How MTV's Angels of Rock brought forward stories of empowered women from all over India
There are four bike riders.
There's Bollywood music.
And there's on epic road trip.
If that wasn't engaging enough, then the bikers in question are successful female playback singers. These four riders embarked on a road trip across India to celebrate the true meaning of Indian womanhood and in hopes of increasing their fans on Indian television.
This is the premise of Angels of Rock, an MTV reality show focused on the four singers traversing through India with an all female crew following them. The content aims to showcase the power of Indian women, celebrating stories of achievement of women across the country’s cities, towns and villages. The show takes them to an all-woman radio station in a village in Gujarat, to meet female rickshaw drivers of Haryana in their famed Gulabi Autos, and to visit an inspiring young lady sarpanch among others. Each episode also showcases an original song.
The four 'angel' bikers are Shalmali Kholgade (best known for singing tracks like 'Pareshaan' and 'Balam Pichkari'), Akasa Singh, who was a part of Mika's band, and is a proud Punjabi who won the India's Raw Star competition, Jasmine Sandlas, who was last heard singing 'Raat Jashan Di' with Yo Yo Honey Singh, and Anusha Mani of 'Gulaabo' fame. The show, which debuted on MTV on 31 July 2016, showcases its finale on 9 October 2016 on MTV India.
We caught up with the four girls before their final episode hit TV screens this Sunday. Excerpts from the conversation:
On how they felt about the travel experience:
Shalmali Kholgade thought that her Angels of Rock travel experience was very different from the travelling opportunities that she gets at work — which according to her are 'a mere game of khokho'. She says, "Shooting for Angels of Rock had us living and interacting with the locals — an experience that filled me with buckets of emotions. It was overwhelming to watch the landscapes changing as we rode through the different states and peeped into the lives of the women achievers in each place we stopped at. India has so much to offer, even a lifetime wouldn't suffice to explore it."
For Anusha Mani, the show has been a life changing experience. She says, "My experience of travelling through India has been spectacular. From meeting such warm and lovely people to seeing different cultures to seeing the landscape change, it was truly an enriching experience. I always believed that women are stronger than perceived and are capable of a lot more but to see so many other women believe that too and make a difference was truly inspiring."
Has the way they perceive Indian women changed after doing the show?
Kholgade says, "I would say it has in parts. We knew at the onset that we were going to meet women achievers but it was another layer added when we interacted with them and got an understanding of why they chose their respective professions. There was a common denominator amongst them all — service to society. It wasn't so much individualistic success or power that drove these women but in view of a better society for others like them to live within."
Akasa Singh feels this show was more about gender equality than feminism, more about how women are doing almost everything that the world thought only men are capable of doing. She says, “From having a personal experience of riding a 250 kg bike to witnessing the experience of women who fight fires, who run a village as a sarpanch, who ride autos for a living, who play a male-oriented sport. It taught me that a lot of things I have heard or seen or learnt as a child were untrue. 'Tu ladki hai, Tu nahi kar payegi' is something I will never believe in ever again.”
Has the show changed their perspective on life?
Jasmine Sandlas said she felt like a different person after doing the show: "In this era of self obsession, it was refreshing to focus on someone else's glory. I loved talking to these women who have had to persevere through so much and still be victorious. It was beautiful to see the bond among the groups of women that we met. I felt inspired every day that I met a woman with a dream. It was an honour to write stories about women empowerment that will continue to inspire Indian women."
Akasa Singh feels blessed to be able to represent the youth of India, "I also got to be inspired and share my inspiration with the world through the music I created on the journey. I faced a lot of fears, I gained a lot of confidence, I learnt a lot of flaws and a few things to love about myself from these women that we got to spend time on."