Superman ka Best Friend: a pandemic conversation between two youngsters

The new Hindi play is written and directed by Vikalp Kriya’s Prabir Bose and Anju Uppal

A performance at Defence Colony, Porvorim; (image credit: Mike)

By Reema Gowalla

After years of working and performing within communities, theatre practitioners Prabir Bose and Anju Uppal bring their play Superman ka Best Friend to a black box theatre. In recent times, shows have also been conducted at private residences and alternative spaces in Goa, Mumbai and Jaipur. In Bengaluru, new shows of the 50-minute Hindi play are scheduled to take place at Our Theatre Studio, Maraa — A Media and Arts Collective and Bangalore International Centre (BIC).

“The storyline can be described as a response to the deadly virus and the pandemic it caused. But the subtext focuses more on the impact it made on people’s life, particularly the low-income groups in the country that did not have the means to sustain the many lockdowns and found themselves engulfed in helplessness and uncertainties each passing day,” says co-director Prabir.

Inspired by true events in parts, the narrative follows the experiences of a young boy, named Guddu, who is homebound due to the pandemic, but manages to strike a conversation with a friend on the other side. From his apartment on the 16th floor at a high-rise building in Noida, he tries to be in touch with his new friend, who doesn’t share the same privileges in life as Guddu.

A glimpse of the show at Studio Tamaasha, in Mumbai; (image credit: Rohit Thapa)

“The difference in these kids’ life and circumstances is the central point of the play. How people from different strata in society coped with the unprecedented crisis that the raging virus brought about. What the government and authorities did to help the families of daily wagers, who were struggling to make ends meet. At a time when we were spending precious moments at home appreciating clear city skies and chirpy birds on the balcony, thousands of migrant workers were heading back to their villages on foot. We may think that children did not probably understand the intensity of the problem, but these adversities have made an impression on their psyche too,” he elaborates.

A Vikalp Kriya presentation, Superman ka Best Friend is “a play about children not being mere mute witnesses to the outside world even if they remain unheard in most cases”. The cast includes actors Sobita Kudtarkar and Aditya Verma.

Anju Uppal and Prabir Bose

Throwing light on the thought behind the title of the play, Prabir says, “The term ‘superman’ takes a dig at the ‘superhero’ mentality that the human race nurtures today, thinking everything else is beneath us.”

Although the story is about two kids, the message of the play is for the adults, according to Prabir. “As we rejoice life getting back to normal after two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, the play asks what is this normalcy that we are talking about. Hum kahan lautenge? What is the kind of future that we are looking at? The narrative also scrutinises the ‘digital development’ in our country in recent times. It looks at children and their minds in online ka zamana. It’s a play for adults that the young audience can also enjoy,” he sums up.

The Bengaluru shows are happening at Our Theatre Collective on September 17, at 7.30pm (https://forms.gle/FvCJmgxdZRrMGBtR6); at Maraa — A Media and Arts Collective on September 18, at 11.30am (https://www.instagram.com/p/CiepjbSpjnD/); and at BIC on September 18, at 6.30pm (https://bangaloreinternationalcentre.org/.../superman-ka.../).

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