Published: 10th June 2019
Girish Karnad was the force behind the Dharwad literature festival, it was one of the several ways he honoured his roots
Shahsidhar Narendra was one of the people who accompanied Karnad to the Jaipur Literature Festival, which is where the idea for the Dharwad Sahitya Sambhrama took birth remembers him
Everyone remembers Girish Karnad for his work in literature and theatre. But did you know that he was the brain behind the famous annual literature festival 'Dharwad Sahitya Sambhrama' Despite going to Oxford, acting in movies across the country from Hindi blockbusters to Shyam Benegal to Tamil and directing award-winning films in Kannada, Karnad never lost touch with Dharwad. His home in his younger years.
Shashidhar Narendra, who works as a Senior Announcer in the All India Radio Station in Dharwad was one of the people who accompanied Karnad to the Jaipur Literature Festival. It was here that the idea of the Dharwad Sahitya Sambharama took birth. "I became closely associated with him in the last ten years, we worked on a few plays and programmes conducted by the Manohara Grantha Mala in Dharwad. In 2012, I along with a few others accompanied him to Jaipur," he recalled.
The first Dharwad Sahitya Sambhrama was held in 2013, "Karnad was the driving force behind its success. From then we have been organising the event successfully," he said.
Sweet memory: Girish Karnad and a few other eminent Kannada authors in Dharwad
Shashidhar once also directed a Girish Karnad play called 'Benda Kallu on Toast' and Karnad had also seen the show a few times. "The play took place for the first time in Dharwad's Kalabhavan and soon after that, he treated us for enacting his play. Such a simple man he was. Whenever he watched the play he would give me the option of making changes. Even when he edited some portions in his book, he would email me the changes and suggest that I incorporate it in the play," Shashidhar recalls.
Shahshidhar also recalled a similar experience with the play 'Hittina Hunja' aka 'Bali', "Whenever the book was reprinted, the changes we discussed would appear. He was very open-minded to feedback and always wanted to improve and learn. The same goes for the other plays like 'Hayavadana' and 'Taledanda'," he recalls.
Even though he was 30 years younger than Karnad, Shahsidhar remembers that he always treated him like an equal. "Girish's parents were also great people. Even Mahatma Gandhi visited his home in Dharwad during the freedom movement. Now the house is still the same and our sweet memories spent with him lingers around. It had these huge pillars, beautiful portico and a wooden swing in the veranda. That's the place where he usually sat and wrote."