MISS NIKKI AND THE TIGER GIRLS mirrors the remarkable change that has taken place in Myanmar (Burma) since shooting began over two years ago. Through its exploration of five young women breaking free of tradition in their search for an original voice, the film provides a powerful metaphor for a country suddenly thrust onto the world stage.
In September 2010 the people who have been living under a repressive military regime for over 50 years and survived the brutal crackdown in 2007 are looking with tired cynicism at the prospect of yet another bogus election that will return the military to power.
Against this backdrop The Tiger Girls are born out of an unholy alliance between Miss Nikki, an artistic and ambitious Australian free spirit, and Peter Thein, a hard headed Burmese entrepreneur out to make a buck. But it’s not going to be easy. Wai Hnin is tone deaf and prone to panic attacks, Htike Htike can’t dance, Ah Moon is an over-achieving control freak and everyone thinks Kimmy is ugly – even if she does have the best voice. The last band member Cha Cha, struggles with her controlling father, a military captain. But when Nikki puts these 5 girls together she knows they’ve got something special.
As the girls sing for their supper following the copy track tradition that is the modern music industry in Myanmar things start to unravel when they fail to deliver on the correct “look” and submissive performance style. So Peter Thein fires them. They want to keep the name “Tiger Girls.” He says he will sue.
By the time Aung San Suu Kyi is released from house arrest The Tiger Girls have started working on original songs. This is a radical departure for the local music industry and a huge financial risk for Nikki who with her boyfriend Chris, is bankrolling the recording of the album and the all-important video clips that accompany each song. They change their name to Me N Ma Girls.
As Aung San Suu Kyi begins to flex her political muscles again political prisoners are released, censorship relaxed and the country looks with cautious optimism to its first free election in April 2012. Meanwhile the band release their first album of original songs and the girls are being booked for gigs around the country. As the country holds the April 1 by-election, Aung San Suu Kyi wins her seat and her party the NDP takes another 45. The girls collaborate to write “Come Back Home” a song that calls for exiles to return to Burma.
Nikki discovers she is pregnant and with the girl’s increasing independence obvious, she decides it’s time to go home. But not before she drops one more bombshell. The band has been offered a recording contract in L.A. But will this Hollywood ending deliver them the freedom they desire?
The story of the Tiger Girls and their journey towards self-expression is an uplifting look at Girl Power against all the odds. Using songs written by the girls to progress the narrative, their search for freedom of expression mirrors the tentative steps their country is taking to do the same thing.