Gurinder Chadha Curated

British Film director

CURATED BY :  

This profile has been added by users(CURATED) : Users who follow Gurinder Chadha have come together to curate all possible video, text and audio interview to showcase Gurinder Chadha's journey, experiences, achievements, advice, opinion in one place to inspire upcoming directors. All content is sourced via different platforms and have been given due credit.

  • What’s the key to working with younger actors?

    I try not to be intimidating; there’s so much going on around them that is intimidating. At the same time, I try to create this atmosphere where it’s okay to laugh and it’s okay to have fun.

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  • Does the audience appeal of your films mean you ever have to compromise your own vision?

    I set out to get as wide an audience as possible but I do that in my choice of film, the script and the casting. Then, once the movie starts, I make it for myself. The film has to be your own; if it works for me, then I’m happy.

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  • Did you think that motherhood changed your approach to directing?

    Possibly yes. I do lots of things differently now, like crossing the road. I wait for the ‘green man’ before I cross the road. Everything means more and is so much more emotionally loaded.

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  • You were working on a couple of high profile Hollywood movies that seemed ready to go prior to Angus. What happened with I Dream Of Jeannie?

    There was a problem with casting. Kate Hudson was in one minute and then she was out. That was all to do with studio politics.

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  • You’ve tried your hand at working in America. Does that still appeal to you?

    I get offered things there all the time but I really have to think about it, because my heart does belong here. If I can make films that are culturally British but can appeal to anyone around the world I’d be happiest. There’s no reason why we can’t make more British films that are our stories, that can compete with Hollywood films.

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  • It still took a few years for your next film to be made. Was that down to the state of the British film industry at the time?

    Partly, but also I wasn’t as savvy as I am now in terms of what kind of films get funded. Also I wasn’t a writer, I was a director. That period forced me to become a writer, because I wanted to read the scripts that I wanted to make. "Once the movie starts, I make it for myself. The film has to be your own."

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  • Could you have envisaged the successful, international, directorial career you’ve enjoyed when you were making Bhaji On The Beach?

    No. When I was shooting Bhaji On The Beach, I thought if I made a movie that held together I’d be happy. If it was good, that was a bonus. It was a real baptism of fire because of course I’d only done documentaries before, so I really did learn on the job.

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  • So how do you think, they view you?

    I suppose my ‘rep’ as they call it there, is that I can make films that bring audiences in. They are warm films and they can appeal to more than one ‘quadrant’, in their language.

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  • Have you ever felt constrained in your career by labels placed upon you, whether it be ‘female director’ or ‘Anglo Asian filmmaker’?

    I think in America they don’t look at it like that. They think ‘do your films make money?’, and that’s the category. You’re either in that category and bring audiences in, or you win awards and get the critical impact but don’t expect to make too much money.

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  • What can you tell me about your animated project Pashmina and the superhero film you’re said to be working on?

    I’m working on quite a few things. I have a slate. Pashmina will be the first diaspora Asian animation. It’s for Netflix who are building a big animation studio. We’re working with a wonderful woman who worked on Pixar’s Toy Story 3 and Coco. I wanted to do it because I’ve never done it before, but it’ll take a few years. With the superhero film, you’ve actually pulled me away from it today (laughs), I’m literally on it right now. I’ve been working on writing it for a while and I’m very excited by it. But it’s a challenge, it’s a lot of money. The great thing about it is it’s a very powerful idea and it’s very now, and again it’s my point of view and no one else thinks like me.

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  • Do you also often get asked why you haven’t made a Bollywood film yet?

    I do and never say never but I just can’t make a film for the masses. I don’t have the sensibility for that. But there have been some great films which aren’t necessarily for the masses. Vicky Donor was a great film and I think that had the potential to crossover internationally if it had been re-edited slightly. If they bought me in on that film and got me in a cutting room, I could’ve made a version that would have travelled outside India. But there are very few films that are like that. I think PK is a good one as well. But I do have a project right now which is Hindi language.

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  • Back in 2008, you were almost signed on to direct Hollywood film Dallas which had an all-star cast including Jennifer Lopez, John Travolta and Luke Wilson but the film fell through. Do you ever wonder where you’d be had that film taken off?

