Udupi Rajagopalacharya Ananthamurthy, 81, Kannada fiction writer, poet, playwright and critic passed away yesterday at Bangalore, leaving an undelible mark on Indian literature, especially Kannada literary landscape. Educated in India and UK, he worked as a professor at several universities, headed the National Book Trust and The National Institute of Film and Television.
His first novel “Samskara” had cast the sharpest look on India’s caste hierarchy, religious superstitions and human relations in a complicated society like India. Awarded the Jnanpith in 1994, he was honored with the Padma Bhushan in 1998. One of the pioneers of “Navya” literary tradition in Kannada, He was nominated for the Man Booker prize for his over all contribution to literature in 2013.
UR caused a stir during recent Indian general elections by issuing a sternest critique of BJP’s then PM nominee, Narendra Modi. He said that he would leave India if Modi is voted to power. After Modi’s BJP had won the elections in a landslide, the NaMo brigade demanded that UR leave the country. Some have even sent him a ticket to Pakistan! UR had been a vocal anti BJP political activist. In fact, his entry into politics in 2004 happened to protest BJP. He supported Deve Gowda’s BJD as it was too against BJP later.
Regardless of his political views, UR’s contribution to Indian literature is unmatched and will be remembered for a long time.