By Aashay Khandekar
Though inter-caste and inter-religion marriages haven’t been unusually odd in the history of India, they’ve always been played up as an oddity in Bollywood for the sake of entertainment, is a point made by Blame It On Yashraj, a play written and directed by Bharat Dabholkar.
While the play itself is filled with truck loads of humour and nuances of life and pulled off with ease by its ensemble cast, lead actor of the play, Anant Mahadevan, who has been an active part of the commercial theatre for last 33 years, thinks that it offers much more than that.
Mahadevan, who won the National Film Award for Best Screenplay for I Am Sindhutai Sapkal (2010), started his career with theatre in 1978, when he played the role of Polonius in Hamlet. Since then he has worked in 35 different productions, wearing new hats and stepping into new roles consequently for the last three decades.
In Dabholkar’s Blame It On Yashraj, Mahadevan plays the role of an over-protective father, who gets worried because his daughter falls in love with a Muslim man. However, as the story unfolds, his character also becomes mature and shows ways of overcoming the unnecessary fear and preconceived notions.
Talking about satire in the play, Mahadevan says, “We have certain prejudices in our minds about people, due to which our thoughts are not conducive for a better and healthier communication. But irony is that, we don’t see intra-caste marriages getting successful always. In fact, there is a higher probability of finding someone who matches your frequency outside your caste or religion.”
In the play, the girl’s family has a pre-conceived notion about the groom and his family, which later turns out to be completely irrelevant, he adds. While Mahadevan agrees that the Yashraj banner has been made a scapegoat for the play, he also believes that this frontal assault has been brought on by the escapism of the film industry. “We have the Utopian mentality which is miles away from reality. The topics of Hindi film industry have been degrading over the past few years, barring a few exceptions. The regional cinema has surpassed Hindi cinema. Today, nobody wants to emulate Shyam Benegal, Govind Nihalani or Hrishikesh Mukherjee. I got an award for Sindhutai…, but did it reach masses? To be honest, the niche audience that appreciates good cinema much less as compared to the masses who prefer fantasy,” says Mahadevan, adding that there is a need to take Hindi cinema to a new level.
But this new level can only be brought with a change in the mindset of the people. “It is definitely not possible to turn around the entire situation in a night. Similarly, the thinking patterns of a person can’t be altered over a short period of time. But there should at least be an effort to reconcile. We all believe that there is something as ‘innate goodness’. Eventually, that should triumph. Only then, we’ll be able to progress as a society,” concludes Mahadevan.