K.V. Subbanna is one of the most acclaimed dramatists from the state of Karnataka who’s known in a national level.
His Early Years and Career
Kantugodu Vibhuthi Subbanna or K.V.Subbanna was born into a Vibhuthi family in 1932, in the Shimoga District of Karnataka. He was born in a family that appreciated all forms of arts and his father set up a small dramatic society called Neelanakantheshwara Natya Sangha in 1949, in the village of Heggodu, in Sagar Taluk. This society was later turned into a world renowned institution by Subbanna.
The Lal Bahadur College in Sagar had K.V. Subbanna as its first secretary. He joined the Rare Taste Club which fostered and encouraged the appreciation of great artistic creations from across the world, including Satyajit Ray’s films. His eclectic tastes led him to develop a unique style of play writing, assimilating modern ideas while retaining his cultural roots.
His Professional Career and Plays
K.V. Subbanna has adapted the plays of many of the world’s greatest dramatists like Shakespeare, Moliere, Brecht and Kalidasa to Kannada Theatre. He has also translated some works like ‘An Actor Prepares’ by Stanislavsky and the Sanskrit play ‘Dasarupaka’ by Dhananjaya.
He has written many plays for children, like Kadinalli Kathe (A Forest Story), Anchemane (Post Office), Bettakke Chaliyadare (If the Mountain Shakes). Many of Subbanna’s own plays draw from Indian epics and stories, and he fits them in a modern context.
The small dramatic society, Neelakantheshwara Natya Sangha, set up by his father in 1949, was turned into a cultural movement by K.V.Subbanna. It works to revive traditional and folk arts, conducts theatre workshops in remote corners of Karnataka, runs a theatre training school that offers a one year diploma course, and conducts cultural seminars and training programs among other activities.
K.V. Subbanna’s repertory group, Tiruguta, takes theatre to the lesser known villages of Karnataka in an attempt to bridge the gap between the urban and rustic tastes in arts.
K.V. Subbanna’s publishing house, Akshara Prakasana, publishes theatrical literature in Kannada. One of its finest publications to date remains the Kannada translation of Bharata’s Natyasastra.
Awards and Recognition
K.V.Subbanna received world recognition in 1991 when he won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature, and Creative Communication Arts. He won the Sangeet Natak Academy Award in 1994, the Sahitya Academy Award in 2003, and the Padma Shri in 2004.
K.V.Subbanna passed away on the 16th of July, 2005. He has left an indelible mark in Karnataka’s literary and theatrical circles. His NINASAM continues his work, serving to create an appreciation for the fine arts and encouraging artistic talent throughout Karnataka.