Why are Asian girls and women judged so harshly if they choose to exert their individuality? Why are they seen as losers if they have not married by the age of 40? Why is there so much pressure placed on women to have children, boys in particular? What has such anxiety and imbalance done to our society and world?
Mishti Gals pokes fun while challenging social conventions that crush the human spirit. Spirited dialogue merges with the songs and poetry of Rabindranath Tagore and Lalon to an up-to-the-minute, metropolitan beat. Inspired by the play, Sonata, by Mahesh Elkunchwar, the drama invites us to reconsider our assumptions about Asian women's age, marital status and sexual lives.
Review by Rahima Begum
Director of Restless Beings
'The characters were believable, funny and sincere in their delivery, the stage was perfectly thought out and the timing and humour and dialogue poignant and relevant.'
"I really enjoyed the boldness of play.It presented Bengali women in ways we don't usually see on stage. There was a freedom to each character."
ENVISAGING STRONG AND SINGLE
The brutal rape of the woman who came to be called Nirbhaya (Fearless) in New Delhi in 2012 was a recent wake-up call for urban women as it was for 'feminist men'. Even though violence continues and the backlash is brutal, artists rose to the challenge. Read about it in Raminder Kaur's article 'Envisaging Strong and Single' for HERA, now extended and published in Signs: Journal of Women in Society and Culture. Read Raminder's paper on domestic violence in Mishti Gals in Special Issue on Mapping Gendered Violence edited by Anastasia Christou in Frontiers. All papers are available here.
Saima plays an irrepressible, footloose ‘media whore’ who is about as subtle as a tornado and takes no prisoners.
Saima is an actor, writer and director. Theatre credits include Waiting for Godot in Bengali, Come and Go, Meghnad Bodh (The Slaying of Meghnad), Juta Abishkar, Taming of the Shrew, and street theatre with the British Council international programme.
Saida plays a bitter-sweet city worker who finds solace for her dark secrets in song, shopping, wine and never-ending diets.
Saida is an internationally accomplished singer/songwriter and stage performer. Her theatre credits include Silent Sisters, The Altab Ali Story and Umrao Jaan, and TV credits include Thikana.
Urmee plays a prudish lecturer who is afraid to love, preferring to live with her knitting and ancient studies in Brexit Green.
Urmee is a TV personality since the first launch of Bangla TV in 1999. She works currently as a producer and presenter for ATN Bangla UK. She has performed with several theatre groups in Bangladesh as well as in the UK.
Director Mukul Ahmed and actor Saima Ahmed talk to Amol Rajan on BBC Asian Network about Mishti Gals characters, the challenges faced by British Asian artists and women, and theatre with a difference.
'I really enjoyed the boldness of the play. It presented Bengali women in ways we don't usually see on stage. There was a freedom to each character.'
'I think the all-female audience was a great idea.'
'I really found the songs and dancing beautiful and inspiring. The mixture of languages worked really well and added a layer of honesty and reality.'
Shuyi Li is a BA Drama student at Queen Mary University London, and collaborated with Raminder Kaur to produce this short film for Mishti Gals. Shuyi makes films out of her personal interests, having already made promos, recordings of theatre performances, and a short film on a factory in China. CONTACT
doesn't harbour secrets?
'I liked that women can do anything - strong, resilient. I want more like this for our generation.'
Mishti Gals was performed in Pinter Hall in East London as part of A Season of Bangla Drama 2016. To reach out to new theatre-goers, one of the performances was arranged for an all-female audience.
'I thought it was very beautiful and if you do more plays like this, I will always come.'