Maharashtra’s contribution ton Indian culture is huge. Only Bengal can comepete with maharashtra when it comes to contribution to Indian art and culture. May it be films, theater, poetry or music Maharashtra has given us the best.
I have grown up reading Marathi literature. Believe me there were just too many of great authors in this language. It will be difficult to say who is the best, one thing is certain, if we are to decide the best author Pu La Deshpande just cant be ignored. His complete name was Purushottam Laxman Deshapande.
He was a author more known for his humorous writing.But he was also a poet, a great musician,actor,director,script writer and Cartoonist. He had written many plays and successfully brought them on stage. he had traveled around the glob and wrote travel logs as well.
His power of observation was exceptional. He caught the funny moments in everyday life and put before us. Most of his writing surrounded near the life of a common man. While he exposed the ironies of life in a funny manner, we could also feel the tragedies underneath. In his book ‘asami asami’ he depicted the life of a ordinary middle class man. It was kind of a biography. It showed life in the perspective of the man who is just too ordinary. He was born before independence and managed to get into clerical job just the way everybody did at that time. No one including his wife gave him any praise. Nor did he expect it from any one. His entire life passes in handling the common day to day problems such as running away from donation seekers, getting neighbors news paper, the regular fights in the ‘Chauls’.
Once his spiritually oriented clerk friend takes him to a Baba. The description is hilarious. Our protagonist ( i have purposly not used the word hero because he is too ordinary person for that word) goes there and sits in front of the baba. Baba open his eyes and looks at him and then he say “who are you?” our protagonist tries to frame and English sentence in his mind as a reply but then baba continues “who is the you in the me of you of the god of the me in you” and he realizes that Baba is giving a lecture. In his narration of the whole episode he is not only generating humor but also exposes the god fearing attitude of the high class society who join such Baba’s only for glamor or for fake peace of mind. Then Baba orders ‘Dyaanam’ everyone closes their eyes. In between our protagonist opens his eyes to notice that baba is actually staring at a beautiful girl among them. He convinces himself thinking that Baba must be looking at her in spiritual eyes .
He is not part of anything. Even the freedom struggle movement. Whichever speech he attends he gets fully convinced with it so he stops attending the same. He is happy that India is free only because he gets promotion is company. The company is taken over by a Shethaji. On this he comments that after the Angrez went their company became more Angrez than before. From Chaul he moves to a Flat. He is made president of the local Badminton Club only because he doesnt play the game and hence he will not occupy the court. His wife who was so orthodox before now applies modern cosmetics but he admits that she does look good after using it. His children have no hesitation in proving their father wrong but then he does admit that the times have changed.
Pu La Deshpande’s other most famous book was “Vyakti and Valli’ Meaning ‘persons and personalities’. It contained character sketches of 20 people. The way author writes about the finer aspects of their personalities proves his skills of observations. After reading all those 20 people it seems as if they are part of you. You feel as if you have met em before. There is one character called Natha Kamat with great personality. His name was connected with every beautiful girl in the class. Every even he participated in, he emerged as a winner. He never tasted failure but longged for a girl who married a Major in Army and then comitted suicide. Antu Barva was a old man in Ratnagiri village. His son was collector somewhere but dint look after him. Antu spent his life in that village without any regrets. Antu talks about gandhiji. “you know why gandhi dint come to Ratnagiri? Because everyone here is poor here and wears just a ‘Pancha’ like him. No one here will find anything great in his simplicity”
Pu La Deshpande did had his own opinion about everything. But when he wrote, his characters were never prejudiced by his personal opinions. He respected gandhi and vinoba bhave but then his characters at many occasions criticized them. He himself was an atheist but never ridiculed the god believers. He perfectly understands the feelings of the temple goers.
I liked his travel log of his trip to far eastern countries. When he goes to the travel agency the girl their is busy applying lipstick to her lips. She cant find Indonesia on the Glob and the author has to help her. When he keeps his finger on a country 4 other tiny countries get covered under it.
The travel agents finally goofs up and he has to leave a day early. His friends in hurry bring a garland for him to see off. The garlend happens to be one supposed to be put for photo frame on the wall and doesn’t go down his neck. The king of Malesiya too is on the same boat and author tries everything to make friendship with him.
He visists Japan and writes in detail about the people, language and culture. He visits some local plays and realizes how bad we Indians are in conserving our own culture. He visits a suicide point and notices the disappointment on the face of their guide who tells them that these days not many people are committing suicide from that point.
Pu La visits the Gayesha’s and Sumarai’s places. After reading the books you end up knowing a lot mroe about these countries and their culture. You almost feel as if you have been there.
“maharashtrache ladke vyaktimatvaa” is the phrase used for him but now a days it has lost meaning because it is used by tha chamachas of the political leaders for describing their leader.
There is an instrument called “divider” in pencilbox. It did nothing except dividing me and mathematics.
-P. L. Deshpande, Bigari te Matric