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Friday, Sep 06, 2002

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Trust plans all round tribute to B.V. Karanth

Janaki Murali


THE Babukodi Prathistha Trust will take up various activities, in memory of well-known theatre personality, B.V. Karanth. This will include publishing his autobiography, organising theatre festivals and theatre workshops. An award will also be instituted in his name.

Says wife Prema Karanth, a playwright in her own right, that the basement of their home, which houses all his books and a collection of rare musical instruments would be made into a museum.

B.V. Karanth, who died here on September 1, at the age of 73, after battling prostate cancer for three years, has left a void in contemporary Indian theatre that will be difficult to fill. With several plays in many languages, national award-winning cinema, theatre workshops and music compositions to his credit, Karanth has left behind a body of work difficult to replicate by his followers. His theatrical genius grew to cult-like proportions and his experimentations with the idiom were much commended.

Music an essential part of his plays "were part of the dialogue and were like speech," says Prema Karanth. "The music in his plays was never separate from the theme and instead contributed to it," says Rameswari Varma, a theatre associate of Karanth's. "We never interfered with each other's work, although Karanth composed all the music for my plays and I did the costumes for his," says Prema Karnath. He even trained his dog to sing, which howled in tune to his harmonium notes.

Born at Babukodi in South Canara district of Karnataka in the late 1920s, the exact date being unknown, B.V. Karanth's career in theatre started at a very young age, with Gubbi Veeranna Professional Theatre Company of Karnataka. He then graduated from the National School of Drama and later became its director. He also founded two repertory theatre groups— the Bharat Bhavan, Rangmandal in Bhopal and Rangayana in Mysore.

Among his famous productions were "Oedipus", "Hayavadana" and "Panjara Shaale". He co-directed films like Vamsha Vriksha and Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane with Girirsh Karnad and his Chomana Dudi won the national best film of the year award in 1975. He won the national award for music for films Ririshya Shruga in 1977 and Ghatashradha in 1978.

He has composed music for his own productions and scored the music for 26 films by other directors. He was honoured with the Sangeet Natak Academy Award in 1976 and Padma Shri in 1981.

In addition to these honours, Karanth won the Kalidas Samman of the Government of Madhya Pradesh in 1996 and the Gubbi Veeranna award of the Government of Karnataka in 1997.

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