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PL Deshpande's Marathi, Hindi film posters displayed at NFAI event commemorating his birth centenary

A three-day film festival organised by the National Film Archive of India (NFAI), Pune from 18-20 November commemorated Purushottam Laxman Deshpande (aka Pu La Deshpande)'s birth centenary.

Born on 8 November 1919 in Mumbai, Deshpande — over a career spanning almost five decades — was known for a sense of humour that reflected in most of his writings, be it theatrical plays or films. His humanistic approach towards writing made him a favourite among readers and viewers; his works are republished, screened, staged till date and enjoy attention and popularity.

PL Deshpande. YouTube screengrab (Courtesy: Films Division)

PL Deshpande. YouTube screengrab (Courtesy: Films Division)

At NFAI's film festival, a dedicated exhibition showcased 26 select posters of noted Marathi and Hindi films on which Deshpande worked, from Kuber (1947), Vande Mataram (1948), Johar Maibaap (1950), Maisaheb (1953) to Ek Hota Vidushak (1992).

Marathi actor Ashok Saraf inaugurated the event in the presence of Kiran Shantaram and Prakash Magdum, director — NFAI. The film festival was open for all and was organised by NFAI in collaboration with ‘Pu.La.Parivar’ and Aashay Film club.

"Pu La has contributed massively to comedy through his literary and artistic works. I have a treasure trove of books by Pu La at my house. His humour is not direct or literal in terms of narrative; it is more about reading between the lines.  Pu La is my God, and his literature is my panacea for all life's troubles," said Saraf at the event.

"This event is a beautiful tribute to the genius artist who ventured into almost every field of performing arts. We plan to take the exhibition to various parts of Maharashtra in the coming year," said Magdum, adding, "The centenary year is also a good opportunity to trace his lost films and other material. We appeal to the general public to come forward and help the NFAI so that it can be preserved for future generations."

One of the special attractions of the exhibition will be the display of the original hand-written copy of the script of Pu La’s cult classic Gulacha Ganpati, which was provided to NFAI in 2015 by the family members of Rajguru, the producer of the film.

Here are the 26 posters that were put up on display at the festival:

Posters of Kuber and Vande Mataram. All images provided by the National Films Archive of India (NFAI).

Posters of Kuber and Vande Mataram.

Kuber
Language - Marathi
Year of release - 1947
Director - MG Rangnekar

A film made with the help of artistes from the drama troupe Natyaniketan. Deshpande plays the role of a spoilt, rich young lad immersed in singing and dancing who matures into a responsible adult in his debut film. The song 'Ja Ja Ga Sakhi' sung by Deshpande became immensely popular.

Vande Mataram
Language - Marathi
Year of release - 1948
Director - Ram Gabale

This is the first film where the trinity of PL Deshpande, GD Madgulkar and Sudhir Phadke came together. Based on the freedom struggle and Quit India Movement of 1942, Vande Mataram features PL Deshpande and Sunita Deshpande in the lead roles. The film highlights the contribution of an unknown freedom fighter who hailed from the village of Sonsali located in the Shirali taluka. This film includes the evergreen song 'Ved Mantrahun Aamha'.

Posters of Bhagyarekha and Jaga Bhadyane Dene Aahe.

Posters of Bhagyarekha and Jaga Bhadyane Dene Aahe.

Bhagyarekha
Language - Marathi
Year of release - 1948
Director - Shantaram Athavale

Based on a novel by Narayan Hari Apte, Bhagyarekha features Shanta Apte and Baburao Pendharkar in the lead roles. PL Deshpande plays the role of the younger brother to Apte. The film propagates Gandhian ideals and refers to the tumultuous period of Quit India agitations.

Jaga Bhadyane Dene Aahe
Language - Marathi
Year of release - 1949
Director - Achyut Ranade

Deshpande has written the screenplay and dialogues of the film. The film, with Shanta Apte in the lead role and supported by Sunita Deshpande, deals with the acute problem of housing in urban areas.

Posters of Manacha Paan and Mothi Manse.

Posters of Manacha Paan and Mothi Manse.

Manacha Paan
Language - Marathi
Year of release - 1949
Director - AR Sheikh

The film revolves around the wrestling tradition and culture in Maharashtra. Based on the life of a wrestler, Deshpande has written the screenplay and dialogues in collaboration with GD Madgulkar. The village headman and a wrestling champion come together due to a bet waged by the two. In addition to writing, Deshpande has also composed the music for this film.

