Pu La had once said that the three most loved personalities in Maharashtra are Shivaji Maharaj, Lokmanya Tilak and Balgandharva. I will add Pu La to that list.
Many of his great classics are available in audio/video formats, and two generations of Marathi Speakers got introduced to him and fell in love with him because of the audio/video media. My first introduction to Pu La was listening to ‘Mhais’, when I was 7-8 years old…many years before I got to the ‘Vyakti Ani Valli’ book.
Recently, I came across a recording set of some of his speeches from 1970s and 80s. Till date, these are the best Pu La recordings I have listened to! The reason why I say this is that, these speeches give a great insight into Pu La as a person. Glimpses of his thoughts are available throughout his famous works, but his speeches convey his ideas, his beliefs, his passion, in a much sharper and clearer fashion.
His respect and intense love of music and arts, his views on blind faith and religion, his love for all languages (not just Marathi), his genuine appreciation of new talent, his irreverent views on politics, his mentoring, his flexibility in moving on with new times and technologies, his views on philanthropy…it is a long list.
I will highly recommend all Pu La fans to listen to these speeches. Some of them are available in a CD Collection (‘Bahu Rupi Pu La Deshpande’)..available in book stores and online. This set includes 7-8 speeches: Brihan Maharashtra Mandal New Jersey 1987 Keynote, Felicitating the Cast & Crew of the Play ‘Vastraharan’ on the occasion of their 175th performance, His talk at the publication of the translation of some of his works in Kannada, and some others.
I was also able find one of his speeches on YouTube (see link above). It is an amazing speech that he delivered at the 74th birthday of renowned music teacher Prof B.R. Deodhar. (Note, Prof Deodhar studied under Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar, and his disciples included Kumar Gandharva).
Let me leave you with one of Pu La’s great quotes:
“आयुष्यात मला भावलेलं एक गुज सांगतो. उपजिविकेसाठी आवश्यक असणाऱ्या विषयाचं शिक्षण जरुर घ्या. पोटापाण्याचा उद्योग जिद्दीनं करा, पण एवढ्यावरच थांबू नका. साहित्य, चित्र, संगीत, नाट्य, शिल्प, खेळ ह्यांतल्या एखाद्या तरी कलेशी मैत्री जमवा. पोटापाण्याचा उद्योग तुम्हाला जगवील, पण कलेशी जमलेली मैत्री तुम्ही का जगायचं हे सांगून जाईल. – पु. ल. ”