Google on Sunday celebrated the 101st birthday of legendary Indian writer, playwright, musician, composer, actor, director, and philanthropist, Purushottam Laxman Deshpande, widely known by his Marathi initials “Pu La", with an endearing doodle. The illustration was created by Mumbai-based guest artist Sameer Kulavoor.
Born in erstwhile Bombay on this day in 1919, Deshpande, who was famous for his signature style of joyful humor and satire, brought smiles to the faces of countless readers. He mesmerised his audience with his multifaceted work in Marathi literature and the performing arts.
He earned a master’s degree and served as a college lecturer before he began to pursue a career in music. A master of the harmonium (also known as the reed organ), he played as an accompanist for acclaimed vocal artists of the day and released his own hit recordings as well. But music was far from Deshpande’s only creative talent, and in the late 1940s, his writing premiered in Bombay magazine.
Throughout a long and varied career, Deshpande produced a prolific collection of writing which included novels, essays, comedy books, travelogues, children’s plays, and one-man stage shows—much of which saw massive popularity, particularly in his home state of Maharashtra. In addition, Deshpande acted in dozens of films, many of which he directed himself.
In the 1990s, Deshpande and his wife established a philanthropic foundation in his name which in the years since has carried on his positive legacy through the promotion of a variety of social and cultural causes.
Happy birthday, P. L. Deshpande, and thank you for sharing your humor and harmony with the people of Maharashtra and beyond.