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Last Updated: Monday, 20 December, 2004, 11:02 GMT
Profile: Playwright Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti
Critics have marked out Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti as a playwright to watch - be it as a fresh, original or provocative voice in British theatre.

Poster for Behzti
Behzti is Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti's second play
Born in Watford, she has mixed acting with writing and has two plays plus work on scripts for Crossroads and EastEnders to her name.

She has focused on writing and started her career working on the World Service soap Westway as one of six writers.

She also took a drama writers' course run by TV company Carlton, which was preparing to make a new version of TV soap Crossroads and asked her to come on board.

Ms Bhatti was on the script team when it launched in 2001, and has also worked on EastEnders.

Speaking about writing Asian storylines in TV soaps in 2003, she said: "I believe if your heart is in the right place, if you ask the right questions, if you make the right choices, anybody can write about anything.

"It is just about doing it with sensitivity and care and passion."

She has also had a long association with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, beginning a writer's attachment scheme there in 1998.

Bhatti worked on TV soap Crossroads when it relaunched
Her first play, Behsharam (Shameless), opened there in October 2001 before moving to the Soho Theatre in London.

It was met with mixed reviews from critics, many of whom likened the plot of two teenage girls in a dysfunctional British-Asian family to a TV soap.

Involving family feuds, prostitution, racial tensions, drug abuse and a fixation with The Carpenters, it was a tragi-comic tale described as "disturbing" and "shocking".

The Birmingham Post said Bhatti was "undoubtedly a comic talent with a furious imagination and interesting things to say about race, women and tradition".

And Time Out magazine said Behsharam showed Bhatti was "a promising writer" but there were too many "gaps where she doesn't entirely get to grips with her subject matter".

In 2003, she was nominated for a Race in the Media award in the radio music/entertainment category for North East South West.

Bhatti says soaps should tackle the realities of multiracial Britain
Her second play, Behzti (Dishonour) followed earlier this month, causing outrage among many Sikhs for its portrayal of sex abuse and murder in a temple.

In it, a woman and her sick mother go to the temple for the first time in years. The Birmingham Rep says they become immersed in "a world of desperate aspiration and dangerous deals".

It was "a black comedy which offers insight into the British Asian experience", said The Guardian before the current furore blew up.

And the Birmingham Post praised the first part of the production - but said Bhatti lost her way once the story moved into the temple, when "the play suddenly loses its subtlety and becomes a bloodbath".

"She clearly has great dramatic skill, creating some lovely moments of tension and some highly memorable characters... but in many ways these talents are wasted as the tale disappears into mayhem," it said.

Bhatti's future projects include an hour-long film for BBC One, The Cleaner, and her first feature film, Pound Shop Boys.

She is also working for Kali Theatre, Maya Productions and the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester.

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