ಹಿರಣ್ಣಯ್ಯ - Hirannayya

3/27/2009 11:01:00 AM / Posted by Namma Kannada Nadu /

Born in March 1905 in Mysore, K. Hirannayya has earned fame like no other in the field of Kannada theatre. At the age of ten, he joined the “Opera Talkies”, Mysore, working on movie posters and playing harmonium. He began acting in dramas produced and directed by G. R. Sando, the owner of the “Opera Talkies”. Inspired by a book on prostitution, he staged a drama titled “Karma Kannady” (the mirror of fate), which later on became popular as Devadasi, based on the social problem of Devadasis. This play was later on staged continuously for a period of five months during 1941 , A record breaking milestone in Hirannayya’s life.

In 1927, Hirannayya was chosen for Gubbi Veeranna's drama company’s branch in Mysore, which brought great fame. Later he joined Subbiah Naidu's Sangeetha - Saahitya Samrajya Nataka Sabha Drama Company, where his two dramas Karma Kannady and Yecchama Nayaka became very popular. On invitation, Hirannayya staged the drama Sadaarame playing the dual role of Adimurthy and the thief, during the Dasara festival in Town Hall, Mysore. The shows ran houseful for 48 days and his troupe recovered a profitable amount.By 1942, Hirannayya along with his friends had set up the Mitra Mandali Drama Company. He later directed Vani, the third talkie movie of that era, which won accolades and made substantial profit. In 1944, the then health minister in the Mysore Maharaja’s cabinet T. C. M. Royan, awarded the title of Cultural Comedian to Hirannayya. He died on March 21, 1953. One of his famous quotes says, "Drama is the best type of art and the worst type of profession". His son, Narasimha Murthy popularly know as "Master Hirannayya" has been paying a tribute to his father by keeping alive the characters played by him and propagating his message. Master Hirannayya's Lanchaavatara, a popular satire on corruption still runs to packed houses.


Master Hirannayya was born in 1934 in Kanathur village , Turvekere taluk of Tumkur district, Karnataka.He was the only son of Late K . Hirannayya .He took his training in dramatics under his father and on his father's death took over the drama troupe as its director, actor and playwright.

His dramas Lanchaavatara, Nadu beedi Narayana, Kapi mushti, Anaachaara, Brastaachaara have not only entertained the Kannadigas but have also awakened to

them to the reality around them. His play lanchaavatara has seen more than 10000 shows and even after 46 years is still popular with the audiences.

He has toured all over the world and put on boards his plays at the invitation of his admirers.
Several are the titles and awards won by him.The Karnataka State Open University has conferred on him the honorary Doctor of Literature.

On Feb 8th 2009 he received Sandesha Art Award .



For "Rangabhoomi," his house on 13th Cross, Banashankari 2nd Stage, upholds the tradition of family values, drawing attention to the philosophy that all of us are actors in the theatre of God and each one of us should play our roles to the best of our ability.
Hirannayya's house may not be an architectural marvel but is certainly a place of warmth, values and serenity. Anyone who visits his house is bound to carry sweet memories. Hirannayya and his wife, Shantha, are living examples of simple living and high thinking.

Hirannayya had a 12-bedroom house on Bull Temple Road, Basavanagudi, called "Lanchavathara," named after the famous political satire. He had to sell that house to clear debts. Following this, the Hirannayyas took a decision that "Rangabhoomi" will not be built with loans. Whenever a play was staged, a part of the proceeds would be kept aside for the house. A relative of Hirannayya, a civil engineer, agreed to build the house and work was completed in five years.
As the site is naturally elevated, the cellar and the ground floor open to the road on different sides. The house is a 3000 sq ft area with the cellar, the ground floor and the first floor. The cellar was initially used to rehearse plays and was built with a lot of beams to support the two floors above. The beams are now covered by a false ceiling.
The entire house was used by the family for five years. But as Hirannayya's theatre activities declined, the family moved into the cellar while the ground floor was rented out to Karnataka Bank and the first floor is being used as an office by one of Hirannayya' sons, who is a chartered accountant.
Hirannayya has three sons and two daughters. While one son lives in the U.S., two sons and their families live with Hirannayya in the house while his daughters live nearby. There are 15 people living together at "Rangabhoomi," including two unrelated artistes.It is not easy to keep the concept of the joint family alive. It requires a lot of sacrifice to benefit from staying together.
A visit to Rangabhoomi teaches openness, positive attitude and creativity. The house is a temple of learning from where this writer came back recharged to face life with enthusiasm.

Babu Hirannayya, an artiste in his own right and son of Master Hirannayya, recalls that the 50 x 80 corner site at Banashankari was purchased in 1976-77.

He has converted some part of the house into a museum and no space on the wall has been wasted. There is a cosy verandah with a painting of the Hirannayyas on the wall along with some certificates of honour.

Babu Hirannayya is set to publish his father veteran stage artiste Master Hirannayya’s plays that revolutionalised Kannada theatre, in the form of an anthology. He is doing it to clear misconception about him and to keep his work alive in future.Babu, a well-known name in television and theatre world, also plans to publish all the plays written by his grandfather, comedian Hirannayya, who wrote the hit play “Devadasi”, staged countless number of times in the past six decades.
“Unfortunately, many people think my grandfather and my father just wrote some comedy-oriented dramas and staged them. This misconception can only be cleared by publication of all these plays,” He said .
Babu said each book, titled “Nenapina Angaladhalli”, will have five plays written by his father and grandfather. And he wants all the books to be published simultaneously in the name of Shantha Publications.

He has already completed a script for a film which has been titled “Chintegalige Vidaya Heli”.“I am following the foot steps of my grandfather and father in writing script. The story is very contemporary and I have narrated the script with a bit of sarcasm and seriousness,” says Babu, whose performances in serials like “Muththina Thorana” and “Yeke Heege Namma Naduve” have been much appreciated.
He had also worked as an assistant director to National Award winning director Ramadas Naidu on the movie “Mussanje”.

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