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Hari Ramakrishnan

1. People in this play

 

Akhilesh “Akki” Jha

The only son of an Indian land-owning (zamindar) family, Akki has always been pampered. While he grew up shuttling between Patna and New Delhi, home was always the zamindar ki haveli. Akki has two elder sisters and a younger brother, but he knows that he will have to take on the responsibility of the family, the business and the family lands one day. But for now, he is enjoying studying Management & Economics at this British university. Akki’s family has a conservative outlook, steeped in the mainstream patriarchal culture of Bihar, which Akki has never questioned. He revels in the respect and perceived adoration as the “zaminder’s son and heir” both from his extended family who look up to his father and grandfather, and all the people in his district.

 

Hari Ramakrishnan

Hari is from New Delhi and doing a MA in Big Data Studies. His career goal is a tenured chair at a university, teaching and researching. Hari is a proud Hindu Indian and believes in the superiority of his religious beliefs. He visits the local temple in the university town as often as he can. But he also has made a small temple on a table in a corner of his room so he can seek God’s blessings every morning. Hari is comfortable with the social norms he has grown up with but loves the freedoms he experiences in the university, now that he is no longer living under his parents’ eyes. So Hari’s favourite pastime is debating and a member of the same student association as Sam. He frequently participates in campus discussions around life in India, which he defends to the best of his ability.

Latha “LG” Guruswamy

LG is a third-generation non-resident Indian (NRI), the youngest of two daughters of her doctor parents. Her family and Sam’s are neighbours in a small tourist-attraction town close to the university. She has been friends with Sam and Lisa since high school. LG is studying law but takes a keen interest in sociological topics and belongs to a sociology study group. Latha is in a live-in relationship with Zara, a journalism student at the university she met in the study group. Latha’s parents are unaware that she is a lesbian, or that she is in an existing relationship, and are scouting around for a suitable boy for their beloved daughter.

Lisa Holmes

Lisa is studying sociology. She is Black British. Her grandparents came to Britain from the Caribbean on the Windrush. Lisa grew up in a single parent household, with her mother working two low-wage jobs to keep the family together.

Lisa is well clued into the social pressures and concerns that come with her background and is determined to fulfil her grandmother’s dream of having an academic in the family. But she knows how to keep her life well-balanced and has been together with Sam since high school. They live together in rented student accommodation. Lisa also loves gospel singing and is part of her local church choir.

Manu Mathuru

Manu is from New Delhi and came to this university four years ago for his MA in Anthropology on a scholarship and has stayed on do to his Doctorate in Development Studies as he was won a grant for it. He did his Bachelor’s rom St Stephen’s College in Delhi. Manu enjoys debating and that’s how he met up with Hari on campus. They hold opposing views on many subjects, but their mutual respect and common Indian background has resulted in an unlikely friendship.

Samir “Sam” Kulkarni

Sam is a second-generation NRI with a liberal upbringing, doing his MA in Management Science and Engineering. Sam’s father is a wealthy corporate and his mother is a society lady, on the board of many charities. Sam has bolstered his limited first-hand exposure to India with reading, watching films/documentaries. He loves discussing many aspects of India with his friends and family back home. Lately he has joined many WhatsApp discussion groups, which he thinks helps him understand current affairs quickly.

​The setting

In a space in the university town of Bristol, UK. The six friends are chilling out on a lazy Friday evening. Manu is checking his newsfeed on his mobile, while the rest are having a friendly banter.

 

2. Script for Hari

 

Manu

Latha “LG”

Manu

Sam

Manu:

Lisa

Manu

Lisa

Manu

Lisa: I know … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... stuff?

Hari: Oh yeah, Lisa, the caste system is described in our ancient Hindu scriptures. It’s stood the test of time in creating a social order that worked. Personally, I’ve been brought up with modern thoughts in a cosmopolitan city, so I don’t practise caste …But frankly, when it comes to my own marriage, l would rather choose a girl from a similar background. Because that’s the best way to ensure that we’ll be compatible. You know, marriages in India are between two families. It is easier when both families have a similar upbringing, culture ... similar value systems … But that’s community, hmmm … maybe class, not caste …

Akki

Latha “LG”: As a … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... crazy.

Hari: But what has this case Manu is talking about got to do with the caste system? The High Court must have thought this through, I’m sure they have more facts than we do. I mean, it’s obvious from the High Court judgment that what you’re saying isn’t the complete picture. After all, everything isn’t about caste like Akki said.

Latha "LG":

Lisa: I just … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... O! M! G!

Hari [aggressively]: Really, caste doesn’t exist today. Did I ever ask any of you your caste when we first met?

Latha “LG”

Sam

Latha “LG”: Exactly! … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... everyone?

Hari: Don’t be so harsh yaar. We’re all learning and evolving. See how many Indians supported the Black Lives Matter protests in the US. So many tweets …

Lisa: For sure, I … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... world.

Hari: I understand what happened to George Floyd is awful but you know, such things don’t happen every day … Come to think of it, why only Black lives? Don't all lives matter?

Lisa

Sam

Manu

Latha “LG”

Sam

Manu:

Lisa:

Manu

Sam

Latha “LG”:

Lisa

Latha “LG”: Well, … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... time.

Hari: Oooh, I remember this. My mom used to tell my sis to use Fair & Lovely daily to improve her complexion!

Manu:

Lisa

Akki: 

Latha “LG”

Lisa

Akki

Sam

Latha “LG”: Akki, … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... us”?

Hari [shaking his head]: Come on! Are you saying that Akki should follow “reservation” in his friendships?! [In appalled tone] I’m certainly not going to go around asking people their caste before I make friends with them!

Sam

Manu: Hari, … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... subconsciously …

Hari: You guys are always finding fault with Hindu scriptures just like that …

Akki

Latha “LG”

Lisa

Sam:

Lisa:

Latha “LG”

Manu

Latha “LG”

Akki: There … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... matter!

Hari: Gotta be loud yaar, there’s four of them and only two of us. These odds aren’t exactly fair!

Latha “LG”: Ha ha … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... hai na?

END

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