Girish Karnad death: Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy has declared three-day state mourning in the state after veteran actor and playwright breathed his last after prolonged illness at the age of 81 in Bengaluru. The chief minister has also announced one-day public holiday in the state. Karnad is survived by his wife Saraswathy Ganapathy and children Raghu Amay and Shalmali Radha Karnad.

Offering condolences to the Jnanpith award-winner, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said Girish Karnad will be remembered for his versatile acting across all mediums and his works will continue being popular in the years to come. President Ram Nath Kovind CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also offered condolences to Karnad.

Karnad was born on May 19, 1938, in Matheran in Mumbai (then Bombay Presidency). Throughout his life, he was a proponent of multiculturalism and freedom of expression and a vocal critic of religious fundamentalism and Hindutva promoted by the RSS, BJP and other Hindutva organisations. In 1992, he openly condemned the demolition of Babri Masjid and opposed Narendra Modi’s candidature for the Prime Minister’s post in 2014. The noted playwright-actor was known for his fearless political voice and many of his plays stirred debate for raising voice against majoritarianism and excesses of the state.

Karnad, who was an ardent admirer of Yakshagana and the theatre during childhood, earned his Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in mathematics and statistics from Karnatak Arts College, Dharwad (Karnataka University), in 1958. After the successful completion of graduation, Karnad went to England and studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Magdalen in Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar (1960–63). He earned his Master of Arts (MA) degree in philosophy, political science and economics at Magdalen in Oxford. He was also elected as the president of the Oxford Union in 1963.

Karnad had made his acting and screenwriting debut in Kannada movie Samskara in 1970. He was active in both Kannada and Hindi cinema. Karnad had directed popular Kannada movies like Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane, Cheluvi, Kanooru Heggadithi and wrote Ondanondu Kaladalli and Kaadu. Kaadu, violent rural drama about the rivalry between two villages, was Karnad’s first solo direction. His popular Hindi movies include Nishaant, Manthan, Swami and Pukar

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