Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pu La and Sunita Deshpande...people who transformed me..

Purushottam Lakshman Deshpande (fondly known as PuLa, पु in Maharashtra) and Sunita Deshpande, was a couple who had huge influence on my thinking and many other aspects of my life. I don't have to introduce these two personalities to people who come from state of Maharashtra in India, these two or at least PuLa is a household name in Maharashtra, especially in a city of Pune where I was born and raised.

My parents never used to speak Marathi in our home during my childhood, they immigrated to Pune from small village in UP (Uttar Pradesh) where I was born and spent my entire life before moving to US, I studied in Marathi medium school and lived in Marathi speaking neighborhood and this is why Marathi became my mother tongue, I used to think and talk mostly in Marathi for first 30 years of my life. My school and our neighbors introduced me to rich cultural side of Maharashtra and that's how I came to know these two amazing personalities. PuLa's books and his 'katha kathan' (which simply means story telling, in his case he used to read some chapters from his books) are very popular among Marathi speaking people and are full of humor and at the same time comment about various aspects of life in very subtle way. Characters which he portrayed in his stories, books and plays are very real and leave strong impact on readers. He was also a great actor, narrator and musician, I think very few people have such a diverse talent. I still enjoy his books, listen to his audio and video clips and enjoy them as much I enjoyed them before, I think they are timeless and have capacity to entertain and educate number of coming generations of Marathi speaking people. He didn't believe in conventional definition of religion or god but his personal beliefs never ever reflected directly in any of his writings, anyone can easily relate with characters from his books, they are so human and real that people feel he is talking about them and their life when they listen to him or read his books, I guess this is the main reason for his huge popularity.

I read Sunita Deshpande's book "Aahe Manohar Tari" (आहे मनोहर तरी..) much later, after reading many books by PuLa, initially I read it because it was written by PuLa's wife, but when I read it I was totally surprised, it left me stunned, actually I was completely blown away, till now I must have read it multiple times. I don't think anyone expected such book from PuLa's wife. It was totally different, something which I never read before, PuLa is known for humor, he had knack of finding humorous side of any situation in life, but this book was very serious and up to the point and brutally honest, actually the book is about her memoirs, she is very clear and straightforward about her opinions not only about herself but also about other people in her life. She didn't try to hide that she is an atheist and really proud of that, which many people hesitate to do just not to hurt people or in fear of losing fans. She also made very honest comments about her own personality and her behavior under different circumstances, she also discussed about her own strengths and weaknesses, I never read such a honest self assessment before in my life, she also wrote some critical comments about her much celebrated and adored husband. As expected this book created some controversy and also received some criticism from readers including many PuLa's fans, they all thought she was wrong in criticizing him for being lazy or for being a typical husband who expects his wife to take care of him and his home, after all he was such a popular and beloved author of Maharashtra and as a gifted artist, as a husband, a talented person he deserved some special treatment. PuLa was her biggest supporter against all this criticism when this book came out and defended her right to express her views, not that she needed his support but it was nice to see such mutual understanding between the couple. I was amazed to read about such a brave and bold women who was much ahead of her time in thinking. Her approach towards life was also very unique and impressed me a lot. She managed to live her own life, pursue her own interests and hobbies without getting affected by success and popularity of her celebrity husband. She narrated almost every major incident of her life with so much honesty without worrying about reactions of her husband, his fans or other readers, whether it was about her thoughts about euthanasia when her mother was suffering in hospital, her pregnancy and abortion, her thoughts about God, about some qualities of her husband which she didn't like, the book also contains many other interesting incidents in her life, it will be very difficult for me to summarize entire book in this post, I would like my readers to read the book if possible. When I finished the book I was not the same person which I was before reading that book, such was the impact of that book on me. I don't claim that it will have same impact on everyone who reads it, may be there will be some who may not like that book, but it transformed me, helped me in many ways. I hope everyone finds at least one such book in their life.

Actually these two people helped me in many ways indirectly, these were only people who were not related with me or my field of study and I didn't meet personally but I still acknowledged them in my PhD thesis, such was their influence on me. They still remain huge source for inspiration for me but I don't worship them or don't follow them blindly, I totally understand that there might be many people who don't care about them or may be even dislike or hate them for whatever reason they have and I totally understand this, I have my own opinions about them and others can have their own and it's not necessary that everyone's opinion should always match with mine, this what I believe. I am thankful for both of them for transforming me, because in a kind of situation or neighborhood I was living it was highly impossible for me to meet with people like them but I was lucky to know them through their books, that's also one of the reason why I believe that books or blogs are such a powerful medium which have power of transforming people. I get lot of inspiration and strength from many books and articles which I read almost every day, they teach me and transform me in many ways, this is such a powerful medium and these two people played very pivotal role in starting this amazing journey for me. Thank you sir, thanks mam, love you both.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic. 

[Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing] 

(image: from Google images)



  1. I had heard about 'Aahe Manohar Tari' for many years now but did not know what it was all about. Initially, I presumed this book to be a novel and since novels are usually not my cup of tea, reading this book got postponed. Pu La is of course well-known in the Marathi literature word. I had also known about Sunita Deshpande as his wife. But I did not know that the author of this book is the same Sunita Deshpande.

    Anyways, your post has made me excited enough to lay my hands on this one at the earliest.


    1. I am sure you will like that book, it had huge impact on me as it opened so many doors for me when I was struggling to find my own identity...I don't expect that it will have same effect on everyone but let me know your opinion about the book. Thanks