    Oh yes, I think things would’ve been very different. The film was very funny, and I think it would have been very good. But then I think there was a danger of me becoming a director for hire in America and that wasn’t necessarily what I wanted to do at that point. I also then fell pregnant and had my children so I needed to be around the kids. Then I made the Paramount movie Angus Thongs and then I made my comedy horror film It’s A Wonderful Afterlife which no one saw but again was very ahead of its time in my opinion. I think that will be rediscovered in time. It’s a very Punjabi horror film but it came out at a time where everyone was like ‘oh but we want to see Bend It Like Beckham again’. But I often do get asked to do Hollywood projects and I just think ‘is this what I should be using my voice for at this moment?’

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  • Is there a downside to having access to multiple audiences and being known in different markets? Does everyone expect different things from you?

    There’s definitely that, but I think that’s part of the territory of who I am. There’s no one else like me and so I think what I do can’t be measured. The only other filmmaker who is a bit like me is Ang Lee. He’s Chinese American so he always has his Chinese side which is why he can make Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, but at the same time make a Hulk. He’s part of the diaspora directors and there are very few. There’s a French guy call Rachid Bouchareb who made a film called Cheb back in the 90s that not many people know about. It had a massive impact on me. It was about Parisian Tunisians who go back to Tunisia and are treated very differently to how they were treated in Paris. I think there’s a dearth of that and I think sometimes people look at me and see me as Indian and think I should do this and other people see me as British and think I should do that. But I’m this unique voice who does it the way I like to do it and there aren’t enough people who write about film who understand that distinction. Often in India, I used to have arguments with people because they used to keep saying ‘why do you keep making these films about racism, you’re just causing trouble’. I used to say ‘but in India you lot don’t realise how parochial you are. You don’t get to decide what is Indian. You think you do but you don’t. I get to decide it on in my terms’. And a good example of that is the whole Bhangra music scene. That was us, we did that in Britain. That was a completely British Asian concept and movement that went to India and transformed the whole Indian music scene. And I think now with Netflix and everything, people are trying to chase that international thing more and I already have a global audience. My Name Is Khan is a good example. A lovely film for India and if you’re invested in Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol, but for the West, they weren’t quite sure what this is. For me, Bride and Prejudice was me trying to introduce that genre to the West, so it wasn’t really for India.

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  • Your last film Viceroy’s House faced some pretty strong divided opinions on the approach you took to depict Partition and British rule in India. What did you make of that criticism?

    I think it’s interesting to see if it’s Indians having an issue with it or non-Indians. If you’re Indian, of course, you’d want a much more hard-hitting film. But because we’re British and were making a British film, I made it in a way that was for me about exposing what was happening. It was enough for me to have the twist at the end to say ‘everything you thought was true isn’t true and actually this is what happened’. For me, that was more interesting as a British film than something like some of the scenes from 1942: A Love Story which is a lovely film but the British guy in it was a complete caricature. That would have been an easier film to make for India. The film I made was more about the inability of India’s leaders at the time to actually work out how they were being played by the British, and that’s not necessarily the story that Indians, or Pakistanis for that matter, want to hear. Also, people in India never got to see Viceroy’s House the way I made it. It was never released in English which is what it was meant for. I was very upset with Reliance and Phantom who I feel did me a great disservice by not releasing the film in English. We were always going to do a Hindi version, but that would be in conjunction with the version I made because it wasn’t made for a Hindi speaking audience.

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  • Many of your films are based on the inter-generational conflict between Asian parents and their kids struggling for freedom. Do you think that will always be around to make fodder for great movies?

    Yeah, it’s universal. That’s why Blinded was loved by so many people. It’s not because they’re Pakistani or that father-son relationship, it’s because everyone wants to please their parents and it doesn’t always happen. It didn’t happen to Bruce Springsteen. His dad never said to him, ‘Well done, son. I’m proud of you’ and that’s what messed him up. Indian parents don’t often say ‘I love you’. They do it in different ways. My dad was an ardent feminist and he used to always put me and my sister on a pedestal and that’s what I showed in Bend It Like Beckham. I had an upbringing where I was allowed to be all the things I was, but like everybody, I ducked and dived and hid things from my parents because that’s just how you do it. And it’s been an endless source of drama for me to mine and I continue to mine it because you realise just how universal that is. But now I’m a parent and over the years I’ve turned into the mum from Bend It Like Beckham (laughs). I started off as the girl and now I’ve turned into the mum.

