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Navigating ‘The Fractured Self’ through Karnad’s works

DECCAN CHRONICLE.
Published Dec 1, 2019, 1:46 am IST
Updated Dec 1, 2019, 1:46 am IST
Ms Rao pointed out that Karnad always questioned the authenticity of a single truth. In Nagamandala, he dealt with a complexity of truth.
The late Girish Karnad
 The late Girish Karnad

Bengaluru: Playwright late Girish Karnad’s questions on the authenticity of truth, love and complexity of language were among the themes discussed at the session, ‘The Fractured Self’, at the 8th edition of Lekhana on Saturday.

With this edition’s theme being ‘Refracted Self’, a panel discussion was dedicated to understanding Karnad’s works, like Yayati, Nagamandala and Heap of broken Images.

 

“In Nagamandala, the playwright who couldn’t write is him,” said Ms Arshia Sattar, founder, The Sangam House. She said that Nagamandala marked a big transition in him which brought him back to theatre.

On his first work Yayati, Ms Sattar felt that he refracted himself in the critical material. But in Nagamandala, he seemed to be open about himself. Also, in his following works, he brought in his experiences and thoughts about linguistic nationalism and parochial identities.

She said, “While it is different to refract oneself as a playwright when compared to other literary genres, I was always stunned to see how open he was with respect to the presentation of his dilemmas on stage.”

On his understanding of love, Ms Padmavati Rao, an actress who had over four decades of association with Karnad, said, “Why does love have to sit on the lap of only one flower, questioned Girish Karnad.” On his approach towards patriotism, she said, “He firmly believed that the ones who sing the national anthem will lose their voice.”

Ms Deepa Ganesh, a senior journalist and writer, said, “Karnad has posed a complex question, is it love or is it desire? This has been consistently engaged in Nagamandala and Hayavadana. While dealing with love from women’s context, he was trying to subvert voices of patriarchy. He approached the subject of women in a humanistic way. This is a very 20th century thought.”

Ms Rao pointed out that Karnad always questioned the authenticity of a single truth. In Nagamandala, he dealt with a complexity of truth.

His spirit of being the renaissance man can also be associated to his approach towards language. Ms Sattar said, “Through his work Broken Images, he was responding to people who questioned his work as not being Kannada enough.”

Ms Ganesh said, “Karnad had an umbilical relationship with Kannada. His relationship with Kannada is very evident as his first work Yayati was in Kannada. It is unfortunate that despite his relationship with Kannada, the Kannada world responded to him and his work differently. Prominent personalities believe that Karnad’s work lacked Kannada flavour.”

Quoting Karnad, Ms Ganesh said, “We have to give up language to give up caste. Caste and language are so intricately connected that the moment one speaks, the caste could be identified. Don’t talk about caste, talk about profession, was his opinion.”

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