A fantasy and anime fan, Singh uses humour to explore darker themes. Shot on location at The Wine Cellar in St Kevins Arcade. Photo / Dean Purcell.
A fantasy and anime fan, Singh uses humour to explore darker themes. Shot on location at The Wine Cellar in St Kevins Arcade. Photo / Dean Purcell.
Joanna Wane talks to fight club fan Ankita Singh about badass women and her new neo-noir action comedy Basmati Bitch
Even as a kid, Ankita Singh had a sneaking suspicion she might just be one of the coolest people in the room, despite — or possibly because — she was definitely one of the weirdest.
Picture her as the 7-year-old girl who turned up at primary school in Hamilton, a super-introverted super-nerd fresh off the boat from India, still learning to read and write Hindi, let alone English. “I had glasses. I was really overweight. I had big, bouffy hair. I’d put my feet over my head, and draw all the time,” she says.
“Yeah, I was just a weirdo. I was begging to get bullied. So, obviously, I got bullied by everyone. The South Asians, the white people, the people of colour. I was really into anime and fantasy because real life was so depressing.
“But this is the thing, I never felt ashamed of being Indian, because I was getting bullied for just being kind of weird. And I don’t know … I have a bit of an ego. I was like, ‘They’re the problem.’”
Now 27, with a background in producing and a master’s degree in screenwriting she completed in lockdown, Singh is about to open her first play, Basmati Bitch, at Auckland’s Q Theatre. Bookings have been so strong for the “neo-noir action/crime comedy” that its run has already been extended by a week.
Incredibly, it’s the first time a South Asian woman has been commissioned to write a full-length play in New Zealand. And, like last year’s brilliant season of Nathan Joe’s Scenes from a Yellow Peril (another Auckland Theatre Company production), there’s nothing reverential or well-behaved about it. “It’s a kind of a power fantasy for South Asian women,” she says. “For all women, really. It feels good to be bad, sometimes. It feels really f***ing good.”
The story’s setting is a neon-lit, dystopian future beyond the tipping point for climate change. Global trade wars have created a black market for rice and New Zealand — plagued by constant monsoon-like rains — is in the grip of a totalitarian government.
Despite some gritty underlying themes (people smuggling, exploited migrant workers, the collapse of society), Basmati Bitch is a crime caper at heart, with choreographed stage combat and a pan-Asian ensemble cast playing multiple roles. Shiva and Bisma, the lead female characters, are flawed antiheroes. During early table reads, even the actors were shocked by some of the plot twists. “It’s meant to be morally grey,” Singh says, with a shrug. “They’re not supposed to be good.”
You can read the rest of the article on the NZ Herald site - you may have to subscirbe to read the full article. 

You may also like

Back to Top