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Seminar on Karanth


Dr. Kota Shivarama Karanth is one of the most outstanding personalities in the literary and theatre world of India.  His interests have been vast and varied, he is a great novelist, innovative playwright, unique essayist, one man-mission-encyclopaedist, cultural anthropologist, art historian, lexicographer, popularizer of science and an environmentalist.  Besides honorary doctorates from several Indian Universities and fellowships from two national akademies - the Sahitya Akademi and the Sangeeth Natak Akademi, he received the prestigious Jnanapith award in 1978, Dadabhai Naoroji award and Tulsi Samman in 1990.  He has over 150 publications to his credit, both in Kannada and English.  His works have been widely translated into several Indian languages and filmed as well.

Dr. Karanth has made a singular contribution to the preservation, reformation and propagation of the great Indian theatrical art Yakshagana.  It has a recorded history of at least 600 years.

Dr. Karanth is the first person to take interest in the theoretical and practical aspects of Yakshagana.  He brought changes to the form and content of the art form, which did attract criticism.  This year is the birth centenary of Dr. Karanth and it is a good occasion to reappraise the contributions of Dr. Karanth to Yakshagana and his influence on it.  Discussions at the seminar revolved around 1. Karanth's contribution to Yakshagana music; 2. Karanth's contribution to Yakshagana Choreography; 3. Karanth's research on the time and works of Yakshagana composers and his Contribution to Yakshagana costumes; 4. Karanth's experiments in Yakshagana, their propagation and preservation: a reassessment; and  5. Evaluation of Karanth's Influence on the traditional theatre of Yakshagana.

Sri Keremane Shambhu Hegade, in his inaugural address, described Dr. Karanth as an amalgam of sharp logic, caustic criticism, burning emotion, regional bias, astounding ideas and immense passion.  He however, regretted that several other personalities who had richly contributed to the growth of Yakshagana are not remembered now.  Sri Haririshna Punaroor, Chairman Kannada Sahitya Parishad spoke about Dr. Karanth's innovations in Yakshagana.

In the academic session, Dr. Prabhakara Joshi, historian and Lexicographer said Dr. Karanth's innovation in the female costume in Yakshagana was an undisputable contribution though the same cannot be said about the male costume.  Vidwan A.P. Phatak discussed the contribution of Dr. Karanth to the body movements and space utilization in Yakshagana.  In this, he said Dr. Karanth had been influenced by the western ballets.  Shri Kumble Sundara Rao, a senior Yakshagana artist while acknowledging the "colossal" contribution of Dr. Karanth to the art form, accused him of regional bias against the southern (Karnataka) school.

Another Yakshagana artiste Keremane Mahabala Hegade highlighted the contribution of Dr. Karanth to the music in Yakshagana.  He said Dr. Karanth had identified and listed 80 classical ragas in the inherited Yakshagana music.  Shri K. Mohan said Dr. Karanth must be remembered for creating awareness about Yakshagana  at national and international levels.  He said the traditional Yakshagana  theatre was largely untouched by his innovations.  Prof. M.L. Samaga felt that Dr. Karanth's contributions to Yakshagana must be adopted only in the choreographic creativity.

Shri Sridhara Hande, in his Presidential remarks said the proof Dr. Karanth's contribution to Yakshagana lay in the fact that much enthusiasm was generated because of his innovations.  The day-long workshop wound up with the concluding speech by Shri. Veerappa Moily, former Chief Minister of Karnataka.  A Yakshagana presentation depicting the story of Jatayu Moksha was also staged.

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