Kota Shivarama Karanth raises an important question: Is there really a need to recount the “absolute Renaissance Man”, Kota Shivarama Karanth, a quarter century after his death? This leads to another question: How different, accurate and critical are these memoirs in presenting one of the early ambassadors to Kannada identity, literature, and culture, especially when there is already a biography of Karanth himself and many other biographies?
The answer lies in the way in which he gently leads readers into Karanth’s personal world, hitherto unknown, by the children of polymaths K Ulas Karanth, Malavika Kapoor and Kshama Rao.
This is by no means a traditional resume. Indeed, when the subject is a person like Karanth, how can it be. One has to remember that Karanth was a giant of literature who produced 45 novels, 31 plays, six travel stories, six satires, 231 pieces of children’s literature, nine philosophical paths, eight books aimed at adult literacy, and 13 books on fine art. , and nine autobiographical writings. , including two full volumes, a Kannada dictionary, 17 popular science books including two encyclopedias, five edited books, 16 translated books, four story collections, two poems, 108 articles, all in Kannada and seven articles in English, plus Reinventing Yakshagana for a modern audience.
Of the ten seasons, Malavika and Kshama each contributed two, and Ulas contributed three. Three others are made jointly. Striker by Chiranjiv Singh, Karanth’s friend and admirer, adds value. A touching poem by the authors’ mother Leela about her son Harsha, another about cherished memories of Kashma and other additions help us understand Karanth’s background and context. The book is a children’s tribute to their loving father; It is a compelling personal narrative, chronicling the lives and times of a culturally distinct family. It also properly sets some records, making it an autobiographical as well as cultural history of South India. Nevertheless, the book is, at its core, an honest attempt to describe what it means to be the children of a creative genius, a “rare privilege” in their own words.
The authors explain that it was not their intention to write an uncritical biography of holiness. “We hope that an honest account of his personal life covering this period will serve as a useful contribution to the social history of the Canadigas and their land.”
They are as honest as they promise; They write without hesitation, for example, that “some of his (Karanth) prolific intellectual output tended to be modest.”
Ulas notes “His opposition to the Kaiga nuclear power plant in Uttara Kannada, while at the same time opposing coal power generation are examples of the contradictions in his environment.” The book also highlights how poorly Karanth is about animals and filmmaking. Highlights of the book are his intimate portrait of Palavana, the unique experiences he provided, and the authors’ emotional journey with their father. Fortunately, there is no chronological account of facts and events. To their children, Karanth was “a tender soul who could hardly watch anyone suffer for more than a minute, while a tyrant shrieked angrily at those who disagreed with him. Democratic in theory, and sometimes tyrannical in practice.”
Each one has space for memory individually. Portions of the authors’ life stories are woven into the fabric of this book, making this in part a personal story. They’re thinking, “We believe this has ensured that all of us can recount our individual experiences while also being a part of the collective experience.”
Malavika shows how her father was an stubbornly liberal and conservative. Khachama’s narration highlights how he connects the two cultures of science and art. Ullas proves that journalist Patil Potappa is wrong about the allegations he made in his autobiography regarding Karanth’s wedding. They describe the inner turmoil and conflict in their relationship with their father during his later years. Leela finally got her due as the authors revealed how much Amma supports Karanth’s creative work.
Some of the parts dealing with Leela, the tragic death of her eldest son Harsha and Karanth’s last days are really touching. It is difficult to comprehend “the transformation of the energetic and masterful Renaissance man into a sad, obsessive old man of recent years.” The immense hardships he faced during his wedding and in the last years of his life enable readers to understand him as an individual, a father, a husband, and a businessman. These details, insights, and intimate anecdotes make this biography undisputable. In an effort to be intellectual opponents rather than flatter the uninformed, the authors use a fluid, unflappable style that suits appropriately candid photography. The book pays homage to Karanth’s well-deserved reputation as an inspiring polymath and documents the astonishing achievements of Kannada literature in the twentieth century.
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