Themes and Techniques in the Plays of Girish Karnad

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Girish Karnad is one of the most influential playwrights of our time and his plays have become a byword for imagination, innovation and craftsmanship. He has been honoured with the Padma Bhushan and was conferred the prestigious Jnanapith Award. He also received Sahitya Akademi Award. Girish Karnad wanted to be a poet, but he was destined to be a playwright. Basically Karnad belong to the Rannade theatre. Since 1980s, there has been considerable work done in the field of drama. And especially with the emergence of dramatist like Girish Karnad, Vijay Tendulkar, Mohan Rakesh, Badal Sarkar and a few more on the scene, dramas written in English in India have started attracting international importance. This article contains view on the thematic and technical aspects in the plays of Girish Karnard. A brief account of the plays of Karnad is given below, basing on this concept.

1. Yayati:

It is the first play of Karnad, published in 1964. It interprets as ancient myth from the ‘Mahabharatha’ in modern context. It is an existentialist play on the theme of responsibility. The story centres round the character of Yayati, “a king who is in the prime of his life is cursed to old age and he goes around asking people, “Will you take my old age? Will you take my old age?.” No once accepts, except his own son, Puru. Ultimately “the son becomes old and the father becomes young”. Yayati enjoyed happiness form varied sources but he is always discontented and is always madly running in pursuit of new pleasures and new enjoyments. He mistakes momentary worldly pleasures for eternal happiness and ponders over all the time how to get them.

Karnad interprets the ancient theme in modern context. Like Yayati, the common man ...

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...reality. This is the effect of post-colonialism. Karnad’s plays provided us a picture of woman in the post-colonial society.


1. Karnad, Girish: “Tale -Danda”, Delhi: OUP, 1995

2. Karnad, Girish. “The Dreams of Tippu Sultan” Delhi, OUP, 2004

3. Karnad, Girish: “Bali: The Sacrifice”, Delhi, OUP, 2004.

4. Karnad, Girish: Three Plays. Delhi: OUP, 1997.

5. Karnad, Girish: “The Fire and the Rain”, Delhi: OUP, 1993

6. Karnad, Girish: “Wedding Album”, New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2009.

7. Karnad, Girish: “Boiled Beans on Toast”, New Delhi, OUP, 2014

8. Karnad, Girish, “Yayati”, New Delhi, OUP, 1961.

9. Karnad, Girish, “Hayavadana”, New Delhi, OUP, 2012.

9. Sharma, R.S: “Studies in Contemporary Literature”, New Delhi: Sarup & Sons, 2000.

10. Naik, M.K & Mokashi-Panekar, S: “Perspectives on Indian Drama in English”, Chennai, OUP, 1977.
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