Mumbai, June 10 (IANS) His smile, simplicity, fearlessness, creative energy and intellect are what the Indian film fraternity recounted as the news of veteran playwright, screenwriter, actor and director Girish Karnad’s death broke on Monday morning, with a pall of gloom descending on the industry.
“I will never forget the smile! So simple, pure and warm,” actor Shreyas Talpade, who worked with him in “Iqbal” and “Dor”, told IANS.
“Working with him in my very first film was more than a great honour. He was always helpful, caring, supportive and encouraging. His immense contribution to the industry as a writer, director and an actor will never be forgotten,” he added of the multi-talented icon, whose career spanned six decades, myriad mediums and languages.
Karnad died at his residence in Bengaluru on Monday morning. He was 81. The veteran artiste is survived by his son Raghu, a writer and journalist.
Actor-director Prabhudheva told IANS: “It’s very sad. He was such a nice and talented person. I did one film (‘Kadhalan’) with him.”
National Award-winning actress Divya Dutta, who featured with Karnad in “Chalk n Duster”, told IANS: “He was one actor whose inherent goodness reflected in his eyes. A perfect gentleman! I have met him and exchanged pleasantries a few times and seen plays written by him. My childhood is full of memories of his movies… ‘Swami’, ‘Ratnadeep’ and ‘Manthan’. RIP to another legend from that magical generation.”
Filmmaker Ali Abbas Zafar, who directed Karnad in “Tiger Zinda Hai” and “Ek Tha Tiger”, can’t forget his “great experience” of working with the actor.
“He was such a gentleman and such a knowledgeable soul. It is not only the film fraternity that will miss him, but the entire nation. He was a writer, a theatre actor, he used to direct plays, write plays and direct films. The kind of talent that he possessed was phenomenal. He was a great human being and a great person to have conversation with.
“I had a fabulous time working with him in ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’. He was one of those people who could very nicely and easily tell you what they think is right and wrong. My relationship with him was like a professor and student. I am deeply saddened by his demise,” Zafar said in a statement.
Kannada actor Srinath, whose late brother C.R. Simha was very close to Karnad and worked in the playwright’s drama “Tughlaq”, also paid a tribute.
“After seeing his performance, Girish Karnad said, ‘My Tughlaq is alive because of Simha’. And that’s how close he was to him. We met several times. I have great respect for him. He wrote wonderful things. He was a straightforward person.”
Karnad’s vast experience saw him collaborate with actors and technicians across generations. His close friend Shabana Azmi, with whom he worked in “Swami”, “Nishant” and “Manthan”, among others, urged the media to allow her privacy to mourn Karnad’s demise.
“It has been a friendship of 43 years,” she tweeted on an emotional note.
Actor Kamal Haasan said Karnad’s scripts left him in “awe” and inspired him.
“He has left behind many inspired fans who are writers. Their works perhaps will make his loss partly bearable,” he tweeted.
Anupam Kher described Karnad as a “great artiste, scholar and a brilliant playwright”.
“My first small appearance in the film ‘Utsav’ was under his direction. Also acted in both ‘Tughlaq’ and ‘Hayavadan’, plays written by him,” tweeted Anupam.
With his plays, Karnad used his creativity in merging folk and historic references to modernism, capturing India’s cultural, social and economic changes since gaining independence.
Paying tribute to his legacy in the theatre world, filmmaker Sudhir Mishra wrote: “This was Girish Karnad. Along with Vijay Tendulkar, Badal Sarkar and Mohan Rakesh, he was one of the great Indian playwrights. Just for his contribution to theatre, he is immortal. Generations of theatre students have been formed because of his plays.”
Actor Kabir Bedi recounted: “My biggest break in theatre was playing the title role in his ‘Tughlaq’, directed by Alyque Padamsee, which led me into the film industry in 1970s. One of India’s great playwrights, immortalised by his creativity.”
Manoj Bajpayee, Madhur Bhandarkar, Sonam K. Ahuja, Gulshan Devaiah, Prosenjit Chatterjee, Rana Daggubati, Shruti Haasan, Vivek Agnihotri, Papon were among a slew of celebrities who mourned his demise.
As Agnihotri put it, “Artistes go but the art remains.”