‘I DON'T UNDERSTAND CROSSOVER FILMS’

There was an infectious excitement in the air as the auditorium at the Dubai Scholars School was filled with students eagerly awaiting the arrival of the famous filmmaker Gurinder Chadha along with her Japanese-American husband Paul Mayeda Berges.

By Vijaya Sukumar (Contributor)

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Published: Thu 9 Dec 2004, 2:51 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:33 AM

Both were visibly moved on being greeted with a standing ovation.

Chadha in the city as part of the Dubai International Film Festival's contingent, delighted her young audience with her sense of humour and friendliness. Chadha journeyed from being a BBC news reporter to directing award-winning documentaries, before making her first film Bend it Like Beckham, which was largely based on her life and experiences. The parental characters portrayed in the film were, she says, similar that of her own. In fact, the father-daughter relationship shown in the film, reflects the relationship she shared with her father. Conflicts regarding cultural identity were part and parcel of each day in the Chadha household, as Gurinder wanted to be different and would refuse to wear Indian clothes. There was a time when she, actually, dyed her hair pink and wore leopard prints! Probably, her own way of expressing who she was until she was able to establish a perfect balance between her Indianness and the Britishness. However, now she dresses up in a manner similar to what she and her films represent — a blend of Indian and Western clothes. According to her, it is only now that third generation Indians in England have reached a level of comfort with their Indian self.

When asked about the stellar performance by the actors in her films, she claims that they are all excited to work in her movies. There is an easy camaraderie between the entire cast and unit members, a lot of fun and bonhomie.

After the international success of Bend it Like Beckham she visited 30-40 countries and was touched by the reactions of the people. She says, "It was an eye-opener for me and showed me how small the world is but yet so big. Emotions reach out to every nationality irrespective of cultures or beliefs. In Bride and Prejudice I have taken the Indian film language and combined it with the British and American heritage, to show Indians staying in the three continents as they truly are — Global Indians. Today South Asians are in a very good position; they have family spread all over the world. So much so that weddings are very much like a United Nations gathering with people from all over the world."

Paul, her Japanese American husband, was asked to reveal an aspect of Gurinder's which was not common knowledge to which he replied, "The nicest thing about Gurinder is that she laughs a lot and she loves music and food." She loves Chinese food and makes it a point to visit the Asian areas in every city she goes. Gurinder's only complaint regarding their relationship is that they get very little leisure time together.

Gurinder says that if she had not become a filmmaker she would have been a pop singer as she is passionate about music. Talking about filmmaking she reveals, "I have the best job in the world and I get a lot of pleasure when I meet people who show appreciation for my work. It gives me immense satisfaction as an Indian woman making movies especially in Britain, documenting our culture, our history, showing what is important about being British and Indian. Bhangra music, which originated in Britain, brought a whole sense of identity to the global Indian. I would say Britain is responsible for the grassroot diasporas Indian. It is my personal bugbear how India tries to claim me, but I was born in Kenya and grew up in Southall, London. In fact when I'm questioned about crossover films, I say I don't understand crossover films, I've always made British films."

Indian, British and American influences find their way into Gurinder's films. Because of who she is, she says, she cannot make a full length Indian movie that translates globally. For her it is essential to reach out not just to the British or Indian audience but people all over the world. She takes the responsibility of being a woman and successful filmmaker very seriously. She says, "It gives me a sense of empowerment to present the female perspective. In Bend it Like Beckham both the girls, though from different cultures, had issues to deal with, both had mothers who expected them to behave in a particular manner. It is very important to show this perspective as it is hardly shown."

Talking about future projects Gurinder is very excited about her next movie 'I Dream of Jeannie' which is a big adventure movie about the discovery of a bottle containing a beautiful female genie. Her husband Paul Berges will be directing a film 'Mistress of Spices' for which she is the producer.



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