Story Title: Culture and Poetry

By Akshay Sharma
Word Count: 520

Pune International Literary Festival

It is widely accepted that Pune is the cultural center of Maharashtra, and it also contributes to the world of literature, especially Marathi literature. It not only has been home to some of the finest authors but also a great place to learn about literature. The many bookshops that Pune has is a testament to the fact that there are plenty of book-lovers in this city. Add to this the literary festivals that are conducted, and Pune is surely the home of Marathi literature.

Famous authors: Pune has been the birthplace and residence of many great and famous Marathi authors. Notable Marathi authors include:

Chintamani Vinayak Joshi:
CV Joshi was a famous Marathi writer and humorist. He was in 1892 in Pune. His famous works include Aankhi Chimanrao, Osadvadiche Dev, Chimanravache Charhat, Rahat Gadge, Erandache Gurhaal, Hasya Chintamani, Chauthe Chimanrao, Gundya Bhau, Sola Aane among others.

Purushottam Lakshman Deshpande:
Popularly known by his initials Pu. La., he was a prominent Marathi writer and humorist. He came to be known as Maharashtrache Laadke Vyaktimatva (Maharashtra's beloved personality). P.L. Deshpande was born in 1919 in Mumbai. His works includes Plays, Novels, Travelogues, Essays etc.. He also performed in various movies as an actor, music director and singer also. He wrote stories, screenplays and dialogues for various movies as well. Two of his famous plays are Sundar Mi Honar and Tujhe Ahe Tujapashi. He recieved many awards including the Padma Shri, the Padma Bhushan, Sahitya Natak Akademi Award, Sahitya Akademi Award, Maharashtra Bhushan. He died on 12 June, 2000 in Pune.

Balwant Moreshwar Purandare:
Known popularly as Babasaheb Purandare, he is best known for his famous play Jaanta Raja, based on the life of Shivaji. His works on Shivaji have earned him the title of Shiv Shaheer (Shivaji's bard). He was born in 1922 in Pune. He has been awarded the Maharashtra Bhushan and the Kalidas Samman. Jaanta Raja has gained renown across the country and has been staged over & over again.

Prahlad Keshav Atre:
Also known as Acharya Atre, he was a writer, poet, editor and also a film-maker. Acharya Atre was born on in 1898. His famous works include the plays Moruchi Mavshi, To Mi Navhech. He also wrote several novels, biographies, essays as well. He died on the 13th of June 1969.

Pune has been home to many English language authors as well. Some of the notable English authors from this city are:

Dilip Chitre:
Born in 1938, Dilip Chitre was a notable poet and writer in both Marathi and English. He also worked as an editor. Sonja Chandrachud: Dubbed as the "Desi Rowling" by the Times of India, Sonja Chandrachud is a leading name in the world of young adult literature in India. She was also the organiser and co-host of the Pune International Literary Festival in September 2013.

Pune plays host to literary festivals as well. One of them is the Pune International Literary Festival (PILF). This is an annual literary festival that began in September, 2013. The second edition of this PILF was held this year from September 18 to 20. This festival has featured many famous authors, both from India and abroad.


Story Title: Song & Music

By Akshay Sharma
Word Count: 531

Pandit Bhimsen Joshi

Any city which has a great history and great cultural heritage is bound to have a great culture of music as well. Pune is no exception. Over the decades Pune has not only produced great singers and musicians but has also hosted various music festivals. Some of the bigger music festivals are:

NH 7 Weekender: This is a three day music festival that is held in Pune and other cities. The festival is about 'indie' music which basically means Western music sung in Indian styles or fusion (mixed) music. The festival began in 2010. In 2011, NH 7 was voted "India's best music festival" by CNNGo. Some of the biggest music bands and artists perform at this festival. Why do you think its called NH7?

Sawai Gandharva Music Festival: This is an annual Indian classical music festival that was first held in 1953. The initiative for organizing this festival was taken by Pt. Bhimsen Joshi who wanted a festival to honour his guru, Sawai Gandharva. In 1953 the festival started on a small scale and commemorated the first death anniversary of Sawai Gandharva. After the death of Bhimsen Joshi, the festival was renamed as Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Festival. The festival is usually held in December and lasts three days.

The towering figure in the history of Pune music is Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. Born in 1922, Pt. Joshi is regarded as the greatest ever Hindustani classical singer. His first live performance was in 1941, when he was 12. He also sang a few songs for Bollywood movies. He lived in Pune and passed away in 2011. In 2009, Bhimsen Joshi received the highest civilian award of India, the Bharat Ratna.

