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Ithaca College's Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival Features Visit By Renowned Indian Playwright

ITHACA, NY — The ongoing series of blogs and special events that form Ithaca College’s Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival 2009–10 will continue in late October with two free public events by Garish Karnad, the FLEFF Distinguished Writer in Residence. On Monday, Oct. 26, the foremost Indian playwright Karnad will talk on “Colonialism and Indian Theater” at 6:30 p.m. in Clark Lounge, Campus Center. On Wednesday, Oct, 28, at 6:30 p.m., English faculty member Claire Gleitman will direct a staged reading of Karnad’s play “Hayavadana” (The Transposed Heads) in the Handwerker Gallery.

“Like most of Karnad’s plays, this one is funny, profound, poetic and exciting,” said Anjali Nerlekar, assistant professor of English. “Heads will be cut off, animals and humans will interchange selves, goddesses will come to life and serious issues will be explored without any moralizing.”

A writer, actor, filmmaker and movie director, Karnad is best known as a playwright, and for the past few decades has written plays that explore the connections between the traditional, folk roots of Indian culture and the modern, postcolonial lives of Indians after independence. His talk will examine the ways in which modern Indian theater accommodates these divergent pre-colonial and colonial influences.

“Until the 19th century, entertainment in India was the sole prerogative of certain communities which had traditionally specialized in specific performing forms and crafts,” Karnad said. “The new laissez-faire philosophy of the colonial masters introduced the notion that entertainment was a business enterprise, open to all castes and subject to the free play of market forces. This development radically altered not only the meaning of ‘entertainment,’ but it led Indians to redefine what they meant by their arts and therefore by their heritage. It culminated in a fundamental reorientation of the entire cultural sphere.”

Winner of many of his country’s highest literary honors, Karnad is one of the few world ambassadors of theater appointed by the International Institute of Paris, UNESCO. Critics have called him the best representative of drama, cinema and literature of the post-independence generation in India.

More information on Karnad is available at This blog is one of 13 FLEFF 2009–10 blogs up and running at the FLEFF web site: In addition to the blogs, FLEFF will roll out a succession of online, user-generated events that will accommodate a range of ideas under the program stream “Open Spaces: A Yearlong Nomadic Exploration.” FLEFF will also offer a series of Ithaca premiere screenings and discussion forums at Cinemapolis.

For more information on Karnad’s visit, contact Anjali Nerlekar, assistant professor of English, at or (607) 274-7340).

For more information on FLEFF, contact co-director Patricia Zimmermann at (607) 274-3431 or

Originally published in News Releases: Ithaca College's Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival Features Visit By Renowned Indian Playwright.