Noted playwright Girish Karnad delivered a stinging attack on VS Naipaul for his views on Muslims in India, calling the Nobel Laureate "tone deaf" and an "unreliable" writer of non-fiction as far as this country is concerned.
Karnad, who criticised Naipaul on Friday during a session on theatre at the "Literature Live!" literature festival in Mumbai, on Saturday stood by his remarks and ruled out any apology to the India-born writer.
"I completely stand by my statement. I haven't made any mistake, rather I came prepared for it," Karnad said, as his remarks shocked the organisers of the Festival.
"Naipaul has no idea of how Muslims contributed to Indian history," Karnad said in his address during which he also attacked Naipaul for his reported visit to BJP office after Babri mosque demolition in December 1992.
Dwelling on Naipaul's anti-Islam stance in his writing, Karnad said, "Given that music defines our daily existence... you find it in the streets, in the restaurants and so on... you would expect an exploration of India to comment on that.
Now Mr Naipaul has written three books on India. If you read them, you find that not even one of them contains any reference to music. He has gone through the whole of India without responding to Indian music. I think that only means that he is tone deaf."
Naipaul, who was given the Lifetime Achievement Award at the festival, was not present when Karnad made the remarks before a small audience which included actor Naseeruddin Shah.
Karnad also questioned the decision of the Festival organisers to honour Naipaul with the award.
Calling Naipaul an unreliable writer of non-fiction as far as India is concerned, he said, "He really doesn’t pay much attention to the details of the texts he studies."
Reacting to Karnad's remarks, festival director Anil Dharker said, "We were all taken aback by Girish Karnad's attack on VS Naipaul. After all, we had invited him (Karnad) to speak about his journey in theatre...
"I am all for free speech but free speech presupposes a dialogue, not a diatribe. Karnad's two objections to Naipaul getting the award are demonstrably false," Dharker said in a statement.