Karnad's Kannada plays, such as Yayati written in 1961 when he was 23, were extremely influential and successful.
Karnad's home state of Karnataka has declared the day a holiday for schools, universities and government offices.
Girish Karnad was born in Matheran in 1938. Karnad was a Jnanpith award victor and he was also honoured with the Padma Shri and the Padma Bhushan, apart from multiple National Film Awards and a Sahitya Akademi honour.
He also served as the director of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) and the chairman of the Sangeet Natak Akademi. He made his movie and screenwriting debut with the adaptation of U R Ananthmurthy's seminal Kannada novel "Samskara" in 1970.
He was a recipient of the 1998 Jnanpith Award - the highest literary honour conferred in India. In Kannada, key films directed or co-directed by Karnad include Vamsha Vriksha (1972), about the gradual deterioration of the affairs of an extended family, Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane (1977), about the conflicts of a progressive couple with the strict religious norms of the society around him, and the action drama Ondanondu Kaladalli (1978), inspired by Akira Kurosawa's samurai films.
Karnad played Swami's father in the TV adaptation of R K Narayan's "Malgudi Days" and hosted "Turning Point", a science programme. The renowned filmmaker was also a part of many Bollywood super-hit movies like Iqbal, Nishaant, Manthan, Swami and others.
He provided the voice of late President APJ Abdul Kalam in the audiobook of Kalam's autobiography "Wings of Fire". He was last seen in Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif-starrer Tiger Zinda Hai. She wrote on Twitter, "May you rest in peace Girish Karnad sir". He will be remembered for his work as a Theater personality, film actor, and director.
Javed Akhtar (L) and Girish Karnad discuss notes during the release of book "Deshakaala" at Ravindra Kalakshetra in Bangalore in 2010. My deepest condolences to his family, friends & fans. "Girish ji's views and artistic contribution will be missed by the country".