Girish Karnad: Mathematics grad to literary colossus and secular hero

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"I was fortunate enough to work with him and the kind of experience he brought in on the sets was fantastic, he always had something new and more to add", Ali said. Tughlaq (1964), based on the 14th-century sultan Muḥammad bin Tughluq, made Karnad a name to reckon with among playwrights in the country.

Early success in theatre paved the way for films.

Karnad had made his acting as well as screenwriting debut with a 1970 Kannada movie Samskara. He was mostly chosen to play negative characters in most of his films and performed it with much aplomb.

Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala: "Litterateur par-excellence, actor, director, playwright and activist- the passing away of Girish Karnad shall leave an irreplaceable void in the Indian creative arena". When hundreds turned up at Karnad's house to pay homage, the family requested them to pay their last respects to him at the crematorium and declined to keep his body for public viewing outside. Dr Girish Karnad acted in only one Marathi movie Umbartha directed by Dr Jabbar Patel.

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He was popular on television as well, especially for playing a role in "Malgudi Days". Karnad was 81-years-old.

Katrina Kaif worked with Karnad in two films - the 2012 release Ek Tha Tiger and Karnad's last film Tiger Zinda Hai which released in 2017.

Karnad's contributions to theatre and cinema fetched him several accolades. In 1992, India's third-highest civilian honour, Padma Bhushan, was conferred on Karnad. For his plays, Karnad won the Sahitya Academy award in 1994 and the Jnanpith award in 1998.

He also bagged four Filmfare awards, including three for best director for Vamsha Vriksha in 1972, Kaadu in 1974 and Ondanondu Kaladalli in 1978 and one for best screenplay for Gadhuli in 1980 along with another noted Kannada film director BV Karanth.

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News of Karnad's death was met with fond tributes on Twitter.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal expressed sorrow as well.

Girish Karnad was born in Matheran, Maharashtra, on 19 May, 1938. "In his life, he embodied the richness and depth of Indian civilisation more nobly and less self-consciously than anyone else I knew".

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