Girish Karnad passed away at his residence in Bengaluru on Monday morning. He was 81. Karnad wanted to become a poet in English, he found himself writing a play in Kannada while on the way to Oxford, where he was a Rhodes scholar. He was 26 when he wrote the path-breaking Tughlaq (1964), a play that successive generations of theatre personalities have used to examine the promise and disillusionments of Indian society.
Writing in Kannada, his plays used history, ancient myths and folklore to explore the fault lines of Indian society—and to shape post-Independence modernity influenced by ideas of secularism and constitutional morality. Karnad was awarded the Padma Shri in 1974 and the Padma Bhushan in 1992. He also received the Jnanpith Award, India’s highest literary prize in 1999 for his contributions to literature and theatre.