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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Tagore is 2nd rate playwright & Naipaul does not deserve Nobel - Girish Karnard speaks !!

In this great land, Bharat, there are great Scholars, Scientists, Achievers, Social workers, self-less people working for others and more……. there is also one class who are very popular by virtue of their celluloid image, who earn a lot, mostly stash their wealth, indulge in show off and consider themselves as intellectuals, trying to comment on everything simply because they garner the media glare. 

At a time, when Prabhu Deva had just established himself as a great dancer came the tamil film Kadhalan, written and directed by S Shankar with Prabhu Deva and Nagma in the lead. It was dubbed in Hindi as Humse Hai Muqabala and in Telugu as Premikudu.  The father of the heroine, who is a Governor -  Kakarla Sathyanaryanamoorthy  role was donned by Girish Karnad, who has done many roles with aplomb.

Girish Raghunath Karnad is a writer, playwright, screenwriter, actor and movie director in Kannada language. He is a recipient of the 1998 Jnanpith Award for Kannada,  and he often tries to portray his own self as a Secularist [read attacking and mocking Hindu traditions].  For decades, he has been composing plays, often using history and mythology to tackle contemporary issues.

Recently, Nobel laureate VS Naipaul was honoured with a Lifetime achievement award by Godrej.  Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad "V. S." Naipaul, a Trinidadian-British writer of Indo-Trinidadian heritage  is famous for his novels focusing on the legacy of the British Empire's colonialism. He has also written works of non-fiction, such as travel writing and essays.  In 2001, Naipaul was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He has been awarded numerous other literary prizes.

The organizers had invited Girish Karnad to conduct a one-hour masterclass on his life in theatre. He did nothing of the sort, and abused his hosts’ hospitality. He managed to convert the occasion into a theatre of the absurd and spent 40 minutes of his allotted time castigating VS Naipaul.  According to a report in Mint, Karnad claimed Naipaul would never have been given a Nobel but for 9/11, which made the West wary about Islam. Karnad blasted the organisers and said they shouldn’t have honoured Naipaul in the city which saw many Muslims killed in the post-Babri riots.  He boorishly called Naipaul a "stone deaf" and an "unreliable" writer of non-fiction as far as India was concerned.

Karnad was pulled up by the organisers for meandering off on his hobby horse. According to the Express, Festival Director Anil Dharker expressed his disappointment thus: “We gave you (Karnad) the chance to speak about your life in theatre, but you never spoke about it. Instead, you chose to go on about a writer who has won the Nobel Prize for literature.” Dharker justified the award to Naipaul saying it was for his entire body of work, and not just one or two books, which Karnad criticised. To writer Farrokh Dhondy, who asked Karnad a question, the latter haughtily refused a reply. An angry Dhondy is supposed to have replied: “This is like a court where the prosecution has been presenting its case without giving any opportunity to the defence.” The Times of India said Karnad didn’t talk on his given subject— life in theatre — since the subject was “boring”. One wonders why Karnad chose to accept the invitation in that case. Or was it just to demonstrate his boorishness? and who is he to decide whether the conferment of Nobel is right.

Well, they say that ‘those who dance and those who speak -  cannot stop’ - after his public criticism of VS Naipaul, writer-actor Girish Karnad has kicked up a fresh storm by calling Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore a “second-rate playwright”.  Talking to reporters near Nelamangala in the city’s outskirts, he said, “Tagore was a great poet but a mediocre and second-rate playwright. He produced his plays but those were never produced by his contemporaries. The contemporary Bengali theatre never accepted them. I think they did one or two plays. His comedy succeeded but not his other plays.”  he also haughtily, contended that Tagore did not understand poor characters because he came from the aristocracy.

Karnad’s comments have naturally angered the Bengali film and theatre world with Dadasaheb Phalke winning actor Soumitra Chatterji calling it “embarrassing”.  Most Indians do believe, Tagore  was ahead of his time. CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta also took exception to Karnad’s remarks.
Every now and then, card-carrying secularists have the need to wear their secularism on their sleeves. You may be called to officiate at a municipal tree planting ceremony, but you have to give the audience your robust views on the Ayodhya issue and Sufi music. – and Karnad manages to do that at Tata Literature festival and elsewhere………….. ignore him.

with regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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