Chandrashekhar Kambar is acclaimed for the rich mythopoeic imagination that characterizes all his writing. A stalwart playwright in the country, Kambar writes in the South Indian language of Kannada. He works in the multiple other genres of poetry, fiction, and literary and cultural criticism. In addition to many other prestigious awards, Kambar has received the country’s highest literary award, Jnanapith, in 2010. The Government of India also honored him with the Padmashree (2001) and Padmabhushan (2021).
Born in 1937 in a little village called Ghodgeri in Northern Karnataka, Kambar went on to become an illustrious scholar, teacher, and later held high level administrative positions such as the Vice Chancellor, Kannada University (Hampi), and Chairman, National School of Drama (New Delhi), President, Sahitya Akademi (New Delhi) among others
What distinguishes Kambar from his literary peers is how he roots himself in the folk and myth traditions of North Karnataka. Kambar’s oeuvre of twenty-five plays comprises many well-known works like Jokumaraswamy, Siri Sampige, Mahamayi and others. He has eleven poetry collections and six novels to his credit. Beginning from the earliest novel Karimayi to his later works like Chakori, Shikharasoorya, or Shivana Dangura—all of them highlight his signature folk-style. Kambar’s critical writing too focuses majorly on folk theatre and folk literature.
A man of many parts, Kambar has made five films and a few documentaries. He also directed the music for these films. His film Kaadu Kudure won the national award (1987).
Kambar has travelled widely and given talks at important venues in New York, Berlin, Moscow, and Akita (Japan).