Chandrashekhara Kambara (ಚಂದ್ರಶೇಖರ ಕಂಬಾರ) (born January 2, 1937) is a prominent poet, playwright, folklorist, film director in Kannada language and the founder-vice-chancellor of Kannada University in Hampi. He is known for his effective usage of North Karnataka dialect of Kannada language in his plays and poems and is often compared with D.R. Bendre. His plays mainly revolves around folk or mythology interlinked with contemporary issues, inculcating modern lifestyle with his hard-hitting poems and has became a pioneer of such literature.
Dr. Kambara has been conferred with many prestigious awards including the Jnanpith Award in 2011 for the year 2010, the Padma Shri by Government of India, Kabir Samman, Kalidas Samman and Pampa Award. He was also nominated as a Member of Legislative Council representing the Indian National Congress.
Chandrashekhara Kambara was born in Ghodageri village in Belagavi district. He was the third son in the family, with brothers Parasappa and Yallappa who still reside in the small house belonging to the Kambara family in the village. From an early age he was interested in folk arts, local culture and ritual.
Popularly known as Shivapur Kambar Masther in his native district, Kambara had his schooling in Gokak and returned to Belagavi for higher education at Lingaraj College. Jagadguru Siddaram Swamiji of Savalagi Matha blessed Kambara and took care of all his primary and high school educational expenses which is the reason why Kambara honours the seer in many of his writings. After his post-graduation, he did his PhD thesis on Uttara Karnatakada Janapad Rangbhumi (The Folk Theatre of North Karnataka) from Karnatak University, Dharwad.
After a brief stint in teaching in the University of Chicago, he taught in Bangalore University for over two decades and was a Fulbright scholar. He served as the chairman of National School of Drama Society, New Delhi from 1996 to 2000 and as the president of Karnataka Nataka Academy from 1980 to 1983. He started using north Karnataka dialect of Kannada in his poems and plays which is not very common in Kannada literature.
Dr. Kambara has to his credit 22 plays, 8 anthologies of poems, 3 novels, 12 research works and several scholarly write-ups on folk theater, literature and education. Some of his popular plays include Aramane, Mahamayi, Singaravva and Harakeya Kuri. He was conferred with the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1991 for another popular play Sirisampige.
He was a pioneer in introducing Bailahongal's famous Sangya Balya (bayalata) and Jokumaraswamy, a traditional ritual of his native district, to the literary world which have seen thousands of performances, not only in Kannada, but several other Indian languages as well. His most recent novel, Shikhar Soorya, is rated among the best Kannada novels.
Besides being a littérateur, Kambara has also been involved in film-making. He has directed a number of movies based on the plays written by him. Karimayi, Sangeeta and Kadu Kudure are some of his major films as a director. He has composed the music for all his movies and the title song of Kaadu Kudure won a National Film Award. He has also adopted his play G.K. Maasthara Pranaya Prasanga for television. Kambara has produced several documentaries for both state and central governments.
Dr. Kambara received the eighth Jnanpith Award for the Kannada language, the highest literary honor conferred in India, in 2011 for the year 2009. The prestigious award which was instituted in 1961, carries a cheque for 7.5 lakh, a citation and a bronze replica of Vagdevi. The Chief Minister of Karnataka, D. V. Sadananda Gowda was among the many dignitaries who wished him on the occasion of receiving this award.