Mothi Manse
Language - Marathi
Year of release - 1949
Director - Ram Gabale

The film is based on Gandhian principles. This is the first film of PL Deshpande as a music director; he has composed 12 songs all penned by GD Madgulkar and that established the famous PL-GD duo. Mothi Manse depicts the progressive-minded Aaba Patil's efforts to calm down social unrest which was triggered by the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

Posters of Gokulcha Raja and Dev Pavla.

Posters of Gokulcha Raja and Dev Pavla.

Gokulcha Raja
Language - Marathi
Year of release - 1950
Director - Bal Gajbar

Deshpande has written the story, screenplay, dialogues and lyrics for this mythological film. The film recounts divine miracles of child-Krishna.

Dev Pavla
Language - Marathi
Year of release - 1950
Director - Ram Gabale

Deshpande composed music for this comedy. The devotional song 'Kabirache Vinato Shele', whose lyrics were penned by Madgulkar, is remembered even today. It is the story of a simple man's undying faith in God.

Posters of Jara Japoon and Johaar Maybaap.

Posters of Jara Japoon and Johar Maibaap.

Jara Japoon
Language - Marathi
Year of release - 1950
Director - Raja Paranjpe

This film chronicled a couple which discovers the realities and bliss of marital togetherness. Shanta Apte, Rajan and Keshavrao Date are seen in lead roles. Deshpande wrote the screenplay for the film.

Johar Maibaap
Language - Marathi
Year of release - 1950
Director - Ram Gabale

The trio of PL Deshpande, GD Madgulkar and Sudhir Phadke came together in this devotional film which is based on a story written by Vyankatesh Madgulkar. Deshpande essayed the title role of Saint Chokhamela with ease. Interestingly, this film was released in 1971 under the title of Hi Vaat Pandharichi. NFAI has restored this film.

Posters of Kalyan Khajina and Navara Baiko.

Posters of Kalyan Khajina and Navara Baiko.

Kalyan Khajina
Language - Marathi
Year of release - 1950
Director - DS Ambapkar

Deshpande collaborated with Madgulkar to write the story, screenplay and dialogues for this historical film. Poornima, the famous star from the Hindi film industry played her first role in Marathi cinema. One of the highlights of the film was an episode narrating the greatness of Emperor Shivaji where the daughter-in-law of the Muslim Subedar of Kalyan was treated royally and sent back to her home with pride and honour.

Navara Baiko
Language - Marathi
Year of release - 1950
Director - Bal Gajbar

Deshpande has written the story, screenplay and dialogues for this comedy. He has also composed the music for this film. A story of a happy couple who tackle a life-changing event.

Posters of Var Pahije and Pudhache Paool.

Posters of Var Pahije and Pudhache Paool.

Var Pahije
Language - Marathi
Year of release - 1950
Director - Achyut Ranade

Deshpande wrote the screenplay and composed music for the film where Snehaprabha Pradhan plays the lead role. The story revolves around the senseless bickerings of a couple.

Pudhache Paool
Language - Marathi
Year of release - 1950
Director - Raja Paranjpe

Based on a story on migration to cities by Vyankatesh Madgulkar, the trio of Madgulkar, Phadke and Deshpande come together in this film. In the film, Deshpande also featured convincingly in the role of a villager aspiring to earn money in the city and reinvest it in agriculture. He plays the dholki in a Tamasha troupe and falls in love with the dancer. Hansa Wadkar, GD Madgulkar, Raja Paranjpe and Vivek were seen in supporting roles.

Posters of Ghardhani and Doodh Bhaat.

Posters of Ghardhani and Doodh Bhaat.

Ghardhani
Language - Marathi
Year of release - 1952
Director - Ram Gabale

Based on a Namdev Vhatkar story, Deshpande wrote the screenplay, dialogues, lyrics and also composed music for this social film. The film revolves around two close friends and how misunderstanding and jealousy creep in and disturb their life and relationship.

Doodh Bhaat
Language - Marathi
Year of release - 1952
Director - Ram Gabale

The story, screenplay, dialogues, song lyrics are penned by Deshpande. He also composed the music for this social film. The song 'Sukatachi Jagi Ya' from the play Sanyasta Khadga written by VD Savarkar was included in this film after seeking special permission.

Posters of Sandesh and Vithalpayee.

Posters of Sandesh and Vithalpayee.

