Dr S. K. Kareem Khan Biography
Dr Kareem Khan was born in 1908, in Sakleshpur, Hassan District, Karnataka, and passed away in Bangalore, Karnataka on 29th July 2006.
Dr Kareem Khan was a native of Karnataka, India. A Muslim of Afghan-Arab lineage, Dr Khan made the language and culture of Karnataka, India his cause-majore.During India's freedom struggle, he brought to bear the power of his pen and oratory, and faught alongside major Gandhian personalities. Leading by example, he strove towards a seamless integration of Muslim and Hindu culture and spiritual practice. He actively contributed to the recording, chronicling, composition and recital of Kannada folk art, dance and poetry and their modern expression through movies.
He studied formal schooling only upto standard 8, but extensively studied classical Sanskrit and Kannada literature under Achangi Narayana Shastri of Sakleshpur. Despite his informal education, he mastered Sanskrit and Kannada, not to mention Urdu and Hindi more than any academic scholar.
He worked as an editor and sub editor of two publications Loka Mitra of Dharwad and Antharanga of Udupi in the 1930’s . Having seen Gandhiji at Nandi and also reading about him in the Hindu he ventured into the freedom movement , his involvement with the freedom struggle resulted in his family loosing the licence of the textile business and he left to Bombay to serve in the Royal Indian Navy where he worked for about a year , before the officials discovered his past freedom movements and relieved him from service , However he was presented a medal and citation when being relieved from the Navy during Pre -Independence
Key Accomplishments of Dr S. K. Kareem Khan
· Personally participated in and imprisoned atleast seven times for Freedom Movement.
· A main contributor to Karnataka Ekikarana. Fought for inclusion of Bellary and Bidar districts and Kollegal and other regions into Karnataka.
· Contributions to building and organizing the Seva Dal and Congress. Was the organizing secretary of Bharat Seva Dal in its formative days.
· Groomed and motivated young politicians of his time.
· Freely lent his powerful voice, oratory and charisma during freedom movement to rally the masses.
· He never claimed the monetary benefits and pension given to freedom fighters.
· Of Afghan-Arab descent, but made India, Karnataka his own.
· He personified the proverbial but increasingly elusive bridge across communal and linguistic divisions, by studying and working on the Vedas, Sanskrit, Kannada and folk art and music, while also being an observant Muslim and well versed in Urdu and Persian literature.
· Worked to persuade Muslims to come into the Congress fold rather than the separatist Muslim League.
· Remained close to secular ideals and working to gain knowledge of other religions. Was a prominent speaker at several Sarva Dharma Sammelanas at Dharmasthala and other places.
· He has written devotional songs on Dharmasthala Manjunatha, Raghavendra Swami, Lord Venkateshwara, Gommateshwara, Ayyappa Swami, Mahaveera Jaina also.
· Dr Kareem Khan and Dr Shivarama karanth were awarded the prestigeous Nadojja Award in 1997.
Contributions to Theatre and Literature
· Translated Bhavabhuti's Sanskrit play Malati Madhava into Kannada. Also translated Laila Majnu into Kannada.
· He wrote a total of 80 plays, most of which were performed regularly by theatre companies and some published as books, including Nirdoshi, Neehara, Neevaara and Mahatyagi Lakshmi.
· His plays Nirdoshi and Madhumohan have been staged about 10,000 times. In Madhumohan Dr Rajkumar played a lead role before entering movies.
· He was well versed in Urdu and Persian literature as well and translated works from these languages into Kannada.
· Extensively researched the life of Kempegowdas and history of Bengalooru and wrote plays based on this research, titled Mahaprabhu Magadi Kempegowda, Bengalooru Nirmapaka Magadi Kempegowda, and Kempegowda Sowrabha.
· Extensively studied dasa sahitya and other classical Kannada and Sanskrit literature.
· As a writer, his book Balidaani Hussain is a masterpiece.
· His other works include Krishnaleele and many other published and unpublished works.
· He contributed to various publications including Mysore University Magazine, Prabuddha Karnataka beginning as early as 1942. His story Nayana Bhikara Karabala was included in Kannada textbooks prescribed for II year BA.
