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A British Indian filmmaker scores agoal !!
An interview with GurinderChadha, Producer, Director, Scriptwriter of “Bend It LikeBeckham
By Anupama Gopalakrishnan

This isn’t a stereotyped theme of Indian culture do’s and don’ts nor is it a feminist theory blown out of proportion. This is about hot chapattis and a sport like soccer. An unusual formula, isn’t it? 

The lady who created ripples in the Indian film fraternity using this formula was in Birmingham, Michigan last week. Welcome to the land of the new “Indian” cinema set in foreign shores where movies dealing with the identity crisis faced by Indians in America and Britain are being made and promoted with much fanfare. 

And Gurinder Chadha is one of the fresh filmmakers to create a stir in International Cinema and miindia captures this exclusive especially for you!!!

Keeping with her 28th day of her non-stop tour for the premier of her film in the United States after visiting Orlando, Miami, Houston, Dallas, New York, Atlanta, Washington, Toronto…Gurinder Chadha was in Michigan for the first time promoting her new movie “- the most gloriously quirky and delightfully feel-good British Indian movie “Bend It Like Beckham”. The film centers on an Indian girl who idolizes David Beckham; and an English girl who idolizes USA women’s soccer star Mia Hamm. 

This movie produced by Bollywood sweetheart Anupam Kher and written and directed by Gurinder Chadha (Script co-written with friend Guljit Bindra) was released in UK on April 2002 and earned over 11 million pounds at the UK box office. The film topped the box office charts in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and won audience favorite film awards at the Locarno, Sydney and Toronto film festivals, and was nominated for Best Film by the European Film Academy and the Best European Film.

The two girls are desperate to play football and go professional, but they are surrounded by naysayers who say they can’t because it’s not feminine. 

Miindia spoke to Ms. Chadha after a press meet in Birmingham. It was refreshing to note that here was a next-door woman who strongly translated her ideas into films and made a success out of it. So much has been written about the movie, so miindia decided to provide its readers an unusual twist behind a young woman film maker, her passion about cinema and the reason behind “Bend it Like Beckham”? 

Gurinder Chadha was born to Punjabi parents in Kenya who moved to Southall, West London where Chadha grew up. The film is actually set in this backdrop. Chadha had a dream of becoming a “long distance lorry driver”- the reason being she could “drive on without looking back at customs, rules, and traditions.” A lorry according to her was the definition of freedom.

Being a rebel from day one, Chadha mentioned that “Bend It Like Beckham” was her most autobiographical film to date. “The film is based on my adolescence- how I grew up, where I grew up”, explained Chadha.

Chadha with a bachelor’s degree in Development Studies hardly imagined a career in filmmaking.Trained in the field of journalism, Radio & Television documentaries, Chadha gained international fame with her cross-cultural experiment with the immigrant community,

a comedy “Bhaji on The Beach” (Jury prizes at Locarno, a BAFTA nomination for “Best British Film of 1994” and “Best Newcomer to British Cinema”) and What’s Cooking?, a dramatic film based on cultural, familial and social traditions of African-American, Latino, Jewish and Vietnamese families. (This film was the opening night film of the 2000 Sundance Film Festival and also won Chadha the award for the Best British Director in the London Film Critic’s Circle 2001)

Making a film itself is the biggest challenge according to Chadha. “There is no gender involved in filmmaking. There is no big deal about a man or a woman behind the camera”, she said. For Bend It Like Beckham, she reinforced the fact that it is often the financiers who contribute to the many hiccups. “No financier wanted to throw money into my film as they felt that a theme like soccer and chapattis wouldn’t work”, exclaimed Chadha. ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ topped the box-office charts in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Responding to the selection of the movie title “Bend it Like Beckham”, Ms. Chadha explains that, “as an athlete you simply have to admire Beckham’s ability to defy gravity and bend the ball in the way that he does.” 

Miindia offers its readers…Free Passes!
“Bend It Like Beckham”. 
(Thursday 13 March ’03, 7:30 pm at Emagine Theater in Novi].
Hurry! Passes are limited. Passes issued on a first come basis.

She further mentions that, “the title also works as an excellent metaphor for the film as the girls ‘bend’ the rules rather than ‘break’ them so they can get what they want”.

Every Indian filmmaker would have personal favorites when it comes to the star power and charisma. According to Chadha, Shahrukh Khan takes the cake as according to her “he is so gorgeous in real life and an amazing person”. She squeaked with excitement when she had a chance to kiss Shahrukh on his cheek. Another male favorite is Hrithik Roshan for “his physique –those arms are like tree trunks…” she drooled.

When it comes to the beauties of Bollywood, Chadha is looking forward to working with Aishwarya Rai whom she considers as stunning and exceptionally beautiful. But her personal favorite is “Kajol for her histrionics, life and magnetism”.

Chadha’s next venture is a big project with the stunning Aishwarya Rai called Pride & Prejudice. In Chadha’s own words, “this is a big film, big budget and it is set in three different countries which I am personally fond of: America, Britain and India.” This new project is a contemporary adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic where The Bennett’s become the Bakshi’s of Amritsar and so on…

Chadha loves listening to music as she grew up within the Bhangra framework. Bally Sagoo and Bruce Springsteen seem to fill up the majority in her CD rack. Chadha loves Yoga and she finds it to give her immense peace and relaxation.

Chadha was disturbed by the fact that Bend It like Beckham has already been viewed by many inside their homes. The pirated copies of the film can be rented at any Indian grocery store in United States. She said “in Britain, all non-bollywood films will be a pirated copy unless you hear about it in the media.” 

Chadha relentlessly urges people to see Indian cinema at the cinema hall for support and to reassure the filmmakers that the audience vote counts. She reemphasizes the fact that “every movie-goer constitutes an important audience and this may allow filmmakers to provide quality and achieve more international acclaim and success”.

That was Gurinder Chadha for you: the sensible woman behind the camera. Be it a group of youngsters (second generation Indians abroad) who make a hysterical stunt of the Indian campus life in the United States and call it ‘American Desi’, or for our very own immigrant Jimi Mistry in ‘The Guru’ who intends to become a John Travolta but transforms by accident into the Deepak Chopra of sex therapy, “Bend It like Beckham” takes a refreshing look on the kaleidoscope of color and culture that clash humorously as an Indian family in London tries to raise their soccer-playing daughter in a traditional way. Wholeheartedly against Jess’ (protagonist played by Parminder Nagra) unorthodox ambition, her parents eventually reveal that their reservations have more to do with protecting her than with holding her back.

Fox Searchlight Pictures bought the rights out of the 2002 Cannes Film Festival to distribute in the U.S and the film will be premiered for the Michigan Indian community on Thursday, 13 March 2003. [Check for more details]


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