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  • Blinded By The Light is set in the 80s and over the last few years, there seems to be a trend of nostalgia-fuelled films being set in the past. Why do you think that is?

    I think that’s always happened, I don’t think it’s a new thing. People are always going back and setting films in the past. But I think every film you make whether it’s present or period has to say something about the world you’re living in today. The reason I chose to make Blinded was because of what was happening with Brexit and how that felt similar to some of the things that were happening in the 80s. I have for the longest time believed I should make films that change society and make it a more tolerant place. I think comes from me being British Asian. But when I decided to make this film, I didn’t realise just how much it would resonate in terms of how much these narratives around race developed in America and Britain. But it’s not an arthouse film, it’s a commercial film. I wanted to make sure it was steadfastly uncynical. I just felt that was a statement I needed to make right now. There has to be hope. I wanted to make sure people came away feeling uplifted. Most films are quite cheesy but don’t do that powerful political thing as well. And Indians are used to this kind of storytelling because it’s a film that makes you laugh and also cry as well, but I think non-Indians aren’t and it’s unusual for them because they’re not used to having films with a gambit of emotions.

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  • People tend to associate you with a certain kind of feel-good British Asian movie. Does that ever bother you?

    I think it happens with all directors and artists. People associate you with what they relate to. The people who saw Beckham would never have seen Bhaaji On The Beach even though they’re similar films. And people always just want me to make Beckham over and over again but at the same time, enough people also want me to make a Bollywood movie and also an Angus, Thongs And Perfect Snogging again. The thing is when you make a film people relate to, it’s an emotional relationship, and they want more of it which is understandable. But as a creative person, you don’t want to repeat yourself. What’s interesting about Blinded By The Light is that people come up to me and tell me how much they cried in the film which is wonderful. They didn’t in Beckham so it’s a different kind of appreciation.

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  • When the movie Yesterday came out, were you worried at all about any perceived similarities in the story with your film?

    Yeah, I was actually a little bit, but I know Danny (Boyle) and I know Richard Curtis, too (director and screenwriter of Yesterday). So I would consider them friends and I think when I first heard about his movie, I was like a little bummed. Like, “Oh, that’s another British music movie.” But they’re very different. I think ours is based on a true story, everything actually happened and it just goes to show that you can all make music films and they can all be very, very different.

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  • So would you advocate singing Bruce Springsteen songs at Nazis in real life?

    Oh my god, well, yes! And that case (in the movie) I’d say, I think that’s a great moment because the Nazis don’t really know what’s going on. And I think those particular lyrics of “Badlands” at that particular moment, they’re more to empower Javed and Roops than to actually attack Nazis. They make them feel good for standing up for themselves. You know what? I advocate singing Bruce Springsteen songs in any situation to be honest with you.

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  • Were you a Bruce Springsteen fan yourself?

    Absolutely, yes. When I was in school, I had a Saturday job working at Harrods in the record department. I was really into disco music and reggae. One day, this English guy with long hair who worked there said to me, “Have you heard of Bruce Springsteen?” And I said, “Yes, but I’m not a rocker.” And in my head, Bruce, I always thought he was a heavy metal kind of guy. And then he said, “You should listen to him” and then he showed me the album Born to Run. And, I was like, wow, impressed because here was a white dude and black dude who looked like they were really close and having a lot of fun. And, I hadn’t seen a band with black and white members before except for Casey and the Sunshine band. I was intrigued by the album cover and then, I went home and put music on, and that was it. It was amazing and I loved where the sax came in and out of the guitar, and I loved the angry guitar and the soft guitar. And I just thought Bruce’s voice and lyrics were very haunting and I just loved the way that he told stories and he still does. He tells stories about people in a very cinematic way. They’re like little movies, a lot of his songs.

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  • Did Bruce Springsteen interfere in the making of Blinded By the Light?

