ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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P L Deshpande, 1919-2000

Man's achievement, a line in Mahabharata says, cannot be greater than destiny. With a writer such as P L Deshpande, most Maharashtrians would argue, one sees an achievement larger than destiny.

He was 82, suffering from an incurable disease. His demise was only a matter of time. Yet it is also true that most Maharashtrians thought that he was immortal. Pu La (his Marathi initials) as he was affectionately known by millions of readers and theatre-goers and music-lovers was always taken to be anadi and ananta (without a beginning and without an end). Not many would have known when and where he was born. Not many would believe that he could ever die. But there it is. He is no more. Ahe apariharya tari gamate udas (one knows it is inevitable but there is no escape from sorrow), to use a famous line with one change.

Indeed, what was he? A humourist, a playwright, a movie-director, an actor, director, a performer, a critic, a harmonium-player, a man with an impeccable taste in fish, a man with a no less impeccable taste in music, or all of these? In the tenth canto of the Bhagvad Gita, the lord describes himself in various forms: he is Arjun among the Pandavas, Ushana among the poets and so on. The canto is called ‘Vibhuti Yoga’ (an adhyaya narrating his forms, vibhutis). It would take a similar canto to describe PL’s various ‘avataras’ – a near impossible job.

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