A major musical institution of the city of Pune is the Poona Music Society. This society was formed in 1946. They present Western classical concerts by noted musicians from across the world. The society is a non-profit cultural organization which is run by volunteers.

A prominent musical family of Pune is the Shende family, basically the two sisters Sawani and Bela. Sawani Shende-Sathaye was born into a family of musicians in 1979. Her grandmother, Kusum and her father Sanjeev were both classical singers. At the age of 13 she performed at the Rashtrapati Bhawan for the then President of India. Bela Shende is her younger sister. Unlike her sister, Bela is mainly a playback singer. Her famous songs in from the movies include Mann Mohana from Jodha Akbar, Su Chhe from What's your Rashee, plus many songs for Marathi movies.

Pune is also home to the rock music band Agnee. This band was re-formed in 2006. They have won several awards like MTV Video Music award for Best Regional Song in 2013.

Legendary Singers Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosale are closely linked to the city through the Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital Their father Deenanath Mangeshkar was a renowned actor and singer of Marathi theatre and was a Punekar. A Hospital named Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital in Erandwane is named after him. Lata Mangeshkar owns a restaurant in Pune located in the Aundh area called Sarjaa.

Pune is surely happening musically speaking. Whether it be Indian or Western, Classical or Pop, you'll find it here.


Story Title: Theatre and Dance

By Akshay Sharma
Word Count: 537

Bal Gandharva Rangmandir

The status of Pune as the cultural capital of Maharashtra is well known. Pune therefore has a large amount of theatre and dance happening.

The beginning of popular Marathi theatre can be traced back to the play 'Seeta Swayamwar' by the pioneer of Marathi theatre Vishnudas Bhave in 1843. In the same year a very prominent personality in theatre was born. His name was Balwant Pandurang Kirloskar, popularly known as Annasaheb Kirloskar. He founded the theatre group Kirloskar Natak Mandali. The success of this mandali led to Marathi theatre becoming extremely popular and many other 'natak mandalis' (drama groups) coming into existence.

One of the tallest figures in Marathi theatre was Narayan Shripad Rajhans, famously known as Bal Gandharva. He was born in 1888 into a humble family. He started his career as a singer of Bhajans. In 1905, Bal Gandharva joined the Kirloskar Natak Mandali and became one of their star performers. He was known for playing female roles as well in plays since at that time women were not allowed to act in plays.

Bal Gandharva formed the Gandharva Sangeet Mandali in 1913. Due to heavy debts the group was dissolved and then revived in 1937. He acted in 25 Marathi classic plays. He is considered as to have been a key in making 'Sangeet Natak' (musical plays) popular among the general public. He passed away in 1967. Along with Bal Gandharva, other great actor-singers of this era include Keshavrao Bhosle, Bhaurao Kolhatkar and Deenanath Mangeshkar.

After independence, Marathi theatre continued to grow. PL Deshpande emerged as the leading playwright of Marathi theatre. The modern era of Marathi theatre saw the rise of many great theatre personalities like the noted playwright (person who writes a theatre script) Vijay Tendulkar.

Pune has many theatre auditoriums. The most prominent among them are Yashwantrao Chavan Natyagruha, Tilak Smarak Mandir, Bal Gandharva Rang Mandir and Nehru Memorial Hall.

Purushottam Karandak is an annual inter-college one-act play competition that is held in Pune. This competition was started in 1962 by Rambhau Date in the memory of Purushottam Vaze. It is organized every year by the organisation called Maharashtriya Kalopasak.

One of the most famous theatre actors from pune is Mohan Agashe. He was born in 1947. He won the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1996. From April 1997 to April 2002 he was the Director General of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). He has acted in several popular Bollywood movies like Rang de Basanti, Apaharan, Gangajal, Jolly LLB etc.

No theatre can be complete without dance. The dance forms that are popular in Pune theatre include the Dindi Dance which is a religious and devotional dance. The performers include a mridangam player and a vocalist. The Dindi is itself a small drum-like instrument. The Tamasha is a form of musical theatre that dates back to the 16th century. The famous Lavani dance is a part of Tamasha. Instruments that are used in this form of drama are the Dholki drum, 'Tuntuni' (a single string instrument), 'Manjeera' (cymbals), 'Daf' (a tambourine-like instrument with a single leather surface), 'Halgi' (smaller Daf), the metal triangle called 'Kade', the 'Lejim' (an instrument with a jangling sound), the Harmonium and 'Ghunghroos' (ankle bells).