Playwright & scholar,Deshpande leaves a void in the world of theatre

As a playwright and critic,he had created a distinct and formidable identity in the field of theatre and drama. He was also an acclaimed political science faculty at the Centre for East Asian Studies,JNU,New Delhi

Written by Express News Service | Pune | Published:October 18, 2013 3:02 am

Marathi playwright and noted political and economic analyst G P Deshpande,75,died here on Wednesday. He was hospitalised a few weeks ago following a brain hemorrhage. After remaining in coma,he was recently shifted to his home where he breathed his last,family members said.

Popularly known as GoPu or GPD,Deshpande was known for his plays that were fresh in ideas. Udhwastha Dharamshala,Andharyatra and Satyashodhak are among his critically acclaimed plays. He was the first to experiment with ‘discussion plays’ through his works. Most of the plays were penned in Marathi and later translated to English and other languages.

Deshpande was part of the team of scriptwriters who worked for Hindi TV serial Bharat Ek Khoj. He also wrote scripts for others serials based on Arya Chanakya,Chhattrapati Shivaji and social reformer Mahatma Phule. He had also written dialogues for movies like Drohkal and Dev,and played cameo in a few Marathi films,including Pune 52.

As a critic,Deshpande was closely associated with theatre. Together as a playwright and critic,he had created a distinct and formidable identity in the field of theatre and drama. He was also an acclaimed political science faculty and taught at the Centre for East Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi for many years.

He had deep knowledge of the Chinese language and the history and culture of China,which reflected through his columns published in noted periodicals. The US Library of Congress has acquired 12 of his books,including a few on Chinese foreign policy.

Deshpande had also written a column in the Economic and Political Weekly for over three decades. He edited a collection of Jotirao Phule’s writings (English) for LeftWord Books,Selected Writings of Jotirao Phule. Besides being a recipient of the 1977 Maharashtra State Award for his works,Deshpande was also honoured with Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1996.

Playwright Satish Alekar said Deshpande’s demise has created a big void in the field of art. “His understanding of social movements across the world was exceptional. He had deep knowledge of several languages,including German and Sanskrit. He was a fan of Hindustanti classical music. His sense of humour was awesome,” he said.

Social activist and CPM leader Kiran Moghe described Deshpande as an eminent scholar who did not carry any ego of his gifted intellect. “He was wonderful both as a person and as artiste,” she said.

Veteran playwright Datta Bhagat,who was president of 86 Marathi Natya Sammelan,lauded Deshpande’s work as a critic besides hailing his other abilities. “His perspective towards drama was different. His critique of dramas,especially political ones,was exceptional,” he said. Labour leader Mukta Manohar,who was instrumental in staging shows of Deshpande’s Satyashodhak through her team of workers of local civic body,said the nation has lost a great scholar and sensitive theatre artiste.

“Through Satyashodhak,he narrated the transformation of India during the times of Mahtama Phule in an effective manner,” she said.

Deshpande is survived by his son Sudhanwa and daughter Ashwini. The last rites were performed at Vaikunth crematorium here on Thursday afternoon in the presence of artistes,relatives,well-wishers and student-followers. CPM leader Brinda Karat,socialist leader Baba Adhav and veteran actor Shriram Lagoo were among those who paid last respect to Deshpande.

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