August 14, 2014
In August 2006, 12-year-old Molly Campbell, a mixed-race schoolgirl “disappeared” from Stornoway, in the Outer Hebrides. Her father, British-Pakistani Sajad Rana, who was divorced from her mother, Louise Campbell, had moved back to Pakistan with his older children and wanted Molly to join them. Louise was terrified she would lose her remaining child. When her daughter didn’t come back home, she feared Rana had abducted her and called the police. Louise’s mother publicly said Rana was plotting to marry off the child, adding further piquancy to the rising public outrage about Asian “barbarism”. And then came the startling/shocking finale. At a press conference in Lahore, Molly, dressed in a bright shalwar khameez, cheerfully told journalists that she had left Scotland of her own free will and wanted to live with her dad. She was no longer Molly Campbell, but “Misbah Rana”, a Pakistani Muslim. Long court battles ensued, politicians got involved, and in the end Louise gave up the fight. Most Britons found it hard to understand why the pre-teen gave up her Western freedoms and chose a severely proscribed life. She is now back in the UK and living with her mother.
Actress/writer/director Sudha Bhuchar and director by Philip Osment have created a profound drama out of this crisis, using verbatim interviews with the three protagonists. Their names have been changed: Rana is “Farhan”, Louise is “Suzy” and Molly is “Gaby”. Truths and emotions are revealed here that no journalism can ever reach. It is as powerful as Nicolas Kent’s testimony-based dramatizations of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry and Hutton Inquiry.
Bhuchar was “fascinated by and drawn to the family and what they had lived through. Their personal story seemed to mirror the relationships between communities that make up multiracial Britain and how that relationship has changed and shifted over time.” The company was founded to reflect this shape-shifting, kaleidoscopic Britain.
‘My Name Is…’ by Tamasha is on tour from 12 September to 11 October (tamasha.org.uk)