Not Equal To is my first original play. I wanted to write a story about inequality, which I believe, is the social justice issue of our times. How democracies today respond to the challenge of growing inequality will determine the future of nations.
I wanted my play to have a strong plot and interesting characters. Drama and humor. But it would also speak to an important issue - inequality.
In the play, it would have been very easy for me to paint the greedy capitalist as the villain and the union leader as the hero. But I’ve tried to avoid the facile, good versus evil narrative. To some that may be less satisfying. But that’s how I see the world - complex, unfair and often, tragic.
The play is set in the Indian IT industry. I spent more than a decade working there. The industry has lifted millions into a new, urban, professional middle class. My choice of industry as the setting for the play has less to do with fit and more to do with my familiarity with it.
Directing your own play is a bit of a luxury. You can keep tinkering with the lines, even the plot, well after rehearsals have begun. On the other hand, doing a major role in a play that you are directing is no walk in the park. Circumstances forced me to take on the role of Chairman Rao, who is in eight of the sixteen scenes in the play. I would have utterly failed without the help of my fantastic Co-Artistic Director, Sindu Singh. I am very grateful to her.
– Basab Pradhan