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Girish Karnad Career & Biography | Age, Height, Movies, More

Girish Karnad is an Indian film actor, director, writer and a Rhodes Scholar, born on 19 May, 1938 in Matheran, India. He predominantly works in the Kannada Film Industry and Bollywood. He is well known for his works in “Iqbal” (2005), “ Ek Tha Tiger” (2012), “Hey Ram” (2000) and “24” (2016). He has received the Jnanpith Award for Kannada, which is the highest literary honor in India.


Name               : Girish Karnad

Birth Name     : Girish Raghunath Karnad

Born                : 19 May, 1938

Birth Place      : Matheran, India

Occupation      : Actor, Director, Writer

Nationality      : Indian

Religion           : Hinduism

Spouse             : Saraswathy Ganapathy

Early Life:

Girish Karnad completed his primary education in Marathi. He was an ardent admirer of Yakshagana and the theater in his village, from his young age. In 1958, he completed his graduation in Arts from Karnataka University in Dharwad. After graduation, Girish moved to England and studied in Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar at Lincoln and Magdalen colleges in 1963 and earned his Master of Arts degree in political science, philosophy and economics.


Girish Karnad worked with the Oxford University press from 1963 to 1970. Then he got involved in the local amateur theatre group The Madras Players in Chennai. During 1987 to 1988, he worked as a Visiting Professor and Fulbright Scholar at the University of Chicago. He also served on the Film and Television Institute of India as director in 1974, the Sangeet Natak Akademi as chairman and the National Academy of the Performing Arts in 1988.


Girish Karnad is famous as a playwright and his plays have been widely translated into English and all major Indian languages. When Kannada literature was highly influenced by the Renaissance in Western literature, he started writing plays. In this situation, Girish found a new approach to tackle contemporary themes, such as drawing historical and mythological sources. He made his first play titled “Yayati” in 1961, which ridicules the ironies of life by the characters of Mahabharata. The play became an instant success and translated in several other Indian languages. His next play was “Tughlaq” in 1964, which established him as one of the most popular playwrights in the country. Most of his Kanada language plays have been translated by Dr. Bhargavi P Rao.


Girish Karnad made his first appearance with the film “Samskara” directed by Pattabhirama Reddy in 1970 which received the first President’s Golden Lotus Award for Kannada Film. He made his directorial debut with the Kannada film “VamshaVruksh” in 1971. The film earned several national and international awards. Later, he has acted and directed many films in Kannada and Hindi language, including –

  • Samskara (1970)
  • Vamsha Vriksha (Director) (1971)
  • Kadu (Director) (1973)
  • Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane (Director) (1977)
  • Godhuli (Director) (1977)
  • Ondanondu Kaaladalli (Director) (1978)
  • Aasha (1980)
  • Cheluvi (Director) (1992)
  • Minsaara Kanavu (1997)
  • Pukar (2000)
  • Hey Ram (2000)
  • Shankar Dada MBBS (2004)
  • Ek Tha Tiger (2012)
  • 24 (2016)
  • Shivaay (2016)
  • Tiger Zinda Hai (Filming) (2017)

Other Works:

Karnad has played the role of Karadi, the narrator in the popular audio book series for kids “Karadi Tales”.  He has also been the voice of APJ Abdul Kalam, President of India, in the audio book of Kalam’s autobiography. Girish Karnad was conferred Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri by the government of India.

Girish Karnad

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Girish Karnad
Job Title
film actor, director, writer and a Rhodes Scholar

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