‘FREE WHEELING’ is a dramatic comedy which centres on a group of British Pakistani women rebels. It aims not only to entertain, but also to be inspirational and racially cohesive.
British Pakistani, Rabia Alam, and her friends escape the constraints of their forced marriages when they discover the thrill of mountain biking. But while Rabia is exploring her new freedom, Layla, her 12-year-old daughter, is in serious danger of losing hers…
By Yesmien Bagh Ali & Patrick Dowman
'FREE WHEELING' - the synopsis
'Free Wheeling' is the journey of six British Pakistani women struggling to escape the constraints of their male dominated, closed Asian community. Their predicament is not uncommon in British Muslim communities: the manner of their self-empowerment, however, is less so!
Rabia Alam and her friends Tasleem, Ruksana, Zayda and Salma are pissed off with their lives. All were victims of forced marriages in Pakistan and all have strong marital dissatisfactions! Rabia’s dissatisfaction arrives courtesy of her drunken, overbearing, vindictive husband, Javed.
Rabia rails fruitlessly against her husband's injustices and the largely male generated religious and social conventions which act to reduce the freedoms of herself and her friends. She argues that they don't need a prophet Mohammed so much as an Emily Pankhurst.
Concerned about her mother’s developing depression, daughter, Humera, persuades Rabia to come with her on a mountain bike ride. Reluctantly, Rabia agrees and in so doing rediscovers a childhood joy. She rides the moorland tracks above Bradford and, arriving exhausted at a spectacular summit, glimpses the possibility of a better life. Maybe they don't need a Pankhurst. Maybe they can do the job themselves.
Rabia shares her inspiration with her friends and gradually mountain biking becomes the group's escape route and their passion. Even a young 'imprisoned' wife, Shabana, finds the courage to deceive her abusive husband and join the group. While riding in the Yorkshire dales, they learn of a special mountain bike race and their dream becomes to enter and win. A victory would vindicate their actions and be a statement of their emancipation.
Discreetly helped by a sports-loving local Imam and the Rabia-besotted manager of Asda, the women train hard and imaginatively. Taking the name 'The Suffrajets' , they overcome the problems of suspicious husbands, treachery and an unexpected pregnancy and thanks to an epic waterfall climb and an obliging group of Yorkshire ramblers, take the race.
However, while Rabia and her Suffrajets are busy winning, bad things are happening at home. Husband, Javed, is convinced that his daughters have become shamefully ‘white’. His planned solution is their forcible return to Pakistan and eventual ‘suitable’ marriages.
Humera escapes, but with the help of two gangster cousins, Javed kidnaps his younger daughter, Layla, and heads for Manchester airport. Rabia is warned and the chase is on.
The Suffrajets find their bikes perfect for cutting through Manchester’s grid-locked traffic. Layla, for her part, proves to be a difficult and resourceful victim, eventually tricking Javed into turning up at passport control clutching the wrong girl. Javed dodges the police but runs straight into Rabia's welcoming arms.
Javed is marched away and, after a victory celebration with their bemused husbands, the Suffrajets grab their wheels and head for the hills. They sing as they ride: ‘Yeh Dosti HumNahin Todengethe’. (This Friendship will Never End).
By Yesmien Bagh Ali & Patrick Dowman - Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org