Award Name : Jnanpith Award
Year of Award : 1998
Award for : Literature
Location : Mātherān, Maharashtra, India
Girish Raghunath Karnad is a contemporary writer, playwright, screenwriter, actor and movie director in Kannada language. He was born on 19 May 1938 in Matheran, British India. He earned his Bachelors of Arts degree in Mathematics and Statistics, from Karnatak Arts College, Dharwad (Karnataka University), in 1958. Upon graduation Karnad went to England and studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Lincoln and Magdalen colleges in Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar(1960–63), earning his Master of Arts degree in philosophy, political science and economics. After working with the Oxford University Press, Chennai for seven years (1963–70), he resigned to take to writing full-time. While in Madras (now known as Chennai) he got involved with local amateur theatre group, The Madras Players.
Karnad is most famous as a playwright. His plays, written in Kannada, have been widely translated into English and all major Indian languages. Karnad's plays are written neither in English, in which he dreamed of earning international literary fame, nor in his mother tongue Konkani. Instead they are composed in his adopted language Kannada. When Karnad started writing plays, Kannada literature was highly influenced by the renaissance in Western literature. Writers would choose a subject which looked entirely alien to manifestation of native soil. In a situation like that Karnad found a new approach like drawing historical and mythological sources to tackle contemporary themes. His first play, "Yayati" (1961), ridicules the ironies of life through characters in Mahabharata and became an instant success, immediately translated and staged in several other Indian languages. "Tughlaq" (1964), his best loved play, established Karnad as one of the most promising playwrights in the country. A large number of his kanada plays have been translated by Dr. Bhargavi P Rao. He is a recipient of the 1998 Jnanpith Award, a prestigious literary honour conferred in India. He is active in the world of Indian cinema working as an actor, director, and screenwriter, in Hindi and Kannada flicks, earning awards along the way. He was conferred Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan by the Government of India and won four Filmfare Awards where three are Filmfare Award for Best Director – Kannada and one Filmfare Best Screenplay Award.