The saga of a halal punk-rock band

July 18, 2021

When you think of a punk-rock band, five women with headscarves don’t exactly come to mind

The saga of a halal punk-rock band

In a sea of entertainment that is full of twists and turns, sometimes one needs a break from the chaos of the TV series we are being fed right now. Sometimes, I just need to turn off from the convoluted storylines and watch a show that’s light and airy, with all the important elements that make for a good TV show. We Are Lady Parts is one such show, with the feel-good nature of Schitt’s Creek or F.R.I.E.N.D.S.. British TV really takes the cake, when it comes to laid-back programming.

The show is about a punk-rock band, based in London, comprising of five Muslim women who want to make it big. When you think of a punk-rock band, five women with headscarves don’t exactly come to mind, so that’s breaking the mold in a very exciting way, already. The show is about the trials and tribulations that they face while attempting to take their band to the next level. Amina is the protagonist of the show, around whom most of the storylines revolve. She is a PhD student and a gifted guitarist, but with crippling stage-fright .Her main focus is finding a good Muslim husband. In this she is is encouraged by her best friend, Noor.

Saira, Bisma, Ayesha and Momtaz make up the rest of the band – a struggling underground venture looking for a lead guitarist. They are all going through their own personal struggles as well. When they hold auditions to find their guitarist, Amina finds herself in their crosshairs as the only accidental attendee, when she sees her crush, Ahsan, who is also Ayesha’s brother, distributing fliers for the band’s audition. With Saira’s promise to cure her of her stage-fright and a little bit of bribery involving a date with Ahsan, Amina joins the band and hilarity ensues.

The show is refreshing because of its representation of a core group of people who are, if depicted on TV at all, grossly misrepresented. It is also set in a universe where racism and xenophobia don’t exist, and the few micro-aggressions that are thrown at the characters are dealt with effectively and lightly, resulting in some pretty funny moments.

The show also deals with a lot of things that South Asian or Muslim women at large have to go through. Amina puts pressure on herself to find a husband, before it’s too late. Saira’s family rejects her when she chooses punk-rock as her ultimate goal in life, which leads her to become emotionally closed off. Bisma struggles to be a good mother and role model to her daughter, all the while trying to educate her slightly misogynistic husband. Ayesha struggles to accept her sexuality. Momtaz remains a boss throughout, and her actions are what move the story forward, like putting the band in touch with the duplicitous Zarina, who catches Ayesha’s eye, and gets them a gig at a white supremacist’s bar.

Another good part of the show is the music that We Are Lady Parts made. It’s funny and poignant. Voldemort under my headscarf ridicules the fear that the outside world has of the hijab. Their performances, accented by Momtaz jumping around while vaping, with smoke escaping through the gaps in her burqa, made the show all the more hilarious.

One of the few issues about the show was how short it was, which made the stories feel a little rushed. You can only cover so much in six episodes, and it would have been nice to have interesting characters like Momtaz fleshed out a bit more. It also would have been nice if the hypocrisy of those who called the makers of We Are Lady Parts “bad Muslims” was addressed by the show. It would have added another layer, but the show runners just took the criticism in stride and the story moved on from it, which seemed to be a privilege of where they live.

At its core, We Are Lady Parts is about friendships and how people in one’s surroundings can help one grow, either in a positive or a negative way. The show is also about accepting oneself, flaws, contradictions and all, and succeeding in spite of them. With only six, 20-minute episodes, it is extremely binge-able and will leave you wanting more.

The writer is a dentist who practices in Lahore

The saga of a halal punk-rock band