Kolkata: As Kashmir's all-girls band is forced to stop singing due to threats and fatwas, most stunned by the anger is a group of female folk singers from Iran. In India for their first foreign performances, the women say that Islam doesn't stop women from singing and they have been doing so for years.
Sahar Lotfi was not sure if she wanted to be filmed outside her country without a veil. But she is a musician and music can break barriers. In a country where women are forbidden to perform solo in front of men, she is making the fetters of her government her biggest strength.
"If it wasn't forbidden, if I didn't have to fight my way, I would have probably said I have lots of time to do it, but now I think I have to do it and I have to find a way to perform," Sahar says.
In a country which is reportedly mulling a law to ban single women from travelling abroad without their father's consent, Sahar and five of her friends have travelled from Iran to India with their music. Music, they say, connects their souls and gives them strength.
Tar player Maryam Gharasou said, "Yes there are problems with women and Iran, but we are trying to do what we want as women. It's all that we can do."
Sara comes from Isfahan, a place where women are not allowed to perform in public at all. But she is not thinking of the challenges. Sara Fatros said, "I am not thinking about challenges. I am not thinking about difficulties. I just want to perform. I feel free when I express myself through music."
Music connects two countries, music connects these women, music connects them with strangers and yes even with men.