Girish Karnad is one of the most influential playwrights of our time and his plays have become a byword for imagination, innovation and craftsmanship. He has been honoured with the Padma Bhushan and was conferred the prestigious Jnanapith Award. He also received the Sahitya Akademi Award. Girish Karnad wanted to be a poet, but he was destined to be a playwright. Basically Karnad belong to the Kannada theatre. Since 1980s, there has been considerable work done in the field of drama. And especially with the emergence of dramatist like Girish Karnad, Vijay Tendulkar, Mohan Rakesh, Badal Sarkar and a few more on the scene, dramas written in English in India have started ...view middle of the document...
Karnad’s interpretation of the old myth on the exchange of ages between father and son puzzled and angered conventional critics, but the enlightened readers and critics appreciated it for its modernity. It was originally written in Kannada and now it has been translated into English.
It is the second play of Girish Karnad and published in 1972. It was also originally written in his mother tongue, Kannada and later on it was translated into English by himself only. In fact, this play is sufficient to earn for Girish Karnad an assured place among the Indo-Anglian dramatists. It is the play about the life and political career of Sultan Muhammad-Bin-Tughlaq of the 14th century India. Karnad deviates from history when it is essential to create artistic and a dramatic effect. Karnad’s main aim is to highlight the contradictions in Sultan’s complex personality, who is both visionary and man of action, devout and irreligious, generous and unkind, human and barbarian. Tughlaq’s close associates-Barni, the scholarly historian, and Najib, the practical politician, represent two aspects of Tughlaq’s personality. Aziz and Azam are two opportunists who take the best possible advantage of Tughlaq’s ideal politics and befool him. Tughlaq has contemporaneity. It reflects as no other play, perhaps does the political mood of disillusionment which followed the Nehru era of idealism in the country. This play is noticeable for consummate and flawless technique, precision and compactness, irony and paradox and symbolism and modernity. The Tughlaq’s character has been delineated with psychological depth and intensity. It has been translated into many languages.
Hayavadana is the third successful and brilliant drama of Girish Karnad written in 1975. It is a memorable treatment of the theme of search for completeness. The main plot of the play is a judicious blend of a folktale from Somadeva’s Kathasaristgara and Thomas Mann’s long short story The Transposed Head. The subplot of the play ‘Hayavadana’, the Horse-Headman, is Karnad’s own invention. It serves both as prologue and epilogue of the play. Devadatta, a scholarly young man and Kapila, a sturdy man are intimate friends. Kapila acts as an intermediary and helps Devadatta in marring Padmini. After marriage, Padmini is drawn to Kapila, which becomes explicit during their trip to the Ujjain fair. Unable to bear this, Devadatta cuts off his head. Kapila shocked, also dies in the same manner. Goddess Kali grants Padmini’s prayer to get back the two men. In her excitement, Padmini transpose the two heads. So she now has a man with Devadatta’s head and Kapila’s body and another man with Kapila’s head and Devadatta’s body. Padmini chooses to live with the man who is carrying Devadatta’s head. After a short time she goes to the other man with Kapila’s head. The two men fight and kill each other. Padmini commits ‘Sati’, leaving her son to be taken care of by Devadatta’s...