The middle class and their one-upmanship

Nothing actually shocks me. I am from middle class society and I have seen all the hypocrisies and double standards all my life. People earn all their life and save for their children’s marriages.

They spend so much on the marriage functions to show off to the others and then they are not left with anything to fend for their old age. There is always a one-upmanship war going on.

I once went to a wedding and there were 53 desserts to end the sumptuous dinner! Isn’t that a complete show off? Who can eat 53 desserts?!

My play, Patte Khul Gaye is an expose of the hypocrisies and double standards in our society.

The middle class generally loves to show off its standard of living. Whether the resources are there or not, they want expensive cars, they want to possess costly phones.

They love to give expensive cars in dowry too They also love to show how well connected they are. Arrest any one for a road offence and before showing his licence he would love to show off a connection with someone in power. These same people love to shove their embarrassments under the carpet!

In times of adversity, however, our real self comes to the surface. In such situations, everyone loses their balance and lowers their guard. The real faces of people who are near and dear to you come to the fore.

I am quite the people-observer; I observe all the time. I keep all my senses open and alert always. It’s a prerequisite for an actor. I indulge in the habit of observation at every moment of life. Be it on a flight or in a queue for anything, everyone is a subject for me.

I find all kinds of people interesting. Sitting and waiting outside a doctor’s clinic can tell you what kind of patients are visiting him. Seeing a mother with a naughty child who is not being controlled can be very funny. Observing a skirmish in the neighbourhood can be very useful. Above all, I love to observe children. They are great teachers.

Seeing people for what they really are, does not make me cynical. I don’t feel bitter or angry about anything or anybody. But still I despise people who practice religion with great fervour but disrespect humanity.

In real life, am I like the poet in my play Patte Khul Gaye, who comes up with a funny couplet at the drop of a hat, to ease tense situations? Haha, yes in real life I’m quite like that. Either I come up with a couplet of mine or some great poet like Ghalib. Else, I come up with a funny one liner. At times a PJ too that fits the bill.

Truth is, humour does make truths more palatable. If a serious truth or message is being conveyed to the audiences in the garb of humour, it certainly goes a long way to make an impact.

It has a very long shelf life. In any case, people today want to be entertained. What better way to say what you want to say wrapped in humour!

— Co-ordinated by Nichola Pais