Girish Karnad: A Great Playwright
Girish Karnad is an outstanding Indian English playwright. He is a man of versatile genius. His plays are universal in their appeal. He is a crusader against all those evils that are prevalent in the society. All his plays are based on history, myth and folktales of India. Karnad's plays are known for stageability too. The dramatic technique evolved by him is appreciated in the entire world of theatre.
Girish Karnad was born on May 19, 1938 in Matheran near Bombay. He had his early education in a small village of Karnataka named Sirsi. He completed his graduation from Karnataka University, Dharwad in 1958. After that he completed his post graduation from Magdalen College, Oxford. He came back to India in 1963. He joined Oxford University Press, Chennai. For his memorable contribution to drama he received several prestigious awards like Padm Sri, Padm Bhushan, Sahitya Academy Award and Gyanpith Award.
Basically Karnad belongs to the Kannad theatre. As a great playwright he has written many plays like Yayati, Tughlaq, Hayavadana, Bali, the Sacrifice, Naga-Mandala, The Fire and the Rain and The Dreams of Tipu Sultan. His two short monologues are Broken Images and Flowers. The plots of all these plays are based on legend, history, myth and folklore. Yayati and The Fire and the Rain are based on the Mahabharata. Tughlaqe and The Dreams of Tipu Sultan are based on Indian history. The plot of Hayavadana is based on Kathasaritsagar. Bali, the Sacrifice is based on the Yashodhara Charite. Naga-Mandala is a folk play. It is based on the oral tales from Karnataka.
As a playwright Karnad was highly influenced by Bharat Muni's Natyashastra. At the same time Brechtian technique of drama also influenced him. But as a dramatist Karnad is original. He does not copy any definite pattern. His plays depict the crisis of human identity and the complexity and duality of human character. His dramas analyse and interpret contemporary social problems. Selfhood, search for identity, isolation, alienation and frustration are the major themes of Karnad's plays. The undercurrent of existentialism can also be seen in those plays.
Plots in Karnad's plays are precise and well constructed. The devices like parallelism and contrast, suspense and surprise help in the logical development of the play. The events and incidents are organised into an artistic whole. Settings in Karnad's plays are in keeping with the plots.
The art of characterization of Karnad is also appreciable. His characters are well delineated. Those characters promote the unity of effect. In Karnad's plays both incident and situation are correlated with characters. The playwright observes economy, precision and realism in portraying his characters. He emphasises those qualities that are essential for the development of plot. All his characters have been portrayed with great psychological insight. The characters of Karnad speak language that suits to their temprament.
Karnad's English is lucid and simple. He has successfully moulded this language to express typical Indian ethos in his plays. He uses rich and apt words. His words are highly suggestive. His dialogues are crisp, precise and pointed. Karnad frequently uses symbols. In short Karnad's style is simple, straightforward and idiomatic.
Girish Karnad is a gifted dramatic craftsman. He is well versed with Indian stage techniques. All his plays are noticeable for consummate excellence of dramatic technique. All the plays by Karnad are actable. Karnad has used various theatrical devices for developing the plot and for creating the desired dramatic effect. In short, Karnad's dramatic technique is superb.
Thus Girish Karnad is a distinguished playwright. His plot, characters, setting, style and language contribute a lot to the creation of unity of effect in his plays.