Director: Shrirang Godbole
Actors: Radhika Ingale, Devendra Saralkar, Aroh Velankar. Ashwini Phatak and Harshad Rajpathak
Whatever happens in our life is definitely about you and me, isn’t it. There are so many things in between though. In the case of this play, ‘Du and Me’, it does become true. It’s different… really! Part of the silver jubilee year celebrations of Grips theatre in India, this play is a unique collaboration between German Grips professional Lutz Huebner, Shrirang Godbole and Vibhawari Deshpande. Most would know of Grips as creators of plays keeping the youth in mind, also offering a slice of life and a deep message. But these plays are in fact for one and all. Du is German for ‘you’ while the Me is our Marathi ‘me’. The play is a great attempt at passing the message of getting over cultural assumptions and misunderstanding to create a bond of respect and looking at a culture from better perspective. The focus is also on the mistake many adults making of thinking that youngsters, are plain immature to understand relationships and other things in life.
You meet a typical Puneri family – the Deshpandes (typical Puneri surname, nahi ka?), which consists of a cricket addict father who takes things lightly, an inquisitive and hyper mother, an over-the-top grandmother and a sensible daughter (all of 17) Radha. They are in a cultural exchange programme wherein a German teenager named Boris, plans to stay with them and the next year, Radha is to go to Germany. As expected, the grandmother froths at her mouth at the concept of a young boy in their house when they have a teenager daughter, plus the cultural differences. The parents, on the other hand, are chilled. Boris arrives and after a few hits and misses, gets to know them. But it is the cultural clashes which becomes an issue, especially when he and Radha become ‘good friends’.
If you are of the thought that this play might be working on the usual lines of all drab messages, think again. It is a well-written and directed play. The play speaks the true language of not just today’s youth who know how they want to understand issues like love and culture but also shows what the parents go through. The parents, however modern, do have their share of panic attacks when it comes to their kids. What carries the play is the humour which does not falter anywhere. The humour connects with you as it focuses on simple things like our habits, Hindi movies and songs, cultural clashes and so on. The play speaks our mind but nowhere does it comes out as preachy. For example, when the Deshpandes come to know about Boris’s dysfunctional family, the reactions are what one would expect from any typical Indian middle-class family. It works for us that the writers, Shrirang Godbole and Vibhawari Deshpande, are also the play’s directors. They know what they want to see on the stage.
The set design is quite basic and works for the play to run smoothly. On one side, notice a kind of steps prepared where the other actors sit while someone else is performing. The use of props and lighting is superb. Rahul Ranade’s music gets your emotions flowing. Do listen to the title song. You’ll love it.
‘Du and Me‘ is the kind of the play which has something to say but the language is not condescending. It depends on simple humour to take itself forward without harming the content. Definitely, a perfect play for the family to watch..