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“Caste-based discrimination is like a virus and keeps mutating to acquire different avatars”: Vikram Kochhar

Vikram Kochhar

The actor who stars in Zee Theatre’s Ambedkar Jayanti presentation, ‘State vs Malti Mhaske’, says such stories can sensitize us to the various aspects of casteism

On Ambedkar Jayanti, well-known theatre, film and TV actor Vikram Kochhar grows pensive as he discusses ‘State vs Malti Mhaske’, a Zee Theatre presentation exploring deep-seated caste divisions in society. While working in the play he went through many wrenching emotions and says, “As an actor, if you’re emoting a story as visceral as this, it hits you hard and sensitises you to the inequities in society. Division of caste emerged from human occupations but acquired an ugly, hierarchical tone subsequently. Dr. B R Ambedkar raised his voice against this caste based apartheid but the situation hasn’t changed much despite our Constitution’s emphasis on fundamental equality of all citizens. Discrimination is like a virus and keeps mutating and acquiring different avatars. Just to satisfy their personal quest for power and privilege, people tend to discriminate and inequality becomes systemic.”

‘State vs Malti Mhaske’ is directed by Nikhil Mahajan, and also stars  Divya Menon, Sagar Deshmukh and Smit Tambe. It will be screened on Dish and D2H Rangmanch Active and Airtel Spotlight on April 14th at 2 pm and 6 pm and is a riveting adaptation of American playwright and scholar Gary Earl Ross’ award-winning courtroom drama, ‘Matter of Intent.’

Talking about the storyline of the play Vikram adds that the play is about a 20-year-old Dalit house keeper who is accused of murdering her upper-caste employee but it manages to addresses the problem of casteism and systemic discrimination in a very symbolic way.

Vikram concluded saying the play was an eye opener for him and adds, “An open-and-shut murder case in the play turns out to be much more complicated when you dig deeper and discover the multiple aspects of casteism. As an actor, I realised how deeply embedded it is in our society and how it benefits some and oppresses others.  I know that change doesn’t happen overnight, but one has to change at least one’s own thinking which will trigger further societal change. On Ambedkar Jayanti, my message to everyone is, ‘live and let live. I hope, the audience feels the same way after watching the teleplay.”