By Nilesh P. Khandare(28 Mar 2011)
Dr. Sanjay Banerjee (Girish Karnad), is an Indian doctor who has been living in London for 40 years. He is a prominent member of the community, an amateur theatre practitioner and has received several professional awards. He is 68, somewhat concerned about his erratic blood pressure and completely dependent on his wife on all domestic issues.
Manju (Sharmila Tagore), is Sanjay’s
wife. She works as a librarian and a singer. She trains young children in
Indian music in her spare time.
Lolita (Mukulika Banerjee), is the eldest.
She is married to John, a British investment banker. She has her hands full with a 3 year old daughter and a six month old baby.
Tulika (Neerja Naik), is a TV news presenter. She lives in Birmingham and has not been home for a few months.
Dia (Soha Ali Khan), is the youngest, lives at home, is a university student and passionate about theatre.
Alok (Om Puri), Sanjay Banerjee has a close friend to the family. His access to the house and its inmates is unrestricted.
Imtiaz (Rez Kemption), a young muslim doctor, is Dia’s boy friend.
John (Christopher Hatherall), is Lolita’s
husband who is presently torn between
the credit crisis and the crisis at home.
Maria (Steph Patten), is Tuli’s
girl friend and colleague.
The drama explores the relations between a grief stricken father and his three daughters. Set in London, the time is now, the family of Indian origin- part of the UK diaspora.
With his wife’s sudden death, Sanjay(Girish Karnad) is suddenly thrown into close proximity with his three daughters. The drama unfolds over five days from the day when Manju(Sharmila Tagore) dies to day of the funeral. Haunted by memories, grappling with this devastating loss, missing the mediating influence of his wife, Sanjay finds himself assessing and carving out new relations with his three daughters. He is faced with a further crisis when he discovers his youngest and most loved daughter Dia(Soha Ali Khan), has a Muslim boyfriend Imtiaz(Rez Kemption). Confused and angry, Sanjay leaves home and wanders the streets of London one night. With an unexpected series of events, Sanjay is forced to face his past demons, his trauma over the partition of India when as a child, he was forced to leave his home with his parents.
Finally to come to terms with his old and unspoken prejudice about Muslims, in the larger context of the country in the grips of Islamaphobia as the events of 7/7 and the consequences of the Iraq war reverberate.
As he sits drenched and tired on a bench on Hampstead Heath and watches the sun rise – Sanjay puts his demons to rest. At the funeral he has come to terms with himself, he allows the Muslim boy to join the family rituals and sees his daughters for what they are and not what he expected them to be. The shadow of Shakespeare’s King Lear bears on this contemporary and free adaptation. It works functionally as a sub- text in the film as we see Sanjay and Dia within the contours of the mythical Lear and Cordelia.