Earlier, in his letter to Girish Karnad, CL Max Nikias stated that the Doctorate degree was being given to honour his pioneering contribution as a playwright as well as the seminal role he had played in shaping modern Indian theatre. He added that the honour also recognized his stellar accomplishments as writer, actor and director for film and television.
Dr Girish Karnad is the first person from South India to be honoured by the University of Southern California. Along with him, Steven A Ballmer, the Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft Corporation and Herala Zur Hausen, virologist and Nobel laureate, shared the honorary doctorate of Humane Letters for their outstanding contribution to their respective fields on the occasion.
For the past four decades, Girish Karnad has been composing plays by using history and mythology to tackle contemporary issues. 'Tughlaq', 'Hayavadana', 'Nagamandala', 'Bali', 'Agni mattu Male', 'Yayaathi', 'Taledanda' and 'Hittina Hunja' are some of popular plays written by him. Directors like Ebrahim Alkazi, BV Karanth, Alyque Padamsee, Prasanna, Arvind Gaur, Satyadev Dubey, Vijaya Mehta, Shyamanand Jalan and Amal Allana have directed his plays.
The noted screenwriter made his first directorial venture in Kannada films with the movie Vamsha Vruksh, which is based on SL Bhairappa's Kannada novel. Later, he directed Kannada movies like Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane, Ondanondu Kaladalli, Cheluvi and Kadu. His Hindi movies include Utsav, Godhuli and and Pukar. Besides this, he has acted in Kannad movies like Samskara, Kanooru Heggaditi and Aa Dinagalu and, B-Town projects like Iqbal and 8*10 Tasveer.
However, the South Indian director has got several Filmfare, Nataional film awards for his films. He has also been honoured with highest civilian awards like Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, Kannada Sahitya Academy award, Sahitya Academy award, Jnanpeeth Award and Rajyotsava Award. Doctorate from the USC is the latest honour for his outstanding contribution.