Sandesh
Language - Marathi
Year of release - 1952
Director - Bal Gajbar

The screenplay and dialogues are written by Deshpande and Mir Asgar Ali. Durga Khote and Umesh Sharma play the lead roles. It is the story of a doctor and his mission.

Vithalpayee
Language - Marathi
Year of release - 1953
Director - AR Sheikh

Deshpande composed the music for this devotional film. The songs became popular due to Malati Pande's playback singing. It is the story of Niloba, the saintly landlord who follows the path of righteousness.

Posters of Mahatma and Maisaheb.

Posters of Mahatma and Maisaheb.

Mahatma
Language - Hindi/Marathi/English
Year of release - 1953
Director - Datta Dharmadhikari

Based on a story written by PL Deshpande, this is the only Marathi social film which was simultaneously made in three languages. Dharmadhikari's ambitious project starred Gajanan Jagirdar, Raja Gosavi, David and Rekha. It is the story of the Gandhian Shivba who has to pay a heavy price for his honesty.

Maisaheb
Language - Marathi
Year of release - 1953
Director - KP Bhave

Deshpande has written the screenplay, dialogues & lyrics for this social film, in addition to composing music for it. Sumati Gupte, Keshavrao Date and Dhumal feature in lead roles. The film depicts the mental turmoil of a young boy when his father remarries.

Posters of Gulancha Ganapati and Devbappa.

Posters of Gulacha Ganapati and Devbappa.

Gulacha Ganapati
Language - Marathi
Year of release - 1953
Director - PL Deshpande

Deshpande has written the story, screenplay, dialogues, composed music and also directed and acted in this film. He plays the role of Naru, a straight-forward simple dreamer. Deshpande took a
long hiatus from filmmaking after this venture. GD Madgulkar wrote the lyrics of the evergreen devotional song 'Indrayanichya Kathi' which was rendered by Bharat Ratna Pt Bhimsen Joshi. This
film has been restored by NFAI.

Devbappa
Language - Marathi
Year of release - 1953
Director - Ram Gabale

PL Deshpande has contributed immensely by writing the screenplay, dialogues, lyrics and composing music for this film. The song 'Naach Re Mora' sung by Asha Bhonsle is popular to this day. The film depicted a touching tale of an innocent girl who finds motherly love in the deity she worships. Interestingly, a short film Nave Birhad starring Damunna Malwankar with Deshpande's voiceover narration used to be screened along with this film.

Posters of Ammaldar and Phool Aur Kaliyan.

Posters of Ammaldar and Phool Aur Kaliyan.

Ammaldar
Language - Marathi
Year of release - 1953
Director - K Narayan Kale

Deshpande had translated Nikolai Gogol's satirical play Inspector General in Marathi titled Ammaldar. He along with Madgulkar wrote the screenplay based on this Marathi play. Deshpande not only composed the music for this film but also played the main role supported by Madgulkar and PM Bhave. It is a critique on the rampant corruption in newly Independent India.

Phool Aur Kaliyan
Language - Hindi
Year of release - 1960
Director - Ram Gabale

Based on PL Deshpande's story, V Shantaram produced this children's film under the banner of Rajkamal Kala Mandir. This is the first children's film which won the National Award for Best Story.

Posters of Aaj aur Kal and Ek Hota Vidushak.

Posters of Aaj Aur Kal and Ek Hota Vidushak.

Aaj Aur Kal
Language - Hindi
Year of release - 1963
Director - Vasant Joglekar

Based on Deshpande play Sundar Mi Honar, this film stars Ashok Kumar, Nanda and Sunil Dutt in the lead roles. The songs were written by Sahir Ludhianvi and composed by Ravi became very popular. This romantic tale is set against the backdrop of the merger of a princely state in independent India.

Ek Hota Vidushak
Language - Hindi
Year of release - 1992
Director - Jabbar Patel

Deshpande wrote the dialogues and screenplay for this social film. It is a tragic tale of a comedian who was born as a songadya (a folk theatre artist) in a Tamasha troupe. Lakshmikant Berde plays the lead role. The film won two National Awards in 1992 for Best Feature Film in Marathi and Best Choreography for Laxmibai Kolhapurkar. This is PL Deshpande's last feature film; he breathed his last on 12 June 2000 in Pune. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and the related complications resulted in his death at the age of 80.

All images and film captions provided by the National Film Archive of India (NFAI), Pune with some minor editing done by Firstpost.


Updated Date: Nov 21, 2018 19:20 PM

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