    He didn’t interfere with anything, really. And then at the other end, I went to show him my director’s cut in New York while he was on Broadway and I was a little nervous because I had been given the responsibility, really, when he gave his blessing. So, I wanted him to see my cut and have some opportunity to change something if he wanted to or just needed to have some kind of redress. The screening happened and he watched the film really intensely and, at the end, there was silence, nobody clapped. And I kind of walked up to the front and put the lights on and he walked over to me and gave me a big kiss and he put his arms around me and he said, “Thank you so much for looking after me so beautifully. I love it. Please, don’t change a thing.” And that was it. That was his involvement.

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  • How much was Bruce Springsteen involved with the movie?

    MUSIC UPROXX MUSIC UPROXX INDIE MIXTAPE UPROXX POP FLASH BACKSTAGE THE RX FILM/TV ALL FILM/TV UPROXX TV UPROXX MOVIES WHAT TO WATCH CULTURE LIFE/STYLE UPROXX LIFE UPROXX STYLE SPORTS ALL SPORTS DIME ON UPROXX BRAWLER VIDEO/PODCASTS FOLLOW YOUTUBE INSTAGRAM TWITTER FACEBOOK FLIPBOARD EMAIL ACCOUNT SIGN UP SIGN IN INFO ABOUT PRIVACY TERMS Search for: SEARCH … Movies Director Gurinder Chadha On Working With Springsteen And Fighting Nazis In ‘Blinded By The Light’ VINCE MANCINI FACEBOOK TWITTER SENIOR FILM & CULTURE WRITER AUGUST 16, 2019 FACEBOOK TWITTER UPROXX.IT VIA VIA WP-IMAGE-402069957 Gurinder Chadha’s new movie, Blinded By The Light, based on the memoir of Pakistani-British Springsteen fanatic Sarfraz Manzoor, has one scene, in particular, that feels especially anachronistic, maybe even purely fantastical, in 2019. The main character, teenage Javed, played by Viveik Kalra, is going through customs on his first trip to the United States. The stony border guard asks him the purpose of his trip, and Javed nervously explains that he’s going to visit Bruce Springsteen’s home town. At which point the guard instantly brightens and wishes the boy well on his way. It’s so far from what you’d expect to see in the era of the Muslim Ban that Chadha herself (whose films include Bend It Like Beckham and Viceroy’s House) initially cut it out of the film. “I actually cut that scene out of the movie at first because I was like, ‘No one is ever going to believe this.’ But that actually happened to Sarfraz when he came to the states,” Chadha says.”I nearly cut that scene out because I thought it was so hokey and no one would believe it. And then I thought, ‘Well it did happen, I’ll just put it in.’ And thank God I did because I think audiences really love it. it just points to a different experience that could be as opposed to the experiences that we see around us today.” Chadha’s film, adapted with the help of her husband Paul Mayeda Berges, is unintentionally, on the surface at least, connected to that other British music movie, Yesterday, which also told the story of a young British man with South Asian ancestry who was into pop music. But whereas Yesterday is a high concept that barely addresses race, Blinded By The Light is based on the real-life account of a Pakistani-British teen growing up with disapproving, traditional parents in a town full of sieg-heiling skinheads during the peak of the National Front in 1987. Javed ends up finding solace in Bruce Springsteen, of all people, attaching deeper meaning to lyrics like “the dogs on main street howl” and “sometimes I just want to explode and tear this whole town apart” than… well, I, certainly, ever have. That other people don’t quite “get it” the way Javed does is partly the point, of course. Javed does a lot of singing at his detractors — most likely a bit of Bollywood influence — and the movie is much more of an uplifting romp than you might expect from a film about a kid who seems to be eating equal amounts of shit from his stickler father and his racist town. It fits naturally into Chadha’s oeuvre of poppy films about Southasian-Brits struggling with a dual identity. With the film opening August 16th, I spoke to Chadha by phone recently. — So is it bad that when I first heard this title I wondered why they named a Bruce Springsteen movie after a Manfred Mann song? Well then, we have to educate you, right? Yeah. I think a lot of people are saying that, but of course Bruce wrote that song after he did “Because the Night.” And was that the title of the book too? The book is Greetings from Bury Park. That was the memoir that Sarfraz (Manzoor) wrote in 2007 which the film is inspired by. So why did you choose Blinded By the Light? I chose it because I thought… it really fits for our film. The character is blinded by what he thinks is the way to satisfy his dream. Also, where I use the song in the film, I think that it fit so perfectly because nobody knows what that fricking song means, right? The lyrics are like, what the heck did that mean? But because of the way it’s used in the film at that particular time it has great meaning. It’s hard to explain, but I feel like it just kind of fits. I like the title, and then it comes full circle when you understand how it’s used in the speech at the end with Javed. Right. So, I imagine that Bruce had to give his permission for all the music. How much was he involved with the movie? Well, when I read the memoir, Sarfraz gave me the galley, and I said, “Okay, I know how to turn this into a great film but it isn’t anything without Bruce’s music and his permission.” We don’t have a movie unless we get that. And then in 2010 Bruce came to London for the premiere of The Promise, and as he was coming down the red carpet, I had taken Sarfraz with me, and as Bruce came down the carpet, he stopped at Sarfraz who he recognized from many concerts he’d been to at the front. And he walked over and he said, “I read your book, it’s really beautiful.” That was the first miracle. And I just sort of just blurted out, “We really need your help, we want to make this into a movie, but we can’t without your blessing. Will you support us?” And, Bruce looked at me and looked at Sarfraz and said, “Sounds good. Talk to Jon.” And that literally was it. That was our green light and Jon Landau, Bruce’s manager, kept us in touch with Tracey Nurse, his colleague from Sony of 35 years. And then we started working on the script and then finally sent the script to Bruce and he read it and he came back and said, “I’m all good with this.” And that was the greenlight, let’s go make the movie. We barely needed two sentences from him.

