top of page

Samir "Sam" Kulkarni

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 Sam

 

Manu

Latha “LG”

Manu: It’s … … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... into it ...

Sam: Yea, I remember the story, really crazy … What's the latest?

Manu

Lisa

Manu

Lisa

Manu

Lisa:

Hari:

Akki

Latha “LG”:

Hari

Latha "LG"

Lisa

Hari

Latha “LG”: Seriously … … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... lives. 

Sam: Guys, Kausalya and Shankar have been victims of all kinds of violence. I’m not saying this to make them out as helpless victims. Verbal and physical attacks from Kausalya’s family, who then had Shankar murdered. Think of the social pressure that created this sense of humiliation, this need to seek revenge. That’s social violence, right? And then a society that isn’t standing up for Kausalya and Shankar even now. That’s us by the way, at least most Indians.

Manu:

Latha “LG”:

Hari

Lisa

Hari:

Lisa: Hari sorry, … … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... pretense.

Sam: I mean, just look at the facts man – there are reports that show that if a Black man and a White man are convicted of the same offence in the US, in all probability the Black guy will get a longer prison sentence than the White guy. How can this ever be fair? This is how insidious White supremacy is … this is one of the “small” ways in which it makes a big difference to individual lives!

Manu

Latha “LG”: Oh … … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... racism.

Sam: You know what, all this talk is making me think savarnas do the same when it comes to casteism and caste privilege. We keep saying that “those” people mustn’t talk about caste, that we’re all one human race … All one race, until our privileges are threatened. That’s our savarna fragility!

Manu:

Lisa

Manu: It’s similar … … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... vaccinated?

Sam: Well, you reminded me! I remember reading a report in The Mooknayak of a Dalit woman, Prabha Devi, in a village in Bihar whom the vaccination team refused to vaccinate because she didn’t have an Aadhar card. She lived in a tent, didn’t own any land, and as she didn’t have an address, apparently she couldn't get an Aadhar card. So no home, no Aadhar card, no vaccination. Do you think she’s the only one who was this situation?

Latha “LG”

Lisa

Latha “LG”

Hari

Manu

Lisa “LG”

Akki: 

Latha “LG”

Lisa

Akki: Hold up … … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... woman.

Sam [disbelievingly]: Akki, only privileged people like us have the luxury of saying that caste doesn’t exist or isn’t an issue or maybe even is a good thing … What about the fact that even today Dalits are ostracised for riding a ghodi or mare in their own baraat or using footwear like slippers, and even killed for growing a moustache? Or that in the part of India where my family comes from, a Dalit bride had to spend her marriage night with the zamindaar, the thakur. Not even the poorest savarna bride was ever expected to do that. All this because of some supposed misdeeds in past births, karma? We don’t attach any value to their lives as we do to ours. The village sarpanch was clearly not going to make the effort to ensure some poor Dalit woman got her Aadhar card or vaccination. Even while saying: "hamare gaon ki beti hai". I mean surely it’s in everyone’s interest that she was vaccinated?

Latha “LG”

Hari: Come on! … … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... them!

Sam: You are already doing that effectively Hari, don’t you see? As LG just asked Akki, think of your social circle Hari – how mixed is it? You are [emphasis] practising caste discrimination … it’s so much a part of you, you don’t even realise it! And “liberated” savarna folks will continue blissfully unaware of the distinction so long as we are happy just stating “We don’t believe in caste”. Dalits, or even OBCs, can't afford to say that, because caste is dumped on them by the behaviour of the same savarna people like us.

Manu

Hari

Akki

Latha “LG”

Lisa: LG, … … ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... the world.

Sam: Oh yeah Lisa. This Kausalya Shankar case was like a Black marrying a White woman in the Jim Crow era. That Black guy would have been lynched, just like Shankar was. All because he was a Dalit who dared! So let’s not pretend that his caste had nothing to do with his murder.

Lisa

Latha “LG”:

Manu

Latha “LG”

Akki

Hari

Latha “LG”:

END

bottom of page