Write like PuLa Deshpande
A digital firm from Pune has created a free font to celebrate the work of genius PL Deshpande, whose handwriting said something about the speed of this thoughts
Around 15 years ago, singer and music composer Gandhaar Sangoram lost his grandfather. A music critic and writer, he left behind a bunch of old letters that turned into a treasure for him. "When I started to read them, I could sense my grandfather's presence around me. It was as if he was standing right there. And I realised much of it had to do with the fact that they were handwritten. Handwriting is like a fingerprint; you cannot replicate it," he says. A few years later, the thought led him to create a font, in memory of a different inspirational figure who shaped his childhood—Purushottam Laxman (Pu La) Deshpande.
Sangoram, now 30, has created and launched a font to commemorate the birth centenary year of Pu La, one of the greatest icons of Marathi culture. Titled simply PuLa 100, the font is a digital replica of the legendary author's handwriting and will let patrons experience what they write in their favourite humourist's penmanship. "Four years ago, I started Be Birbal Digital Media Pvt Ltd., when my career in composing was going well. The idea came to me when I, along with some Marathi actors, was staging a play. We thought of creating something fun on social media, and started a hashtag, which got 13 lakh hits. Even after starting my agency, doing something for Pu La was always on the cards," Sangoram says.
After 18 months of toil, he created the font. "The challenge in creating the font came from the overwhelming responsibility of doing anything involving Pu La, who has a personal bond with every Maharashtrian in the world. While I went to an English-medium school, I grew up in a home where Marathi literature was respected and everyone read his books."
Gandhaar Sangoram says the font, PuLa 100, will allow patrons to experience what they write, in their favourite humourist’s penmanship
But, to capture the essence of the author's handwriting in digital form was challenging. First, it began as an in-house exercise with sampling data based on letters he had written, which were procured from the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune, with whom the copyright to all his works rests. Later, font expert Kimya Gandhi was brought on board to make the dream a reality.
Sangoram says that he had heard that Pu La's handwriting had a flow, which was derived from the speed of his thought. "Every curve of every letter is a visual testament to a hand trying to keep up with the mind. To be able to pay respect to a personality like Pu La in this way, is an honour."
But replicating a Devanagari font is always challenging, because Sangoram says, it's more complicated then Roman fonts. "The Devanagari script is composed of 47 primary characters, including 14 vowels and 33 consonants. But now that we are through, I believe I could not have given a better tribute to him. To take the physicality and tangibility of something as personal as handwriting, and making it digital but authentic is to immortalise the essence of the person."
The font will be available for free download on www.bebirbal.in/pula100
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