright has utilised Kannada like him. Tughlaq, Hayavadana, Maduve Album, Taledanda – each and every enjoy takes advantage of a unique and distinctive Kannada. In his films also, let’s say, Kaadu (1973) which is established in Mysuru, the characters speak in the Alanahalli dialect. In the same way, Ondanondu Kaladalli (1978) is set in North Karnataka and he utilised that language.

In an essay, Girish writes about his Kannada, and has thorough how he ended up applying variants of the language. He also speaks about this in the podcast. What I indicate to say is, he has generally decided on the variety of Kannada which he felt was most proper to the environment of the play or the film.

Language is very essential in theatre, and you just cannot mess it up. Girish had this selection and I really a great deal appreciated his use of distinct languages. You could not discover any gaps in the way he employed Kannada.

His mother tongue was Konkani but he wrote in Kannada. Kannada is the language of the streets in Karnataka and literature also came to him in this language. He could finest convey the concept of his writings in Kannada. When you use a uncovered language, you sense no inhibitions and you use the language as you assume is correct. Girish did that very perfectly.

Girish Karnad and Shabana Azmi in the 1975 film “Nishant” | Image credit: Shemaroo

As a reader (and member of the viewers), how do you believe Girish Karnad remodeled Kannada theatre?
VS: The new era of Kannada theatre started in the late 1960s and early 1970s. During this time, there have been 3 well known playwrights – Girish Karnad, Chandrashekhara Kambar, and P Lankesh – and and one director, BV Karanth.

These men and women alongside one another remodeled Kannada theatre. Among the them, Karnad has experimented broadly, unlike any individual else. Tughlaq redefined the craft and its depth. There’s no other engage in in Kannada that can match Tughlaq. Karnad supplied a contemporary construction to Kannada performs. This is also the time when the Navya Movement [Kannada Modernist Movement] was at its peak – poetry and prose materialised in theatre as a result of Karnad. This was an ecosystem the place the viewers was receptive to these adjustments.

His plays experienced the form of sophistication, modernity, and intellectual depth that was essential to catch the attention of the youthful, educated, center-course to theatres. Karanth directed Hayavadana, and Karnad and Karanth would go to do lots of films and plays collectively. In Hayavadana, Karanth and Karnad gave condition to the new music and dance that were by now close to us, to uncover a position in modern day theatre. It is still tough to prevail over the triumphs of this duo and Hayavadana was just the commencing!

Which of Girish Karnad’s roles (playwright, actor, film director, writer, activist) is his most lasting legacy?
AS: Is dependent who you are and how you see him. Girish was numerous factors to quite a few men and women – theatre people will maintain his performs as his legacy, he’s also a huge part of Kannada literature simply because he wrote a number of extremely crucial vital essays. Several men and women don’t forget him for his function in Swami. A younger technology will bear in mind Ek Tha Tiger.

A lot of activists are not all that intrigued in his plays, but they care quite considerably that he came out and stood with them in so numerous protests. Girish’s legacy is huge and different – that is why this podcast series experienced to be designed.

The collection is also readily available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and other platforms.