BANGALORE : A couple of days after Girish Karnad allegedly called U R Ananthamurthy's works 'second-rate', the playwright said he felt privileged to have fought alongside the late writer. Karnad also reiterated how, prior to the recent Lok Sabha elections, he and Ananthamurthy spoke out against Modi. "Everyone remembers how Ananthamurthy said he would leave the country if Modi came to power.'"
He also clarified that though a particular publication had claimed that he had called Ananthamurthy a 'critical outsider,' it was far from the truth. He added, "I did not say that. That was one thing that he wasn't...an outsider. He was an insider, he fought like an insider, and I fought with him like an insider."
He also articulated that he was happy to have had the privilege of knowing people who stood up for values they believed in.
He added, "Fortunately, in Karnataka, a movement was started by Gopala Gowda, and we also had Shivaram Karanth, Kuvempu, Lankesh, Ananthamurthy, Maralu Siddappa . They all fought, among each other too, but more importantly together (for issues they believed in)."
During a talk at BLF about his life and works, moderated by Arshia Sattar, he recalled how P Lankesh, first a professor, started Lankesh Patrike which revolutionised public discussion and made it more inclusive and lively.
"Before that, if there was an issue among Lingayats, Hindus would keep out of it, if there was an issue with Hindus, Christians would stay out of it. Lankesh was like a steamroller, he said that issues alone matter," he declared.
In a more candid moment, Karnad shared how his guru, writer A K Ramanujan, once told him that he translates others' works because he was jealous of their writings and wanted to possess them.
"When I read Ananthamurthy's Samskara, I wanted to possess it. I thought, who is this Ananthamurthy to have written it? I should have written it," And later he was able to a be part of the film, and that too was an attempt to grasp the monumental work, he shared.
After the session was thrown open to audience, he was asked if any of his future writings would point the younger generation towards a direction.
He responded, "I think it's most important for an artist to be sincere to himself. Becoming a leader of a country is a very dangerous occupation."
He also quoted Ananthamurthy, saying that a public figure builds an image outside and internalises it.
"After he became the chairman of the Sangeet Natak Akademy and won the Jnanpith award, it just killed his writing," opined Karnad.
However, after Samskara, he did write a great short story, Suryana Kudura translated as Stallion of the Sun, Karnad allowed.
"And it's great that he didn't freeze, he developed ideas. And it worries me that it might happen to me too, and if it does, I wonder if I would continue to write or think best to leave my audience alone," Karnad added.