Why Pu La still wins everyone's hearts?

Watch PL Desh-pande's plays, Shatranj Ke Mohre and Varyavarchi Varaat, on the occasion of the Marathi literature stalwart's 91st birth anniversary

The late Purushottam Laxman Deshpande, or Pu La as he is lovingly known, made his debut in the creative field way back in 1948 with the play Tuka Mhane Ata. Over half a century later and more than a decade after his death, Pu La still manages to capture the attention of the masses with his works.

Anand Ingale and Pradip Patwardhan in Varyavarchi Varaat

The author-playwright-actor's 91st birth anniversary was celebrated on November 8. Two of his plays -- Shatranj Ke Mohre and Varyavarchi Varaat -- will be presented at the NCPA as a tribute to the multifaceted artist.

After 40 years, Pu La's Shatranj Ke Mohre is Indian People's Theatre Association's (IPTA) longest running play. Director Ramesh Talwar says, "Initially I used to play the role of a young boy when I was 18. Rakesh Bedi still plays the character of a 22-year-old.

Sometimes he jokingly says that he wants to quit the play because he no longer looks like a 22-year-old!" Talwar believes that the play has many layers to it, waiting to be unravelled. "Though superficially it is a social comedy, the play has under currents of the entire philosophy of Krishna, the Gita and Pu La's own ideas.

Despite performing the play for so long, we still discover new thoughts and ideas expressed by the writer." Talwar adds that the reason that the play continues to run for so many years and draws in a young audience is because it talks about everyday issues of the youth in a humourous way, which appeals to everyone. 

The second play that will be staged as part of the tribute show is one of Pu La's cult Marathi plays -- Varyavarchi Varaat. The play is about Pu La's travels to Konkan and his comment on the changing scenario of the rural life in the country.

The music of this play was also composed by Pu La. Anant Panshikar, the producer of the play, says, "I first saw the play on Doordarshan and never thought that I would be producing the play one day. I even have the original play on my laptop and carry it with me wherever I go."

Panshikar credits the successful revival of this play to veteran theatre artist Shrikant Moghe who had originally acted along with Pu La in the play right from its premiere show. Moghe, who has directed the play is now in his 80s and has specially travelled from Pune to Mumbai to be a part of the play. The play itself is now in its 50th year.

Shatranj Ke Mohre will be staged today at 7 pm; Varyavarchi Varaat will be staged on November 10,
3 pm and 7 pm

At: Experimental Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point.
Call: 22824567

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