The Bend It Like Beckham director, Gurinder Chadha, has signed a deal with Disney to make a musical feature, inspired by a historical Indian princess. At an in-conversation here at the Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah, she said she had also been collaborating with a Saudi production house to make a local version of her popular British work, Bend It Like Beckham.
Born in Kenya and moved to the UK from East Africa in the 1960s, she speaks Punjabi, but makes movies in English. However, she plans to make one in her mother tongue. She would like to have the Munna Bhai MBBS veteran Sanjay Dutt on board. “One of my favourite actors is Sanjay. I met his sister Priya Dutt and told her that I absolutely loved her brother. She told me he loved speaking Punjabi. And I said, ‘That’s it, I am going to make a film with him in Punjabi. I’ve come up with a great idea, now I need a Punjabi scriptwriter, so we can sit down and write it.”
During her talk, she focussed on her career which began as a BBC news reporter. Later she did documentaries, before venturing out to features, like Bhaji on the Beach, Bride and Prejudice and Viceroy’s House.
Speaking about her early years, she said, “Growing up in Britain, we were always sort of East African Indians, as opposed to Indians from India, which meant we were twice migrants. And that is an important detail because Indians from India are different from Indians from Kenya.
“I grew up with this amazing cultural support network, but I was also very British. I remember at school, British people didn’t know how to handle this. They would always look at people like me and go, ‘Oh, poor things. They’re suffering from an identity crisis.
“I was always from a very young age cognitive of the fact that other people were putting problems on me. Particularly, people who were monocultural and monolingual. They have a hard time looking at people who are multicultural and multilingual because it’s not part of their vernacular, there’s a whole set of assumptions. Britain’s changed a lot since then, now it embraces that.”
She averred, “All my films are very much about taking that cultural experience of being at the crossroads of different cultures, different generations, but not telling those stories in a problematic way, telling them in a very human way, from my perspective, because I embody all those sides, and so I can talk about the problems, but also celebrate the good stuff.”
Chadha said, “I have launched some nice careers. I’ve made stars. Keira Knightley in Bend It Like Beckham. She came in and auditioned. It was her first big movie. French actress, Leïla Bekhti. She was in my episode of Paris Je t’aime. She had just started,” she recalled. “The next James Bond, we hope, Aaron Taylor Johnson, who was in my film Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging,” she added.
The Festival runs till December 10.
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