Caught Between Two Countries and Two Cultures

The plight of an 1940s Anglo-Indian family highlights Brexit fears of multi-national UK families created by free movement of EU nationals.

Between the Two

Between the Two, is about what happened to one of Indian’s many minority groups at the end of the British Raj and the separation of Pakistan from the rest of British India.

Anglo-Indians

Over more than 200 years of British rule many British people had formed relationships with Indian people. The children of these marriages created a new social group in the caste dominated Indian culture; Anglo-Indians.

At the time of independence this group found themselves caught Between the Two. Not white enough to be British and for many Indians an unfortunate reminder of a hated colonial past.

Directors’ family

Between the Two follows the director’s own Anglo-Indian family as they travel from India to the UK in the hope of a new life in the country they have been brought up to view as the mother country.

The drama starts with the family embarking in Bombay and ends with a much-changed family disembarking in the UK.

On the way, we learn about how life in Indian changed, their hopes and fears for the future and the tensions this all creates within the family.

Promised lands

Through the comments of the ship’s crew I realise that the UK might not be equipped to fulfil the expectations of this prodigal family.

It brings to mind the news reports of interviews with asylum seekers talking about why they are striving to reach the UK and other European countries, when I know that they will not find streets that are paved with the gold in the way that they have been led to believe.

Too much information

Some scenes in Between the Two are set on the ship, some as glimpses of what they expect life will be like in the UK and others as flashbacks to what life was like in India.

It is a format that I am used to seeing on the big and small screen, where the opportunity to completely change costumes, scenery, and background sound makes it easy for my brain to adapt. On stage, with a small cast it is not as straight-forward.

The story is compelling. It could easily make one of those must-not- miss Sunday night drama series that British TV do so well, but there is just so much information that my brain finds it difficult to cope. I am sure that at some point it switches off. Other people tell me that they had the same experience.

Creating care

For this type of family sage to succeed it must make the audience care about the plight of the family.

I am not sure how, but with tears on my cheek I know that I do care what has happened to this family in India and sad about what I am all too uncomfortably aware of what might happen to them in the UK.

Modern day lessons

The writer of Between the Two hoped to examine what happens to people when international boundaries are redrawn.

Between the Two is on a tour that marks 2017 as the UK-India year of Culture. This is an initiative intended in part to reconnect the UK with Commonwealth countries in preparation for the UK leaving the European Union.

Poignantly it is also the weekend when the Yorkshire Post Magazine publishes a feature about Yorkshire families that have been created as a result of the free movement of people around the European Union.

The plight of Anglo-Indians portrayed in Between the Two also makes me wonder what will happen to these families post Brexit?