Girish Karnad: "Rasa" in the English Fashion.

Abstract of the Lecture: Annasaheb Kirloskar is known to have launched the modern Marathi ‘musical’ theatre (sangeet natak). Since he was a Brahmin, and until the middle of the nineteenth century, secular entertainment was looked down upon as an occupation for ‘the lower castes’, Kirloskar’s choice of the play was clearly meant to declare his roots in the upper-caste - ‘classical’- Hindu tradition. Yet, Kirloskar states that his ambition was to create ‘Rasa in the English fashion’, a statement which has complex implications. Most important of all, colonial society considered the activity of professional theatre strictly ‘business’, moving it from the field of ritual or religious practice into the free market economy. Thus theatre, being inaccessible to him on the basis of his caste, now became accessible as ‘financial enterprise’. The form had, in effect, changed its status and its caste. This lecture will look at similar transformations which took place parallelly in other forms around the same time and revolutionized the very notion of ‘culture’ in India.

Girish Karnad is a playwright, actor and film director. He has served as Director, Film and Television Institute of India, Chairman, Sangeet Natak Akademi (the National Academy of the Performing Arts) and Director, the Nehru Centre, London. Apart from being performed in most Indian languages, his plays have been presented by the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis and the Haymarket Theatre, Leicester. He was awarded Doctor of Humane Letters (honoris causa) by the University of Southern California, LA, and the International Theatre Institute, UNESCO, Paris has nominated him World Theatre Ambassador. He has been honoured with the Padma Bhushan and the Bharatiya Jnanapitha award