The Marathi manoos can be Mr Clean as a Raja Gosavi character or menacing as a Nilu Phule one; mild-mannered as Dilip Prabhavalkar or aggressive as Nana Patekar; hip in her rahaani (style) like Shobhaa De or traditional like the gajra-loving Asha Bhosale; flashy as Vinod Kambli or quiet as Sachin Tendulkar.
There is physical variety, too. Marathas, the majority, are like espresso — robust and dark. Brahmins have skin that Fair & Lovely fans would kill for. Saraswat Brahmins and Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhus (CKPs) have striking features and healthy hair.
In no way can the Maharashtrian be typecast. Scholar Yashwant D Phadke says, "The notion that Marathi folk have of themselves — incorruptible, break-but-don't-bend people — is wrong."
Yet, the community has literary colossuses such as PL Deshpande (Pula), Vijay Tendulkar and Arun Kolatkar; cinema greats like Dadasaheb Phalke and Smita Patil; music titans like Pandit DV Paluskar, Bhimsen Joshi and Vasantrao Deshpande; and magnates like the Kirloskars.
And, looking up to Shivaji, quite a few Marathas feel that somewhere within all of them is a heroic soldier, a mawala.
Of Brahmins and CKPs, the latter held high posts in kings' courts. "Their names — Chitnis, Karkhanis, Sabnis — come from palace roles," says Phadke. "They've always been close to power. When I told this to Raj Thackeray (a CKP), he was pleased."
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