It starts with something small...

Ambika Shaligram
Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Y, a Maharashtra Cultural Centre theatre production, will compel you to make a choice, for yourself and the society you live in

Palu/Anjaneya is a diffident and meek college guy and Aru/Arundhati is his smart, sassy and clear-headed girlfriend. Something ‘drives’ Palu to call Aru a ‘slut’. It’s not a case of a love story gone sour, but something more deeper and pernicious.

I will get to the pernicious part in a moment, but while watching Y, a play written and directed by Shrirang Godbole and Vibhawari Deshpande, my first impression was ‘this is so cliched’. The conflict of views between the protagonists is rather predictable, I thought.

The boy is born to middle-class folks (Radhika Ingale and Devendra Saralkar) while the girl is raised by liberal parents (Deshpande and Nitin Agnihotri). Enter Guru/Pakya (Harshad Rajpathak) who becomes the catalyst in Palu’s life and pushes him to a point of no-return.

The subtext of this Indo-German collaboration is political; it takes into account the growth of moral policing, intolerance, non-acceptance, shutting out and isolating people with different views, across all cultures.

So this is Pune and a certain Professor Vengurlekar is murdered (ref to Dr Narendra Dabholkar case). Aru’s mom is an artist, dad a journalist and the duo, in their own ways are trying to protest this heinous act.

With no clear views of his own, rather by not vocalising his support to his principal in a protest and curbing his girlfriend’s freedom to dress the way she wants or smoke, and coming down on her forcibly, Palu’s radicalisation begins.

From being an activist to indulging in unlawful practices and then being pushed to pick up the gun...Palu’s transformation is complete. The way in which this is achieved, is pernicious.

Much after the play, I recalled having read reports of a boy who volunteered for Islamic State (IS). The changes were obvious, but his family didn’t read the danger signals. The boy stopped his sister from watching TV serials, calling them ‘haram’; later he objected to her way of dressing; and then withdrew into his shell. We might shrug off the moral policing in our midst, dismissing it as something trivial; but that’s the beginning of a deeper malaise. If we don’t object right at the beginning, we are just helping in spreading it. Remember the Holocaust began with separating out the Jews from the others, by making them wear the yellow star.

So the conflict between the liberal values versud god-fearing middleclass teachings might seem cliched. But what it serves to point out is pertinent. The radicalisation starts with something small...


ST Reader Service

Maharashtra Cultural Centre's Y will be held at Jyotsna Bhole Sabhagruha on July 2, at 7 PM. Tickets are available at the venuw one hour prior to the show

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