Dancing Girls of Lahore

A radio play broadcast on January 12th 1998 on BBC Radio 4 in the UK
(The Monday Play).

Written by Sudha Bhuchar and Shaheen Khan


The Independent (London), January 18th 1998

Dancing Girls of Lahore was billed as a play but carried the weight of some heavy research. It was about the proud defendants of the courtesans who used to dance at the courts of the Moghuls. They keep the dancing traditions alive but their families depend for support on rich, unscrupulous men who pay the girls retainers in exchange for discreet sex (sorry, do I mean Relationships?). These graceful, abused women long to be able to offer the next generation of little girls freedom through education, but the corruption of their society makes it nearly impossible. Part anthropology, part social history, an excellent Indian cast ensured that this was also powerful drama.

By Sue Gaisford

The Whispering Tree

A radio play first broadcast on August 6th 1998 on BBC Radio 4 in the UK
(The afternoon play)
(Rebroadcast November 2nd 2006 as part of BBC Radio 7’s Indian Summer Season).

Written by Tanika Gupta

Parminder plays Sharmila


A year after her mother’s death, fourteen year old Sharmila prefers to escape into a world of Hindu myths and legends rather than confront her guilt and pain.

Parminder again portrays a character some years younger than herself, but captures with aplomb the girls passage through an extended grieving process, exacerbated by feelings of guilt at the manner of her mother’s death. While attempting to support her fathers efforts to take the family forward, she continues to ‘converse’ with her mother through the conduit of ‘the whispering tree’, situated in the garden of their house.

Her best friend becomes concerned about Sharmila’s state of mind when she confides about the spiritual discourse in which she continues to engage. The emotional crisis comes to a head when her father announces that his employment necessitates that the family move to a new town.
A relatively simple story, but one that poignantly touches on issues of loss and friendship.

The play was nominated for the 1998 'Race in the Media Awards' (RIMA) in the category of Mixed Media (Children). RIMA was created by the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) in 1992 to encourage informed coverage of race relations, diversity and multiculturalism.

PNO note: Tanika Gupta also authored the stage play 'Skeleton' and the radio drama 'Muse of Fusion' in which Parminder performed.