“Bring back the Pune I once loved”

Says ac­tress Su­nali Kulkarni

India Today - - INSIDE - Aditi Pai.

It’s iron­i­cal that ex­actly eight days be­fore Dr Naren­dra Dab­holkar was killed in broad day­light I was at a func­tion with him where I said, “Pune isn’t a city where mur­ders are planned”. I was speak­ing in con­text of the film Maaficha Sak­shi­daar based on a se­ries of killings that had rocked Pune in the early sev­en­ties. A week later, I was shocked to hear that the ac­tivist who I had worked with for the past 16 years was killed in this very city that I was so proud of. It’s made me be­lieve that Pune, the city I grew up and stud­ied in, has changed so much. There’s a fear psy­chosis that has set in, Punekars don’t feel safe any­more. At one time, it used to be ad­dressed with sev­eral lofty ep­i­thets— the Ox­ford of the East or the cul­tural and aca­demic cap­i­tal of Ma­ha­rash­tra. To­day, there is a big racket run by fake god­men and even the well ed­u­cated fall into the trap. It was the city where Bal Gan­gad­har Ti­lak started the Ganeshut­sav to bring peo­ple to­gether and en­cour­age them to recog­nise their col­lec­tive strength; a city that was home to re­searchers and schol­ars who pro­moted dis­cus­sions and de­bate. It’s in this very city that a ra­tional voice was si­lenced with guns. As a stu­dent of Fer­gus­son Col­lege, we girls would hop on to our bikes and ride back home af­ter the­atre re­hearsals and shows even at mid­night. Our par­ents would be up wait­ing for us but there was never a fear that some­thing might go wrong on the roads. To­day, I’d never ad­vise any woman to travel alone in the city at night. Pune was a city of sim­plic­ity with deeply rooted cul­tural val­ues and great em­pha­sis on ed­u­ca­tion. Now, we judge by ap­pear­ances so a sense of pre­tence has set in. We no longer care about the next per­son; the close so­cial fab­ric is dis­in­te­grat­ing, which in turn, is lead­ing to crimes and fear. Pune was known for its mid­dle class who was strong and fear­less. That strength is now turn­ing into help­less­ness. It’s un­for­tu­nate that the city of Ti­lak is also the city that si­lenced Dab­holkar’s voice. Son­ali Kulkarni is a film and the­atre ac­tress. As told to

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