There are many luminaries in the arts scene in Karnataka, but none brighter than Padma Shri B.V. Karanth. He was an alumnus of the National School of Drama, where he served as Director in his later years.
His Initial Years and Education
Initially, he entered the world of theater and performing arts at the tender age of seven, working with the likes of Girish Karnad and P. Lankesh. He then left home to join the Gubbi Veeranna drama company, where he first worked with Dr. Rajkumar. Under Gubbi Veeranna’s patronage, Karanth did his Masters at Benares University, where he also received training in classical Hindustani music.
His Contributions to Theater and Career
After graduating from the National School of Drama, he worked tirelessly to expand the reach of theater to the far corners of the country. He is the contemporary of great artistes like Girish Karnad, Dr. Rajkumar and U.R. Ananthamurthy.
He has directed more than a hundred plays in Kannada, Hindi, English and other regional languages and has helped in spreading the great works of Shakespeare to the Indian population and also directed children’s plays.
B.V. Karanth was also a successful director, having worked with heavyweights like Girish Karnad and Dr. Rajkumar, apart from setting the music score for more than 25 films.
His career, spanning almost 60 decades in film and theater, is a testimony to the talents of this extraordinary artist and he’s also responsible for translating Girish Karnad’s play ‘Tuglaq’ to Kannada from Hindi.
His Awards and Accolades
Babukodi Venkataramana Karanth was awarded the Padma Shri in 1981 in recognition of his yeoman services to theater, both in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. His legacy to the world of performing arts includes premier institutions like the Bharat Bhavan and Rangayana.
He has received the National Award for Best Film, Best Direction and twice for Best Music Score, attesting to his talents in various fields. He has also received the Kalidas Samman from the Madhya Pradesh government and the Sangeet Natak Academy Award from his contemporaries.
The Karnataka government also has conferred on him the Gubbi Veeranna award for his contributions to Kannada Theater.
After he served as the Director of the Rangamandal repertory in Madhya Pradesh under the banner of the Bharat Bhavan, in 1986, he returned to Karnataka. The state government then asked him to set up the famous Rangayana in Mysore, which provides support and patronage to struggling artists.
He also founded Benaka with the help of his wife Prema. Benaka is an acronym for Bengaluru Nagara Kalavidaru and it helps in the successful staging of many popular Kannada plays. Karanth breathed his last in the year 2002, on the 1st of September.