ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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GoPu and the Marathi Intellectual World

Govind Purushottam Deshpande enjoyed multiple identities – literally. In the professional academic world of Delhi where he made his career, he was always known as GPD (and this is also how he is known to readers of his EPW columns); and in the Marathi world, both of theatre and ideas, he was known as GoPu. GoPu spent all his academic life in Delhi, working at the School of International Studies (SIS). However, he was deeply rooted in the Marathi intellectual world in more than one sense. His creative writings bear testimony to this – he richly contributed to the genre of political theatre in Marathi (or probably created that genre and filled that space in Marathi language); intellectually, he always related himself to the idiom and ideas from Marathi language so much so that even in the course of his erudite English presentations, he would invariably slip into quotes from Marathi and employ Marathi terminology, something which was otherwise seen as the preserve only of the proud Bengali intelligentsia. But more than these, GoPu’s rootedness comes out vividly in his permanent preoccupation with the shaping of Marathi “world of ideas”.

GoPu excelled in what can be described as the argumentative essay (one suspects that that was what characterised his role as a playwright too). Perhaps he himself was aware of this – his collected essays are titled Charchak Nibandh (discursive essays). In style and intent, these writings were seldom those of a pontificator; they would never have the tone of a sermon. One doubts if GoPu ever believed in preaching; rather, he enjoyed argumentation and preferred to believe that his audience/reader is ready to take in/on the argument. He did not dish out wisdom. (Or, was it that he had a robust suspicion about the ability of the audience/reader to absorb ready-to-digest wisdom and hence chose to tease the reader out of comfort zones?)

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