In which trupz remembers Pu La Deshpande

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Today started as usual. a quick round-up of the latest news from Alexa while sipping some chai and reading the advertorials in the newspaper. I picked up my phone to check what the latter chatter was on Twitter with Kim Jun Ung and Donald Trump meet up in Singapore, that tweet thread caught my eye. Today, 12th June is the 18th death anniversary of the Pu La Deshpande.

I was immediately taken to my younger years when knew him as the “funny man” in Marathi, and for some reason, my father had loads of tapes of him. It was much much later that I figured out what an icon of Marathi literature he was. Literature, music, acting, orating Pu La Deshpande has many facets to his body of work and one cannot argue that he excelled at all of them.

Many years after my father had passed away, I chanced upon those cassettes and the curiosity to know Pu La Deshpande better led me to read his books. My most favorite of his writings is called “Mhais”. The essay paints a picture of a State transport bus en route to Chiplun in Konkan, Maharashtra and the happenings of the travel journey which are dictated by the ‘Mhais” (buffalo)

The beauty of Pu La Deshpande’s writings is in his unique characterization.  I distinctly remember how he had sketched the “Inspector” from a village arriving 0n the scene in a Jeep etc his mannerisms, how the people would react to the arrival of the Police. The dialogue “Diiiriver kone”, read by Pu La himself in a deep, husky voice has me as one of the people traveling on that bus with all those people. His description of the surrounding and the situation is so vivid that his words make the character and the scene come alive. Another one such essay I absolutely love is “Raosaheb”, or as I like to imagine Raosaheb as a gentle giant, whose innocence and love would melt your heart.

One of the greatest gifts Pu La Deshpande had was the ability to laugh at everyday problems. There was no huge plot or a climax that was revealed at the end, but it was a reassurance that if you take problems not too seriously, they are quite comical and easy to handle. Very few people have this talent, I believe through Pu La Deshpande’s works he intended to pass this on to his audiences.

Years later, when YouTube arrived, I was hooked to watching Pu La Deshpande’s ‘kathakathan’, an equivalent of stand up comedy in those days. The only difference being it was apolitical, devoid of using any expletives with clean content. The audiences also I believe were much tolerant, one of his humorous essays “Mumbaikar, Punekar Ka Nagpurkar?” I’m sure would have rubbed off otherwise in today’s day and age. I’m sure though that if someone would have protested to his views, Pu La would’ve converted that also into some more writing.

While I am writing this, I am listening to “Mi ani mazha shtrupaksha” and am left wondering what Pu La Deshpande would’ve written about the world today? In his birth centenary year, it only seems apt that a biopic commemorating his life is being made by Mahesh Majrekar. One can only hope that he does justice to the marvel that is Pu La Deshpande.

 Pu La Deshpande books and other works I have read: 

  • Marathi Vangmayacha (Galeev) Itihas (मराठी वाङ्‌मयाचा (गाळीव) इतिहास) 
  • Hasavnuk (हसवणूक)
  • Batatyachi Chaal (बटाट्याची चाळ)
  • Khilli (खिल्ली)
  • UralSural (उरलंसुरलं)
  • Purchundi (पुरचुंडी)
  • Vyakti Ani Valli (व्यक्ती आणि वल्ली)
  • Batatyachi Chaal (बटाट्याची चाळ) 
  • Asa Mi Asami (असा मी असामी)
  • Varyawarachi Varaat (वा-यावरची वरात)
  • Ti Fulrani (ती फुलराणी) based on Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw

Pu La Deshpande: Raosaheb

Pu La Deshpande: Mhais

Pu La Deshpande: Mumbaikar, Punekar ka Nagpurkar?

 

Here is also a brilliant Marathi blog “Pu La Prem

In which Trupz reviews An EPIC account of Ramayana

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Book – Ramayana of Valmiki

Original Author – Maharashi Valmiki (Translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith)

Date – Treta Yuga

Available – in various interpretations – ranging from a version of Tulsidas’s Ramcharitmanas to a more modern take on it by various authors.

