Wednesday, 9 May 2012

‘Iron Lady of Manipur’ featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

An Indian woman who has spent the past 12 years on hunger strike in protest at a law giving special powers to the armed forces has been featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

Irom Sharmila Chanu began fasting in November 2000 in the northeastern state of Manipur and has been force fed through a pipe in her nose.

She has been calling for the government to withdraw the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

The government says the Act is required to combat lawlessness in the state but rights groups claim it has been used by police, paramilitary and army troops to commit scores of human rights violations.

The Ripley's website displayed a cartoon of the 40-year-old activist, describing her as “the iron lady of Manipur”.

Ms Chanu's action has made her an iconic figure in Manipur; a state with a population fo about 2.5 million people and large numbers of army, paramilitary and police troops who have been fighting a number of insurgent groups since 1980.

Ms Chanu's embarked on her hunger strike after soldiers from a paramilitary outfit allegedly killed 10 young men in November 2000.

She has been arrested many times and taken to hospital where she has been force-fed a liquid diet in a bid to keep her alive.

- UKAsian Staff

'Wah! Wah! Girls!' to vow London with Bollywood colour

2012 has already seen a number of attempts by filmmakers looking to marry Bollywood sensibilities with British mores, with less-than-piquant results.

Later this month, Sadlers Wells, Theatre Royal Stratford East and Kneehigh Productions will attempt to bring the same combination to the theatre stage with ‘Wah! Wah! Girls’.

Written by British Bengali playwright Tanika Gupta and set in multicultural East London, ‘Wah! Wah! Girls’ is a story inspired by Mujra; a sensuous dance form which first originated during Mughal rule in India, when courtesans in colourful costumes would entertain the rich and powerful, adding to the opulence that marked the era.

For the play, Gupta transports the opulent world of Mujra to the East End of 2012, where it comes into conflict with the new world full of streetwise kids whose sensibilities have been shaped by RnB and Hip Hop.

That clash of ages is played out by the two central – female – characters.

And like any tale inspired by Bollywood, ‘Wah Wah Girls!’ has a love story at its core.  Unlike Bollywood however, the producers have stayed true to the spirit of the setting – in this case, London’s East End – complete with a corner shop and a Polish builder.

Apart from Gupta, ‘Wah Wah Girls!’ features the work of composer Niraj Chag, about whom BBC One recently gushed: “some of the most beautiful British Asian music ever created has come from this man!”

And the cast includes Kathak dancer Gauri Sharma Tripathi – the Southbank Centre’s wonderful artist in residence, most recently seen in the Raghu Dixit Project’s new production at Alchemy – whilst the choreography is by Bollywood dance hot shot Javed Sanadi.

Those exciting talents will be shepherded by director Emma Rice, artistic director of Kneehigh Productions; the acclaimed, Cornwall-based theatre company renowned for the surrealism of its productions. 
The title evokes a feeling of splendour and brilliance.

Given the talent on show and its premise, ‘Wah, Wah, Girls! is sure to thrill.

-    Poonam Joshi

‘Wah Wah Girls’ will be at The Curve theatre in Leicester (01162423595) May 16th to 19th.  The production will be at the Peacock Theatre, London WC2 (08444124300) from May 24th.