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He was a fighter: Ali Abbas Zafar on Girish Karnad shooting with an oxygen pipe in Tiger Zinda Hai

The actor was in ill health during the shoot, but that didn't deter him from his commitment. 

Keyur Seta

The nation woke up today to the sad news of the death of legend Girish Karnad after a prolonged illness due to age-related issues. He was a playwright, actor, director, literary figure and social activist, all rolled into one, and was known for his performances in Kannada and Hindi cinema.

Karnad’s last film was Ali Abbas Zafar’s Tiger Zinda Hai (2017), which starred Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif in lead roles. Karnad reprised his character of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) Chief Dr Shenoy from the first film in the series, Ek Tha Tiger (2012). 

The late artiste gave a convincing performance, which wasn’t a surprise. But what made his last act special was that he was acting with an oxygen pipe around his nostrils. His bad health condition wouldn’t deter him from his commitment. 

Zafar remembered the fighting spirit Karnad showed during the shoot in a conversation with us. “It was phenomenal. I think he was a fighter going by the way he played that character. Me and the entire team of Tiger will miss him a lot. We only have love for him. He was great in terms of his persona. He was a fighter at heart. He was ill for a long time. May God rest his soul. He will be in a better place for sure,” he recalled. 

Speaking on how big a loss it is, Zafar added, “Right now we are very sad because we have just lost a very important personality of the entire nation. He was a writer, playwright, actor and director. The kind of knowledge that he possessed was phenomenal. It’s not a great loss only for the industry but also for the entire nation. I stand by his family and friends.” 

Karnad was awarded the Padma Shri in 1974 and Padma Bhushan in 1992.