By: Mohnish Singh
Well-known filmmaker Gurinder Chadha has some remarkable films under her belt, but whenever we talk about her filmography, her film Bend It Like Beckham is always held in high regard. But do you know that the film is one of the most challenging projects Chadha has ever directed?
Speaking at the annual Winston Baker International Film Finance Forum in Cannes, in partnership with the Marché du Film, noted filmmaker Gurinder Chadha told delegates how difficult it was to get the film off the ground.
“I had been struggling to make this film because I really believed the world was changing at this point and I believed that my cultural paradigm was relevant and I was fresh and new to British filmmakers,” she said.
She continued, “I’d written a script with my husband Paul [Mayeda Berges] and it was very international…and a very human story and I just didn’t understand why the gatekeepers were passing on it.”
She recalls how she got an idea that her application for funding from the former UK Film Council was set to be rejected and so she spoke to incoming CEO John Woodward and said, “I’m furious because when you guys all want me to do panels about how hard it is to make films, particularly if you’re a person of colour, you wheel me on to all of these platforms to talk about it and but now you’re not backing me – you have to back me.”
She said she heard feedback on why it would be rejected which said, “the reason this film will never get made is because you will never be able to find an Indian girl who can bend it like Beckham.” “That was the main reason they rejected the film,” said Chadha. She replied to them, “Do you think Harrison Ford jumps out of helicopters?”
Woodward understood her point and went to bat for her at the UKFC at the time and ultimately scored her first £1M for the film, which enabled it to get made.