Pu La Deshpande – The Darling Of Marathi Audience

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His extraordinary observation and assessment of the society brought humour out of the ordinary situations. Full of wit and humour, his had the ability to connect with the common man. He is amongst the most loved personalities of Maharashtra. Purushottam Lakshman Deshpande, popularly known by his initials “Pu. La.”or as P. L. Deshpande, referred to as Maharashtrache Laadke Vyaktimatva (Maharashtra’s beloved personality) He was not only a writer and a humorist, but also an accomplished singer, harmonium player, theatre actor, music director, orator. A multi talented personality. A prolific writer in all the genres, he has also translated some of the well known English works in Marathi for the Marathi readers. His translation work includes – Kaai Wattel Tey Hoil (Anything Can Happen by Helen and George Papashvily), Eka Koliyane (Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea), Tee Fulrani ( George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion). His love for Rabindranath Tagore and his works brought him to Shantiniketan and learn Bangla. He even translated some of Tagore’s works in Marathi including Chhelebela (Por Vay in Marathi).

He started the trend of Kathakathan and made it famous amongst the Marathi audience. Using his miming skills to the best of the effect, he read out short stories to the audience in a humorous manner. These stories were always based on the characters related to our day to day life. The stage would come alive with his witty mannerisms and fun language. He also wrote travelogues in his unmistakable witty style. These include – Apoorvai, Poorvarang, etc.

But more than the above works of his, he was appreciated and loved for his one-man stage shows. These stage shows were the outcome of his own books. Vyakti Ani Valli, a character sketch of ordinary people we meet in our lives, won him a Sahitya Akademy award. His iconic books, Batyatyachi Chaal and Asa Mi Asami, are about life in Mumbai and specially in chawls.

Apart from giving these literary nuggets, he was also involved into Marathi cinema for quite a few years. Music being his domain there, he has given Marathi audience some of the most memorable songs. He also acted in some of the landmark Marathi films.
Here’s a glance into his songs. Some songs with him on screen and some with him as the music director.

1. Hee Waat Pandharichi (1950) – Watch him play the role of Sant Chokhamela in this devotional film. Music and playback given by Sudhir Phadke.

2. Gulacha Ganpati (1953) – The popular Marathi bhajan rendered in the praise of Lord Vitthal, made eternal by the voice of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, lyrics by G. D. Madgulkar. Music given by Pu La himself, while he also played the lead role in this film. The film became famous as Sab kuch Pu La since everything from direction to music direction was by him, except the lyrics!!

3. Dev Paavla (1950) – This Marathi film again had the duo of Ga Di Ma (G.D. Madgulkar) and Pu La, lyricist and music director respectively. Again a devotional song in the voice of Manik Verma.

4. Dev Bappa (1953) – There might seldom be a Marathi house where this song hasn’t been sung by the children or sung to the children of the house. Rendered by none other than Asha Bhonsle, here’s another gem set to tune by Pu La.

5. Maajhiya Maahera Jaa – Though this isn’t a film song, it belongs to the Bhaavgeet genre. Rendered by Jyotsna Bhole, music by Pu La.

Avid music lover and Dev Anand fan

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