India's Gurinder Chadha tackles migration with humor

Thu Dec 10, 2009 2:44am EST
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By Shilpa Jamkhandikar

PANAJI, India (Reuters) - Gurinder Chadha, the director behind the hit "Bend it Like Beckham," is one of a trio of Indian-origin women directors wowing the world with their unique style. But unlike Deepa Mehta or Mira Nair, Chadha makes films with a distinctly earthy feel.

Whether it was "Beckham" or "Bhaji on the Beach," the London-based Chadha has explored themes of migration and cultural identity with a healthy dose of humor.

Chadha, 49, spoke to Reuters recently, on the sidelines of the 40th International Film Festival of India, where a retrospective of her films is being screened, about why her movies appeal to migrants everywhere, and not just Indians.

Q: All your films have an Indian vibe. What kind of a reaction do you get from Indian audiences?

A: "Depends on the films, but generally speaking, it is a very affectionate feeling toward me and my films. Maybe it is the Punjabi nature of me and my films, but they have always given me a lot of love."

Q: How Punjabi are you and how British?

A: "I don't know if I could divide that. I think I am Punjabi in a British way and very British in a Punjabi way. I am Indian, but also very British. I am part of the diaspora and I produce creative work which comes out of me being part of the diaspora. My ancestors originate from Jhelum and Rawalpindi (in Pakistan), then my family went to Kenya and now I live in England. All of this creates a very interesting cultural context."

Q: What does that cultural context bring to your style of filmmaking?   Continued...