· He received an Honorary Doctorate from Gulbarga University in 1989 for his accomplishments.
Contributions to Folklore
· Physically travelled thousands of Kilometers around the Karnataka hinterland and captured and archived video footage of folk, tribal and street music, dance and art forms.
· He collected folk songs of various tribes such as the Halakkis, Yakshagana of Badagutittu and Tenkanatittu styles.
· Propagated the beauty and richness of folk music and dance, especially at a time when these arts had no patronage and would have otherwise vanished. These are now preserved for posterity due to his efforts.
· He also made effective use of folklore and lavanis to rally the masses towards freedom struggle and communal harmony.
· He wrote lavanis on Kittur Chennamma and sang them as well to popular enthusiasm.
· Among his innumerable Janapada collections, the most popular ones are Javarayya Bandaru Barikaiyalli Barallilla. Sharanusharanu Gananayaka.
· A pioneer of Janapada, he was appointed Chairman of the Karnataka Janapada and Yakshnagana Academy, for the years 1987-1990. He was conferred titles such as Janapada Bhishma, Janapada Garudiga, Janapada Jangama, Janapada Kasturi, and was the first recipient of the prestigeous Janapadashree award.
Contributions to Kannada Film Industry
· Award winning contributions to Kannada film industry through lyrics, scripts, dialog, music. The most well loved songs included devotional songs like Natavara Gangadhara, Jaya Gowri Jagadeeshwari, Nudi Mana Shiva Guna Sankeertana and romantic songs like Baare Nee Cheluve.
· The very first film for which he wrote the script, lyrics and dialogs won the Best Writer Award in 1962-63.
· A lot of his songs were written for the immortal Dr Rajkumar, and sung by noted singer P B Sreenivas.
· One of his most enduring songs is Jayate Jayate Satyameva Jayate sung by Manna De.
· He wrote for more than 25 films and contributed to the evolution of good Kannada cinema
· Some of his movies include Shivalinga Sakshi, Bevu Bella, Jeevana Taranga, Chandra Kumara, Deva Maanava, Mitra Drihi, Yaaru Hitavaru, Bengalooru Raatriyalli, Rajeshwari, Prema Anuraga and several others.
· He contribued to the small screen as well, by writing dialog for the popular teleserial Ondu Sullu and Kali Karna.
· In 2004, he recieved a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the film industry.
Personal Life, Ethics, Conduct
· Lived by and personified a strict code of ethics - a rare trait among public figures.
· A veritable Gandhian. Moreover, his personality, principles and talent can be easily considered the equal of personalities such as Khan Abdul Gafar Khan, Ut. Bismillah Khan, President Abdul Kalam etc.
· Anti-dowry - would not attend marriages of families known to have acepted a dowry.
· Loyalty - Unwavering towards friends and ideals.
· Animal compassion - Fed birds, monkeys, even ants that dwelt in his quarters
· Extreme hunger for knowledge. Voracious reader. Spent most of meager earnings on books. Even during his last days in extreme frail state, his remark was "I'm myself still a student!"
· Never accepted handouts - Refused money or gifts or passed them on immediately to a needy person..
· Sense of humor, self-depracation.
· Humbleness - Never overtly propagated his talents and work. Fame came to him, he never lobbied for fame or position.
Key Facts of Dr Kareem Khan's Public Life
· Extensively mentioned in the press, magazines, journals, public functions..
· Several documentaries have been made on his life and work by I & B Department, Doordarshan, Kannada and Culture Department, regional channels such as Udaya, ETV and TV 9.
· Anti-dowry - would not attend marriages of families known to have accepted a dowry.
· Doordarshan and All India Radio have archived his interviews, recordings and film songs.
· He was also featured on CNN-IBN's program “Contributions of Minorities in South India” in 2006.
Awards and Honors
· 1962/63 - Best writer award for film Swarnagowri
· 1985 - Govt of Karnataka Rajyotsava award.
· 1989 - Honorary Doctorate from Gulbarga University.
· 1989 - Combined honor by five Karnataka State Academies.
