The Week, January 2013
The year 2012 ended with a gruesome act—the gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi. I feel man has become the symbol of hatred. And the fact that we call our nation Bharatmata has become a matter of shame.

I don't know what can create compassion in human beings; but I feel an invocation of inner kindness and peace in all human beings could alter social mindsets and prevent the recurrence of such acts. I also feel the role of women in society should be respected. Women are highly creative beings. If we as a society respect this, we will begin to see them as equals.

While honouring women for their creativity, one can draw inspiration from Maharashtra, which has produced many women musicians of the highest stature, such as Kesarbai Kerkar, Hirabai Barodekar, Mogubai Kurdikar, Kishori Amonkar, Gangubai Hangal and Lata Mangeshkar.

Though our aim should be to respect women, we should also try to eliminate abusive behaviour as a whole from our society. Creativity is an antidote to corrosion. The problems of violence in our society will reduce if we focus on music, creativity and peace.

Two male artistes from Maharashtra who had been an integral part of the music scene were the late Dr Vasantrao Deshpande and the late Purushottam Laxman Deshpande. A literary genius, P.L. Deshpande, or Pu. La., as he was fondly remembered, was a novelist, lyricist, music director and playwright. He observed the world astutely and incorporated his findings in his writings, which were also laced with a sharp sense of humour. He travelled widely and his experiences were documented into what later came out as two of his famous travelogues, Apoorvai (his visit to Europe) and Poorva Rang (his visit to Southeast Asia).

P.L. was a fine orator and his speeches had a strong mass appeal. The audience listened intently to every word he said. He was a master at taking potshots at political figures through his writings. He wrote several Marathi plays, many of which are still presented in contemporary avatars. Through his writings and plays, he explored different aspects of human behaviour. He put together the many imperfections in social interactions in an entertaining way. His writings are valuable both as a resource of history and a social narrative of the 1900s.

A doyen of Hindustani classical music, Vasantrao Deshpande created an inimitable style. He also performed in some Marathi musical plays that played an important role in the history of Marathi musicals. His grandson Rahul carries forth the legacy of Deshpande. Rahul started the grand initiative called Vasantotsav, a three-day annual musical festival held in Pune, which has completed five successful years.

I would like to congratulate the brilliant Sai Shravanam of Resound India studio in Adyar, Chennai, for recording parts of the soundtracks used in Ang Lee's movie Life of Pi, which has been nominated for 11 Oscars. I would also like to congratulate the Carnatic music vocalist Bombay Jayashri for getting an Oscar nomination for her song in the movie.


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