Sudha Bhuchar as Gulabo in rehearsals for Untouchable

“The audiences and artists are ready so it's up to the theatres and TV producers to catch up...”
Sudha Bhuchar

Shy girl who grew up to launch stage stars

by Elizabeth Hopkirk
Evening Standard | 26 May 2005

As a child she was so painfully shy she could barely look people in the eye. But, dragged along to an afterschool drama club by her outgoing older sister, Sudha Bhuchar discovered her voice on the stage.

And now, more than 30 years on, Ms Bhuchar has become a champion of Asian talent through the theatre company she co-founded with Kristine Landon-Smith. Tonight the pair will be honoured at the Asian Women of Achievement Awards, hosted by actress Meera Syal, at the Hilton Hotel on Park Lane. They are in the running for an award for their contribution to art and culture. Other awards will salute areas from commerce to science.

Ms Bhuchar, 42, and Ms Landon-Smith, 47, founded Tamasha Theatre Company in 1989 to stage an adaptation of Mulk Raj Anand's novel Untouchable. Since then Southwark-based Tamasha - "commotion" in Hindi - has been behind hits including the stage show of East Is East and the Bollywood musical Fourteen Songs, Two Weddings And A Funeral.

Tamasha is also responsible for launching the careers of a string of Asian actors, including Chris Bisson and Parminder Nagra, the star of Bend It Like Beckham now appearing in ER. Ms Bhuchar and Ms Landon-Smith have launched a professional development programme for writers, designers, directors and actors. Ms Bhuchar said Asian artists still struggled to get their work performed.

"The audiences and artists are ready so it's up to the theatres and TV producers to catch up. I have no idea why they haven't made the leap," she said. "There's a marketing obsession with presenting Asian culture as if it's a new discovery every time."

Almost 50 Asian women have been shortlisted for awards. Other finalists include Kim Hollis, the first female Asian QC, and Luftun Hussain, founder of the Coriander Club at Spitalfields City Farm, where Bangladeshi women can grow their own vegetables.

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