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Jnanpith awardee, veteran playwright-actor Girish Karnad passes away

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Bengaluru, June 10: Jnanpith awardee, veteran actor and playwright Girish Karnad has passed away on Monday. He was 81.

Karnad succumbed to a prolonged illness at his residence in Vittal Mallya Road, Bengaluru at 6.30 am, according to his family.

Girish Karnad

The Karnataka government declared a holiday on Monday in light of Karnad's passing and announced state mourning for a period of three days.

His last rites will be held at Kalpalli crematorium in Bengaluru. As per his wishes, the family has decided not to follow any religious ceremonies and accept state honours during funeral.

The family has also requested his fans and dignitaries who want to pay last respects to directly come to crematorium as they want it to keep it private.

Karnad's last wish was there should be no funeral procession and no VIP should visit or be part of it.

A multifaceted personality, Karnad has acted in several plays and movies that have received critical acclamation.

Karnad often using history and mythology to tackle contemporary issues, had his works translated into various Indian languages and helmed by directors like Ebrahim Alkazi, B V Karanth and Alyque Padamsee among others.

He wrote his first play, the critically acclaimed Yayati (1961), while still at Oxford. Centred on the story of a mythological king, the play established Karnad's use of the themes of history and mythology. Karnad's next play, Tughlaq (1964), tells the story of the 14th-century sultan Muḥammad bin Tughluq and remains among the best known of his works.

In 1992 the Indian government awarded Karnad another of its highest honours, the Padma Bhushan, in recognition of his contributions to the arts. He was the recipient of the Jnanpith Award, India's highest literary prize, in 1999 for his contributions to literature and theatre. He continued to work in film, directing such movies as Kanooru Heggadithi (1999) and acting in Iqbal (2005) and Life Goes On (2009), among others.

President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday condoled the demise of veteran playwright and actor Girish Karnad, saying he will be remembered for his work for years to come.

Born in 1938 in Maharashtra, Karnad received his initial education in Marathi and graduated from Karnataka University in Mathematics and Statistics. He did his MA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes scholar.

He is survived by his wife Saraswathi, son Raghu Karnad, a journalist and writer and daughter Radha, a doctor based in Kenya.

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