Girish Karnad remembered: A proud ‘Urban Naxal’ who was on the top of the Hindutva Terror group’s Hit List

Political leaders, theatre personalities, social activists and the artistes from the entertainment sphere on Monday condoled the death of Girish Karnad, saying they will miss the brilliance of the iconic playwright-actor-director and his immense contribution to arts and culture.

Karnad, 81, died on Monday after prolonged illness at his Bengaluru residence. He was a progressive voice that championed the freedom of expression. He worked across industries – Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi and Marathi.

President Ram Nath Kovind called Karnad’s death an irreparable loss to the world of Indian theatre.

“Sad to hear of the passing of Girish Karnad, writer, actor and doyen of Indian theatre. Our cultural world is poorer today. My condolences to his family and to the many who followed his work #PresidentKovind,” the tweet by the president read.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised Karnad for speaking up about causes dear to him.

“Girish Karnad will be remembered for his versatile acting across all mediums. He also spoke passionately on causes dear to him. His works will continue being popular in the years to come. Saddened by his demise. May his soul rest in peace,” the tweet by the PM read.

Politician and CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury also condoled Karnad’s death.

“Heartfelt condolences on passing away of one of modern India’s treasures, Girish Karnad. A writer, dramatist, director and actor par exellence. He stood out for his commitment to social upliftment, equality and secularism. It is a huge personal loss too,” Yechury tweeted.

South star-turned-politician Kamal Haasan lauded the rich legacy of the veteran writer and director.

“Mr Girish Karnad, His scripts both awe and inspire me. He has left behind many inspired fans who are writers. Their works perhaps will make his loss partly bearable,” Haasan tweeted.

Actor Sonam Kapoor wrote on Twitter, “Rest in peace. I loved his work.”

The influence of Karnad’s work was massive and spread across a generation of artistes from veteran star Kamal Haasan to the younger, Bollywood actor Ali Fazal said.

“One of my first big production at the Doon School, was #GirishKarnad’s ‘Hayavadana’. A masterpiece that I got to perform. I remember it so vividly. An extraordinary man. He will be remembered for his unique sense of style and persona. In writing in acting and in life,” Fazal wrote on Twitter.

Journalist Smita Prakash also took to twitter and wrote.

“What will you remember #GirishKarnad for? For me Vamsha Vriksha, Ananda Bhairavi, Samskara, Nishant, Swami, Malgudi Days, Manpasand. What a huge body of work. Om Shanti 🙏,” she tweeted.

Academic Ashok Swain tweeted, “RIP #GirishKarnad – A proud ‘Urban Naxal’ & was on the top of the Hindutva Terror group’s Hit List!.”

Karnad started off his career in cinema as an actor but he is also known as a brilliant writer and free thinker.

Karnad was one of the most prominent artistic voices of his generation.

He was an eminent playwright with works such as “Nag-Mandala”, “Yayati” and “Tughlaq”, which was one of the most successfully performed plays, to his credit.

He also worked in Hindi cinema’s parallel film movement in movies such as “Swami”, and “Nishant”.

His TV credits include “Malgudi Days” in which he played Swami’s father and a hosting stint in the science magazine “Turning Point” on Doordarshan in the early 1990s.

In later years, Karnad was seen in commercial films such as Salman Khan’s “Tiger Zinda Hai” and Ajay Devgn-starrer “Shivaay”.

Karnad was among the most vocal critics of hardline Hindutva and therefore he was top on the hit list.

The SIT probing journalist- activist Gauri Lankesh’s killing had stumbled upon a diary with a ‘hit-list’ which had the name of Girish Karnad on top. According to police reports assassins of Gauri Lankesh wanted to kill Karnad first.

He had in a protest called himself an urban naxal and worn a placard around his neck to express his solidarity with slain rationalists like Gauri Lankesh and others.

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