Chandrashekhar Kambar is a modern Kannada novelist, dramatist and academician. He is a man of many talents, having ventured into film making and acting while pursuing his literary career.
Kambar is a litterateur, poet and actor, and he was born in the year 1937 in Bangalore. He’s a winner of the Sangeet Natak Academy award, and is a prominent personality in the state of Karnataka.
His Early Years and Education
Born on the 2nd of January, 1937, Chandrashekhar Kambar is a native of Ghodgeri, Belgaum. He completed his primary schooling in Belgaum and went on to complete his post-graduation and doctorate from Dharwad University in Belgaum. He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in the year 1968.
He taught at Karnataka University before taking up a teaching position at the University of Chicago. After moving back to India, he took up teaching at Bangalore University for two decades before accepting the post of Vice Chancellor in Kannada University, Hampi.
His Career and Notable Works
Dr Chandrasekhar Kambar often forayed into Karnataka’s folklore, oral traditions in storytelling and the traditional dance drama form called Yakshagana.
A prolific writer in Kannada, Kambar has penned 12 research treatises on folklore and theatre, and also compiled a dictionary on Kannada folklore. He has also written three novels, 21 plays and eight collections of poems. Five of his books were awarded prizes by the Karnataka Sahitya Akademi. As an eminent dramatist with deep interest in folk art forms, he has presented papers on folk theatre all around the world.
He’s a film artiste and he’s directed a number of award winning movies, namely Sangeeta and Kaadu Kudure. A multi-talented personality, Chandrasekhar Kambar has also composed music for six feature films. It is a little known fact that Kambar wrote stage plays for children too. His collection of short stories for children has been translated into English and these stories have been released as comic books.
His play Jokumaraswamy won many awards despite having a plot that was considered as scandalous by many. Dr Chandrashekhar Kambar also served as the Chairman of Karnataka Nataka Akademi and the National School of Drama.
It was as a dramatist and playwright that Kambar won acclaim from critics and fans. His stage plays like Rishyaringa, Chalesha and Jaya Siddhanayaka dealt with controversial topics and are considered Kannada theatre classics. His story Siri Sampige was adapted for the stage and presented in Yakshagana style by Girish Karnad as ‘Nagamandala’.
His epic poem Chakori has been translated into English and it was very well received by literal circles from around the country.
His Awards and Recognition
His native state of Karnataka conferred the Karnataka Rajyothsava award and the Karnataka Sahity Akademi award on him for his contribution to arts. The Sahitya Akademi and Sangeet Natak Academy awards followed, and he was crowned with the Padma Shri in the year 2001.
More honours came his way when he was selected for the Jnanpith award in September 2011, which is the most coveted one in the literary field. When he received the honour, Kambar became the eighth person of Kannada heritage to win the award. The award helped him further establish himself as one of the literary greats.
Folklore and folk story telling traditions have been the common thread running through all of Kambar’s ventures in the performing arts. He is often credited with fusing the traditions of Yakshagana with the rustic dialect of North Karnataka in all his plays. The music in his plays normally has robust and rustic notes that are native to rural Karnataka.
Dr Kambar, with other doyens of Kannada arts and language, works hard to ensure the preservation of the Kannada language and its literary wealth.