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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Caste away

While they shout out loud ‘We are Progressing’,Ashutosh Potdar rolls up his sleeves and holds up a mirror to them.

Written by Shashi Priya |
April 28, 2009 2:11:25 am

City-based theatre group Aasakta’s latest production,Aanadbhog Mall reinstates the fact that caste is a myth

While they shout out loud ‘We are Progressing’,Ashutosh Potdar rolls up his sleeves and holds up a mirror to them. For,he believes a fetish for progress modeled on desirous market aspirations is hollow. “We say we are progressing but it is still there,i.e. the caste system. So much so,that a husband and wife of different castes fight over the differences,two close friends contemplate the traits associated with different castes and so-called intellectuals still practice the rituals related to caste difference without any guilty conscience,” says Potdar. Potdar teemed up with director and playwright Mohit Takalkar for the 90-minute-long play Aanadbhog Mall.

Takalkar,who was lately involved in directing plays like Chaitra and Garbo says,“There are very few political plays in Marathi. This play starts on that note and continues in the same vein till the first half.” The play is the story of a village transformed into a city and the transformation is not just of the city but also of its people,who,though transformed,could not get rid of footprints from the past. “In this village,people from other religions and preferences used to reside. In addition to earthy village people,we have in addition now some city folk as well. They have safely stored the villagers’s customs,preferences and earthiness in the darkest corners of their minds. The city folk are secular. The knots of religion and caste exist only in their minds. The knots feed on their intellectual superiority or physical power over others but they have tradition on their side. And tradition never dies,it perpetuates,” says Potdar.

Tradition did not die for the two characters of the play as well. The couple who become a part of the faceless crowd moving through the malls during the day,cling to their original caste identities in the night. “Eventually,the heated arguments over the differences lead to sexual dysfunction,ruining the marriage. All this because they carry the baggage of the caste to the bed,” says Potdar. The Maratha doctor and his Brahmin wife reinforce the impact of the caste system. It is interwoven in our lifestyle. On such a personal level as well,we bring this whole caste hierarchy into play,” says Takalkar.

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While the couple strives to shed the tag of the castes they belong to,the play brings to our notice the new born caste system of the global world. “In a mall,everyone is a nobody,you don’t know or ask their caste,you blissfully become part of a faceless community. Yet there still is caste system there. The workers behind the desk and the buyers,the sweepers,the liftman,the mall employees — all of them and the mall goers become a part of a caste system,” he adds.

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