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  • Why did you choose the title Blinded By the Light for your film?

    I chose it because I thought… it really fits for our film. The character is blinded by what he thinks is the way to satisfy his dream. Also, where I use the song in the film, I think that it fit so perfectly because nobody knows what that fricking song means, right? The lyrics are like, what the heck did that mean? But because of the way it’s used in the film at that particular time it has great meaning. It’s hard to explain, but I feel like it just kind of fits. I like the title, and then it comes full circle when you understand how it’s used in the speech at the end with Javed.

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  • Looking back over your career so far what would you say?

    I’d say Good Job! (Laughs) I wish there were more! I wish there were more but it is hard to get movies off the ground. This is not an easy job. For me, I’m lucky I managed to get the ones I have done and I wish I had been able to get more. It’s tough getting movies off the ground, so many things have to align. For all the ones you see, there are lots that didn’t get made for whatever reason, casting or finance. So as many as I have made, there are as many that nearly got made!

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  • You worked with Aishwarya Rai in Bride and Prejudice and of course the great Mr. Anupam Kher in both Bride and Prejudice and Bend It Like Beckham, but are there any other actors you would love to work with from Bollywood?

    Oh Yes! LOTS of them! I know a lot of them as well so it will happen I am sure in the future!

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  • What are your thoughts on Bollywood films today?

    I think there has been a whole new kind of generation working in Bollywood and I think there are some amazing new filmmakers. I think there are some great films – I have to say. There is still all the sort of useless masala stuff – that is fine for what they do but doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny. But I think there has been a new generation that has been brought up on films with different production values and different sense of story line. I think those are very exciting elements in Bollywood.

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  • What are your thoughts on Bollywood films today?

    I think there has been a whole new kind of generation working in Bollywood and I think there are some amazing new filmmakers. I think there are some great films – I have to say. There is still all the sort of useless masala stuff – that is fine for what they do but doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny. But I think there has been a new generation that has been brought up on films with different production values and different sense of story line. I think those are very exciting elements in Bollywood.

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  • What do you hope the world will see in your films?

    I think, basically, what I am doing is celebrating my own culture and my kind of multicultural identity. That’s what I am doing. The idea is that what I am showing the world is that, even though I am British, I also have these other facets and ways of looking at the world. In that sense, that is really what I am celebrating and what I am showing.

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  • Of all your films so far, which are you most proud of?

    Oh all of them! It’s like asking a mother which child? So all of them. I like What’s Cooking a lot; no one knows I made that film. You can’t really pick one! They are all great for different reasons I think.

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  • Let’s talk Bride and Prejudice, tell us about the experience of making that film.

