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Kota Shivarama Karanth was the ultimate Renaissance Man. A giant of world literature, he produced dozens of novels, plays, children’s works, autobiographies, popular science books, translations and much else. In 1977, he was awarded the Bharatiya Jnanpith Award for the novel Mookajjiya Kanasugalu. But Karanth was more than a writer. He also dabbled in journalism and movie-making, ran a publishing house, and campaigned for environmental and political causes. He was instrumental in transforming the ancient dance-drama form of Yakshagana for a modern audience.
While a great deal has been written about the man and his genius, there is little material about the intimate details of his life. Through much of his creative career, for instance, Karanth was unflinchingly supported by his wife, Leela. The Karanths had four children. The eldest, Harsha, died in 1961. The other three, Malavika, Ullas and Kshama, came together to present this uniquely personal account of what it was like to be the children of a creative genius. Growing up Karanth documents their ‘rare privilege’, while also detailing the world of Shivarama Karanth through their eyes.
Multi-layered and nuanced, critical and affectionate, and filled with revelations that open up new facets of their father’s life, Malavika, Ullas and Kshama reveal Karanth and his times like no one else can.
Presented by K. Ullas Karanth
Chiranjiv Singh is a former Ambassador of India to UNESCO in Paris. An Indian Administrative Service officer of the 1969 batch, he retired in 2005 as the Development Commissioner of Karnataka and Additional Chief Secretary to the Government of Karnataka. After his retirement he has been associated with numerous non-governmental organisations working in the fields of rural development, environment and culture. He was awarded the Rajyothsava Award in 2005 by the Government of Karnataka for his achievements.
Kshama Rau developed a passion for performing arts from her father and became an accomplished Odissi dancer and a dance teacher. After graduating in chemistry, she trained in Odissi at the Kalakshetra in Chennai and later received advanced training under Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra. She directs her dance school, Nrithya Shilpa, at Bengaluru. Kshama Rau is a member of the advisory committee established by the Government of Karnataka to oversee the restoration of Shivarama Karanth’s Balavana.
Malavika Kapur is a Visiting Professor at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bengaluru, after retiring as head of the Clinical Psychology department at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS). Kapur has published 20 books and over 100 articles and received the Fellowship of the Indian Association of Clinical Psychologists, British Psychological Society, and Lifetime Achievement awards from the National Academy of Psychology.
Shoba Narayan is the author of five books. She has been a journalist and columnist for over 30 years, writing about dance, music, the arts, travel, food and culture for global publications, winning a James Beard award and Pulitzer Fellowship. She is a failed bharatanatyam dancer and an avid rasika of the performing arts, most especially dance. Her lifelong mission is to get fit without exercising and lose weight without dieting.
Sugata Srinivasaraju is an award-winning bilingual journalist, author and columnist. He was in editorial leadership positions at the FirstPerson Media, Asianet Group, Times Group, Outlook Group and Hindustan Times Media. He started his career with Deccan Herald and has written for prominent publications like the Times of India, The Mint, The Irish Times, The Economic Times, The Wire, The Indian Express, The New Indian Express and The Caravan. Sugata was a Chevening Scholar in UK and a fellow of the Aspen Institute in the USA.
Sugata’s books include ‘Keeping Faith with the Mother Tongue: The Anxieties of a Local Culture’ and ‘Pickles From Home: The Worlds of A Bilingual’. His political biography of the eleventh prime minister: ‘Furrows in a Field: The Unexplored Life of HD Deve Gowda’ is being published by Penguin Random House later this year.
Sugata lives in Bangalore with his wife, son, and daughter.
Vivek Shanbhag writes in Kannada. He has published five short story collections, three novels and two plays. He has edited two anthologies, one of which is in English. Vivek was the founding editor of the literary journal Desha Kaala. His critically-acclaimed novel Ghachar Ghochar is translated into 18 languages worldwide. He is the co-translator of U R Ananthamurthy’s book Hindutva or Hind Swaraj into English. He is an engineer by training and lives in Bangalore, India.
Kota Ullas Karanth, originally trained as an engineer at NITK, Surathkal (1971). He then up changed careers to pursue his passion for wildlife, obtaining a Masters degree from the University of Florida, USA (1988) and a Doctorate from Mangalore University, India (1993). Joining Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in 1988, he built its India Program over the next thirty years. He currently serves as a consultant Director for Science-Asia, for WCS. He is also the Director of Centre for Wildlife Studies, which he founded in 1984.
Dr. Karanth is an Adjunct Professor at the Universities of Florida and Minnesota, and at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research’s National Centre Biological Sciences, India where he established a world class MSc Program in Wildlife Biology.
Dr. Karanth has conducted long-term research on the ecology of tigers, other predators and their prey in India and other parts of Asia. His areas of expertise include large carnivore ecology and modeling of animal populations as well as conservation biology and policy. He has published over 150 scientific papers in prestigious journals as well as numerous popular articles. He has authored/edited/co-edited several books: The Way of the Tiger (2001), Monitoring Tigers and their Prey (2002), A view from the Machan (2006), Tiger Tales (2007), Camera traps in Animal Ecology (2009), Science of Saving Tigers (2011), Science and Conservation of Animal Populations (2017) and Methods for Monitoring Tiger and Prey Populations (2017).
Ullas Karanth serves on the World Conservation Union’s specialist groups on Cats, Elephants, Wild Cattle and Small Carnivores. He has served as a member of the Indian Government’s Forest Advisory Committee, National Tiger Conservation Authority and the Governing Boards of Wildlife Institute of India WWF-India and the Liz Claiborne Foundation, New York. Dr. Karanth has been active in the conservation arena for four decades, advising several conservation advocacy groups in India.
His work has been extensively featured in world’s media including Nature, New York Times, Time Magazine, National Geographic, BBC, CNN, Discovery and Animal Planet.
In recognition of his contributions wildlife conservation, Dr. Karanth won the Sierra Club’s EarthCare award (2006), World Wildlife Funds’s J. Paul Getty award (2007) and was elected a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences (2008). He was conferred the Karnataka Rajya Prashashti in 2011, and the high national civilian Honor Padmashree by the President of India in 2012.
Dr. Karanth (70) lives in Bangalore, India and is married to Prof. Prathibha Karanth, a speech pathologist. His daughter, Dr. Krithi Karanth, is also a conservation biologist with Centre for Wildlife Studies.