Girish Karnad

Girish Karnad was born in Matheran, Maharashtra and graduated in mathematics and statistics from Karnataka University, Dharwad. He earned Rhodes scholarship and later became the President of Oxford Union Society. He wrote his first play Yayati while in England. He became well known as a playwright with well acclaimed plays like Tughlaq and Hayavadana in his credit. He joined films as a scenarist and lead actor for Samskara. His directorial debut was with Vamsha Vriksha, along with B V Karanth and later moved to Hindi films to work with Syam Benegal for his films Nishant, Manthan and Kalyug.

Selected Filmography:

Kaadu - 1973 - Kannada
(The Forest)

Kaadu is a violent rural drama about rivalry between to villages as seen through the eyes of a young boy, Kitti. The boy, who is staying with his uncle Chandre Gowda and aunt Kamali, notices his uncle's secret visit to his mistress in the next village. This affair escalates into a larger confrontation between Chandra Gowda and his rival Shivaganga, which eventually leads to violence, the death of aunt Kamali and the arrival of police. The boy cannot distinguish the specifically man-made violence that surrounds him from the more primeval threats presented by the dense forest which, according to legend, contains a killer bird that calls out its victims by name. In a fantasy ending, the boy imagines the bird calling him and he follows the call, ignoring the frantic voices of his parents who want to take him home.

Direction & Screenplay: Girish Karnad
Cast: Amrish Puri, Nandini, Lokesh, G K Govinda Rao
Cinematography: Govind Nihalani
Music: B V Karanth

Cheluvi - 1992 - Kannada
(The Flowering Tree)

Cheluvi is based on a Karnataka folk-tale. A young woman, Cheluvi, living in abject poverty with her mother and sister, can turn herself into a tree yielding an endless supply of blossoms as long as they are picked very carefully. Kumar, the son of the village headman, seduced by the scent of the flowers, marries Caheluvi and they enjoy her flowering in strict privacy. During Kumar's absence, the headman's younger daughter Shyama forces Cheluvi to disclose her secret. Unable to comprehend the delicacy and beauty of the event, the children destroy the tree, leaving Cheluvi's body a mutilated tree-stump.

Direction & Screenplay: Girish Karnad
Cast: Sonali Kulkarni, Gargi Yakkundi, Prashant Rao, Geetanjali Kirloskar, Girish Karnad
Cinematography: Rajiv Menon
Music: Bhaskar Chandavarkar


  • Kaadu (1973)
  • Ondanondu Kaladalli (1978)
  • Utsav (1984)
  • Cheluvi (1992)
  • Kanuru Heggadathi

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