Eminent Marathi author, screenwriter, musician, singer and actor, Padma Bhushan PL Deshpande, popularly known as Pu La Deshpande or simply 'Pu La', was born on 8 November 1919 as Purushottam Laxman Deshpande in Mumbai. The year 2019 marks the 101st birth anniversary of Pu La Deshpande. To celebrate it, the National Film Archive of India (NFAI) in Pune has organised a special programme for discerning fans.
At 5 pm on Saturday, November 9, the NFAI will screen rare footage of Pu La Deshpande playing harmonium. The film archive body will also screen specially acquired and restored footage from PL Deshpande's Marathi film 'Vande Mataram' (1948), directed by Ram Gabale and starring Pu La. The special screenings will be held at the NFAI's Law College Road outfit in Pune and is open for all.
Pu La Deshpande is a much revered personality and is part of the heart and soul of Maharashtra's culture. But he captured attention nationally with his writing, his oratory skills and his unmatched sense of humour.
The celebrated artiste was, in fact, instrumental in establishing Doordarshan's first television station in New Delhi. Pu La Deshpande is credited as the first person to have interviewed Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister, on Indian television. He also trained with the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) and also lived in France and the then West Germany.
Pu La's books like 'Batatyachi Chal' and many others are still bestsellers, translated into English and Kannada. His video footage is watched across platforms even today.
PL Deshpande was honoured with the Padma Bhushan in 1990, the Padma Shri in 1966, and the Maharashtra Bhushan Award in 1996, among many other prestigious awards and decorations.
In January 2019, a film on PL Deshpande titled 'Bhai - Vyakti Ki Valli' released in theatres. Directed by celebrated filmmaker-actor Mahesh Manjrekar, the film received a positive response from the audiences. Earlier, there have been documentaries made on the much loved artiste and writer from Maharashtra.
Pu La Deshpande passed away on 12 June 2000 in Pune at 80 years of age due to Parkinson's disease. Here's a documentary of 'Pu La' you can watch in remembrance on his birth anniversary.
Photo courtesy: NFAI Pune.