· 1991 - Kempegowda award by BMP.
· 1994 - Honor by Indian Performing Rights Society.
· 1994/95 - First Janapadashree award, Govt of Karnataka.
· 1995 - G Shampa Award.
· 1997 - Nadojja award, Hampi University.
· 1998 - Hamsaratna from Hamsaratna trust.
· 1998 - Lifetime contribution from Sandesha Media Award, Mangalore.
· 1999 - Janapada Jangama honor Sri Sri Sri Murugarajendra Swamiji of Chitradurga.
· 2000 - Chunchashree award by Sri Sri Sri Balagangadharanatha Swamiji of Adichunchanagiri Mutt.
· 2001 - First Chi Udayashankar Award.
· 2002 – Honour for the centuries giants – Kannada and Culture Dept
· 2004 - Lifetime Achievement award for contribution to films, Govt of Karnataka.
· 2004 - Honorary membership of Kannada Sahitya Parishath.
· 2004 - Kannada Siri by Mythic Society Bangalore.
· 2005 - Conferred title Malenadu Gandhi by Hassan Sahitya Parishat.
· 2006 - Kempegowda award by BMP.
· 2006 - Janapada kasturi
· 2006 - Posthumously conferred with the title Karnataka Shreshtha Maanava Ratnashree by Sri Sri Sri Shantaveeramahaswami of Koladmath Bangalore.
· In 2006 a legislation was passed in BMP council to rename Indiranagar 100 ft Road as Dr S. K. Kareem Khan road.
· Several other awards, honors and recognition by private companies such as Siemens, BHEL, BEL, Land Army, BEML , several educational institutions and many other organizations like Rotary , Lions etc.
Recognition by peers
· The doyens of Kannada literature and culture have spoken and commended his contributions extensively as listed below
· Rashtrakavi and Jnanpeeth awardee Kuvempu called him an incredible speaker.
· Rashtrakavi G S Shivarudrappa called him Janapada Jangama in 1989.
· Chitrakala Academy president R M Hadapad called him a walking encyclopedia.
· Aa Na Kru has written very highly about Dr Khan in his autobiography.
· Masti Venkatesha Iyengar was a close friend and admirer.
· T Siddhalingaiah, freedom fighter and founder President of Mysore Pradesh Congress, has written in his autobiography in 1975, very highly about Dr Khan's contributions.
· Belegera Krishnashastri, writer has extensively collaborated with Dr Khan.
· Natasarvabhouma Dr Rajkumar often would seek the blessings of Dr Khan and fondly remembered his contribution to his success as an actor.
· Former Prime minister Sri H D Devegowda, and current Karnataka Chief minister H D Kumaraswamy have noted with respect his numerous contributions to Kannada and Karnataka.
· Shri C H Jacob Lobo , Freedom fighter and MD karnatak backward class and minorities always mentions his association and contribution of Dr Khan in moulding his personality
· Several prominent personalities such as Sri Ambarish (actor and current central minister),Shri M V Rajshekaran (Gandhian and Central Minister), former minister Sri C K Jaffer Sherief, late Chief Minister Ramakrishna Hegde, Late CM Sri Gundurao, former CM S M Krishna, Sri M Veerappa Moily, Sri M P Prakash, Sri J H Patel, Sri M Chandrashekhar, and many others have spoken highly of Dr Khan.
· Former Chief Justice Nittur Srinivasa Rao very highly regarded Dr Khan.
· Film personalities such as Sri Shivram, Smt Parvatamma Rajkumar, Sri H M K Murty, Smt Jayanti, Sri Srinath , Sri Vishnuvardhan and others fondly remember his contributions to their industry.
· Shri Veerandra Hedge of Dharmasthala was very fond and personally visited and invited Dr Khan many a times
· Shri H S Doreswamy freedom fighter and many freedom fighters have great regard for Dr Khan
· Shri J Lingiah former mayor and freedom fighter was very fond of Dr Khan
· INA Ram Rao of Seva Dal has mentioned him in his autobiography
· Journalist Ekikarna leader ,Shri Patil Putappa has spoken very highly about Dr Khan