Those of you who know the characters and plot well, you may jump directly to the Critique

Characters

Dashratha – King of Ayodhya, husband of Kaushalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra, father of Rama, Bharatha, Lakshmana and Shatrughna

Kaushalya – Eldest wife of Dashratha and mother of Prince Rama

Kaikeyi – 2nd wife of Dashratha and mother of Bharata

Sumitra – youngest wife of Dashratha and mother of Lakshmana and Shatrughna

Prince Rama  – Eldest son of Dashratha, main protagonist

Sita – daughter of Janaka, king of Mithila – she is found by him in a hole, wife of Prince Rama

Lakshmana – younger brother of Rama, faithful follower and companion throughout the account

Bharata – younger brother of Rama, mother Kaikeyi’s tricky ways makes him eligible to be King of Ayodhya, but his righteousness gets the better of her jealousy and he remains a loyal first in command till the rightful heir Rama returns to his throne

Shatrughna – youngest brother of Rama

Shurpanakha – Rakshasi, sister of Ravana – the Lanka king

Sugriva – leader of the monkeys

Ravana – King of Lanka

Hanumana – disciple of Rama, his follower and co- warrior

 The Plot

Ramayana is a story told in poem form, by memory (Smruti) about an Indian prince Rama, who is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and his presence on earth in human form was as the prince of Ayodhya. This story revolves around him, his exile from his kingdom, his survival with his wife Sita, and brother Lakshmana in the forests. The core of the account starts with Ravana, the Lanka king treacherously kidnapping Sita. This is because the Rakshasi Shurpanakha, who is Ravanas sister is luring the two brothers, her attempts do not heed and she tries to kill them. Lakshmana in rage cuts off her nose and ears. Rama’s search for his beloved leads him to Kishkinda, where he meets his trusted disciple Hanumana. Together with him, Sugriva and their army of ape soldiers they march to the Lankan lands, literally walking over the sea to recover Sita. A gruesome battle is fought, Ravana succumbs and our conqueror returns home victorious.

 Critique

The story combines of all human attributes all engulfed into a single life, there is jealousy, there is drama, politics, there is love, there is devotion, suffering, war and killing, victory and elation, a bit of science fiction too (monkey people – anyone say Planet of the Apes, in Valmiki times) and modern architecture (built a bridge over water with floating rocks). They have also figured out complex genetics here, since the King Dashratha as the story opens has been childless for several years, but after a  ‘Putra – kameshti Yagya’ and he has 4 sons!! Valmiki, one may concede was well aware of the subtleties of human tendencies and their implications. The temptations we give into, the emotional ball game and how women use it to their advantage, the power game and how one can yield it to manipulate people. In the entire account, there is mention of how those who were eligible for position of power were tricked by those close to them, whether it was Rama, Sugriva or one can even argue Ravana, he banished his brother Vibhishana since he opposed the kidnapping of pious Sita.

Rama the protagonist is the most complex character – he follows the path of ‘dharma’ which means doing the right thing no matter what the consequences are. When his parents ask him to relinquish the throne, he does so to maintain respect of elders. When he sees someone doing wrong, he gives them an opportunity to recover but if they do not, he does not hesitate from even killing them for their deed. For the ones who are closest to him and his most loyal followers, he is willing to go to any extent to protect them. His love for Sita is so true, that he over came all adversities and arduous circumstances to recover her, but his trust in her was as blind as the God of Justice, he abstained her as wife for lack of evidence to prove her sanctity for the time she spent as Ravana’s captive.

The character of Sita is most intriguing, she is found by Janaka, and considered daughter of Mother Earth, her eventual end also is defined as she succumbs into the Earth. She is brought up a warrior princess, pious and revered she follows he husband’s footsteps as he leads her into exile, giving up her princely possessions and living a hand to mouth existence. Even when she is kidnapped she does not give in to her temptations and remains a one man woman, yet her fidelity is challenged by society but she vehemently stands up to their questions, after being exiled by her own husband she raised 2 sons on her own. It could be argued that she started concept of single mother hood back then.

