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

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