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PL Deshpande biopic will cover unknown aspects about him: Mahesh Manjrekar

Sagar Deshmukh and Iravati Harshe will essay the roles of Marathi writer and humourist PL Deshpande and his wife Sunita, respectively. 

Keyur Seta

Filmmaker Mahesh Manjrekar announced yesterday that actor Sagar Deshmukh would be essaying the important character of Marathi writer and humourist PL Deshpande in the biopic Bhai: Vyakti Ki Valli? Actress Iravati Harshe will essay the role of his wife, Sunita Deshpande.

The announcement of the film and the cast was made at an event in Worli yesterday (11 June), on the eve of PL Deshpande's 18th death anniversary today. He died on 12 June 2000.

Expressing his happiness, Deshmukh said, “I really don’t know what to say. It’s very tough. I am extremely excited to have got this opportunity. I really feel like having some fun [with the character].”

Harshe added, “I am very happy. I would like to specially thank Mahesh [Manjrekar]. This opportunity is big and important. He has put a big responsibility on our shoulders. I am anxious and excited.”

Manjrekar said that the film will cover aspects about Deshpande that are not known. “We know about his literature and social work. But the person behind all this isn’t known to many. Despite not being in politics, he took a political stand against the Emergency. As he didn’t write his biography, a lot of things about him aren’t known to people,” he said.

While researching for the film, the filmmaker was enlightened on some unknown facts about Deshpande. “I came to know a lot of things I didn’t know [before]. For example, I didn’t know he was married twice. I felt more than an author, he was more interesting as a person. By keeping this in mind, I collaborated with Ganesh Matkari [film critic and author] for the screenplay. After the screenplay was done, I realized it could be a very interesting cinema,” added Manjrekar.

P L Deshpande

Speaking about the challenges, Ganesh Matkari said, “Biopic is a difficult genre. It can be handled in different ways. Sometimes we can take a small span from someone’s life or we can even take an entire lifespan. Like Mahesh ji said, Pu La’s life had different aspects. These are all phases. One should connect these phases in a film and at the same time maintain the continuity.”

Noted author, theatre personality and filmmaker Ratnakar Matkari, father of Ganesh, shared an anecdote about his last meeting with Pu La, as he was known fondly. “We were thinking that after doing Vyakti Aani Valli (Deshpande’s story), we shouldn’t straightaway do Asami [another story by him] as it might look like we are trying to encash on his popularity. But Sunita tai asked us, ‘Go ahead with it. He has not been keeping well. He will feel good to watch this play.’ I went to Pune to narrate the play. And this was my last meeting with him,” he said.

Bhai: Vyakti Ki Valli? also stars Sachin Khedekar, Swanand Kirkire (who will play Kumar Gandharva), Padmanabh Bind, Chittaranjan Giri, Ashwini Giri, Pravin Tarade and others.