There is every reason for this work to be an EPIC as it is rightly termed so – Valmiki has encapsulated human qualities so vividly in the text, that every man walking face of the Earth is a Rama, or some shade of his, personifying his qualities as a son, a brother, a ruler, a warrior, a lover and a husband and above all as human. His depiction of society and system in those Treta Yuga times, are so relevant even now. We still depend on hero worship, we still want someone else to fight our battles, and we still believe that it will be someone else’s good deeds and sacrifices that will bring peace and harmony to our lives. We still believe (some of us do) it will take God in human form to resolve all evils and vices of the universe while we can only wait and watch for him to appear. Valmiki in his works has  expressed the detailed outline of hurt, anger, pain and suffering of Rama’s life, yet we look at it and seek to get inspiration from this. Had he psycho analyzed our race to be such that feeds on the deplorable situation of others? I have often wondered how many actually empathize with character of Rama? For all that he has endeared through out this entire account of events has been full of deceit, mistrust, suffering and loneliness to some extent. What was the Ramayana then – a glorified account of a family dispute, co scripted with love, war and separation? The best thing about Valmiki’s Ramayana is that it his only work, which has revolved around many human generations and there are many unanswered questions about it, many theories and speculations circulate it. There are the staunch believers and the ardent atheists, but there are few such novella in history of mankind to have generated such interest and for that he does deserve a Nobel!!

Note – the satire in the critique is not intended to offend anyone’s personal or religious views. 

In which How real is reality TV

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From spy cameras, love tests, death defying tasks to becoming a youth icon or throwing yourself around in unmentionable clothes to become a psuedo King or Queen of a TV show. These are some of the things that run as entertainment under the flagship of Reality TV.

I wont be biased I was super excited when Bigg Boss came to India, having seen its counter part Big Brother when I was in UK. Just like the Chinese food we eat in India isnt real Chinese but the Indianised version, the same is true for these  shows as well – they are all Indianized.

Just the other day a random discussion with my friends, and we landed on this topic of Love tests, Taking a revenge on Ex’s and blind dating. Seems like those days are gone when it was quite an achievement for regular people to be part of the audience; to get noticed when the camera panned in on spectators. But now thanks to the advent of new found television segment of Reality TV, everyone has a chance to be a celebrity!!

So you have the young guns, shooting off their mouths of how desperate they are, and how willing to share their personal lives on TV. It was just some years ago that morality police chasing around couples in public places, but now is the time for a new morality police equipped with spy cams and moles planted in plot – to smoke the rat out of the cheating guy or girl. The modus operandi of this one particular show (without giving the name away) is so blue printed. First a wannabe model who lives alone or is in a live in relationship, has a partner who is the suspect, relationship issues (or not), so you plant a mole (undercover agent – yes most of the time you have to be glad that there are some covers), then the dates, usually by the second date – unless one is invited to the apartment of the other (either the agent or the suspect), while all is being recorded or relayed to the other partner via spy cams.

And then the whole masala of bitch – slapping, name calling, abusing etc etc, which would obviously sky rocket the TRPs of the channel as well as celeb status. So that is how the new relationship Tehelka scam works. These guys have been able to salvage lives of so many boys and girls, that they can provide stats for what they show also. But is all for real, thats the real question. If they claim to be out there to clean up the skunk in society and make an eye opener, then why don’t they attack the corrupt politicos, bureaucrats? But I guess with news channels providing enough fodder for that.

Love, relationships and what they stand for are redefined everyday by what is shown on sleaze TV. Most of our music channels have become masala channels, they could very well compete with the fashion channels with the number of models they have parading in and out of their shows. So you have couples willing to put themselves up to be split up. Performing death defying tasks with safety harness, that is only the respectable part any of these shows have, but they are better known for the gossip and back biting that follows.

And what amazes me even more that there are people watching this, that there is an audience for these is the only reason they survive. So are we turning into a generation that finds watching the autopsy of a relationship on TV as entertainment? Do we need youth icons who win TV shows by scheming and plotting as an inspiration? Is this really the influence we need on kids and youngsters who will be our tomorrow?

With soap operas one can atleast argue that it is a story, and not necessarily  true. But can we do the same with these shows. Can anyone say they are scripted. Of course they are, one can argue to some extent, but then is there really a need for such kind of entertainment? If it is scripted then what is real? We walk a very thin line here – soldiers dying on border leaving their families in anguish is REAL, babus and government officials taking advantage of the uneducated citizens is REAL, a women abused by her in laws and husband is REAL!!!

But are we ready to open our eyes to Reality yet or are happy just watching TV!

In which trupz writesAn ODE to MJ

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Ill Be there YouTube video Slow dancing on the tunes of “I’ll be there”, feeling every word of the song…. This has been my favorite song for ever since I can remember. All I had was this cassette with some mixed tracks of Billy Joel, Culture Club and this one by Jackson 5. With no […]