Google celebrated the 101st birth anniversary of Purushottam Laxman Deshpande – better known as Pu La Deshpande – with a doodle designed by the noted Mumbai-based artist Sameer Kulavoor. The doodle depicts the legendary Indian writer, playwright, musician, composer, actor, director, and philanthropist with his harmonium, as he raises his free hand to underscore a note. He was often referred to as “Maharashtra’s beloved personality”. The statement accompanying Kulavoor’s Google Doodle observes: “Renowned for his signature style of joyful humor and satire, Deshpande brought smiles to the faces of countless readers and audiences with his multifaceted contributions to Marathi literature and the performing arts… Happy birthday, PL Deshpande, and thank you for sharing your humor and harmony with the people of Maharashtra and beyond.”
Purushottam Laxman Deshpande, or Pu La Deshpande, was born in Mumbai on 8 November 1919. His family had an illustrious literary legacy: Pu La’s grandfather had translated Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali into Marathi. He was known to be a sharp observer of life, and one can see that in his literary work. Deshpande’s works have been translated into several languages including English and Kannada. The biography accompanying Pu La’s Google Doodle traces his time from earning a Masters’ degree, to working as a college lecturer before switching to a career in music. Pu La Deshpande was proficient Hindustani classical musician. He went on to gain fame as author, screenplay writer, actor, director, music director and singer. During his lifetime he also participated in several philanthropist activities.
Pu La’s writing spanned various formats — from novels and essays to plays and one-man stage shows. He also acted in, and directed, several films. In 2018, the National Film Archive of India organised an exhibition of his Hindi and Marathi film posters in the run-up to the centenary of his birth. The exhibition also included the original, handwritten copy of the script for Pu La’s cult classic Gulacha Ganpati, provided to NFAI in 2015 by the family members of Rajguru, the film’s producer. Deshpande died in Pune, Maharashtra on 12 June 2000 due to complications from Parkinson’s disease. He was aged 80. A large public park on Sinhgad Road in his adopted home town, Pune, was named after him in commemoration.