    It was wonderful. It was hard work but it was wonderful. Lots of locations, lots of singing and dancing. It was a big deal.

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  • Did you think that Bend It Like Beckham would become the huge success that it was and still is today?

    No, is the short answer! I did not expect that huge success at all! What I also didn’t expect was the film to be so English. When I first saw the film rough cut I was quite shocked at how English it was. Those two things surprised me. It continues to be a huge favorite among people and I get tweeted about it all the time. Right now I have been working on the West End stage musical of Bend It Like Beckham, so it has been very close to me while I have been turning into something else. The musical is kind of based on the film but not completely. It is its own thing. But for people who love the film it is going to be a fantastic experience. Howard Goodall is the composer and Charles Hart is the lyricist, he wrote the lyrics for Phantom of the Opera. It is sort of up there! I am really glad I am working on the musical. It is just a whole different genre and a whole new way of thinking creatively. Very interesting. It has been illuminating and incredibly creatively satisfying experience for me.

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  • At NYIFF, they also showcased your documentaries; can you tell us about those?

    I’m British But… is my first film, which is really cute. I was supposed to be making a pop promo of a Bhangra band and it turned into that film. It really was the first film from a British second generation Asian perspective. That is how it was received. Here is a new voice. And so it was my calling card really. Also on the strength of that I got Bhaji on the Beach. Acting Our Age, I also love because my Mom and Dad are in the film at the very end. Sadly, my dad has passed away. The dad character in Bend it Like Beckham is based on my dad. Acting Our Age is a very, very sweet film as well about the resilience of the elderly immigrants. They are all films of me, you know, sort of starting out and trying to kind of like make my mark. For me to hone my voice if you like.

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  • Bhaji on the Beach was showcased in London and then showcased and honored in the New York Indian Film Festival. How does that feel?

    I remember that whole…it was that first time when I saw audiences from a different country really enjoying the film. I didn’t expect it – that audiences in New York sat and watched the film and took it all in and enjoyed it. It was eye opening – that it was cross culturally. I was shocked at that. I remember thinking ‘Wow! This really is the power of cinema. That it can transcend so many boundaries’. I am excited to go back and see it again with people that were there the first time round actually!

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  • What do you remember most about making Bhaji on the Beach?

    I remember the excitement of shooting in Blackpool. That was a lot of fun. I remember the thrill of seeing queues all around the cinema when it first opened, because no one thought it was going to do the business it did. I remember the wonderful review from Janet Maslin in the New York Times and also Ken Turan’s piece in the LA Times. At that time I didn’t really understand how significant that was. Particularly Ken Turan, because I thought the LA Times was just a local paper, not really a national paper. I didn’t really get the significance but it was the whole front page of the Calendar section of the LA Times. Now I know what a big deal that was, then I didn’t. (Laughs) I also remember the excitement of everybody involved in the film; right through the writers with me, Meera (Syal), Nadine (Marsh) the producer, the actors – just everyone. It was like this sense of we are never going to be able to make a film like this again! We are never going to do something like this again! It was quite amazing!

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  • Do you think the stories in Bhaji on the Beach still resonate today?

    I totally do! There is still the whole issue of mixed race relationships and also domestic violence. Also just the idea of older women not really having a voice and wanting to just express themselves. So definitely. I can’t believe in 20 years so little has changed and that those issues still have resonance.

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  • It has been over two decades since Bhaji on the Beach, what are your thoughts on the film now?

    I saw it quite recently and I have to say it pretty much holds up actually. (Laughs) It is still really funny and it still really works! Obviously, given that it was my first film, what I know now compared to what I knew then, you know, is a massive gap. So there are certain shots and certain sequences that I just sort of cringe a little bit saying, ‘Oh My God Why Did I DO that’? I should have done this; I should have done that. But on the other hand, I think some of the stuff works really well so I was able to sort of relax and get into the story of it. And you know, I hadn’t seen it for so long I had forgot part of what happens in it.

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  • What made you want to go into making films?

    Well, it was wanting to see people who looked liked me [Indian] on the big screen. You know, people like me really didn’t exist on the big screen. They were always on the margins as extras. I wanted to find ways to make us center stage.

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