January 2, 2017


Gurinder Chadha. b. Kenya.

Gurinder Chadha

Anglo-Asian director Gurinder Chadha was born in Kenya, her parents lived there until the political dissension leading to Kenya’s independence drove them to move back to her grandfather’s native India. As citizens of India, which was still considered part of the British Empire at that time, they settled in Southall, West London in 1951. Chadha began her career as a news reporter with BBC Radio, directed several award winning documentaries for the BBC, and began a fruitful alliance with the BFI and Channel Four who produced the 30-minute documentary, I’m English But… (1989). The film followed young English Asians who, unlike their parents, listen to Acid Bhangra, a mix of Punjabi bhangra and rap. In 1990, Chadha set up her own production company; Umbi Films. Her first dramatic film short was the 11-minute Nice Arrangement (1991) about a British-Asian wedding. Chadha’s feature directorial debut, Bhaji on the Beach (1993) was an Asian feminist comedy with a cheeky wit and a more serious political and cultural theme. It traced the adventures of three generations of Anglo Asian women on holiday in the vacation spot Blackpool. After Bhaji, Chadha directed a two-part drama Rich Deceiver (1995), for the BBC, and continued to work on documentaries. She followed up her previous cult hit with What’s Cooking (2000), the story of four Los Angeles families on Thanksgiving weekend. Bend It Like Beckham (2002), is Chadha’s most commercial film to date, a comedy about an Asian girl who takes a fancy to football while trying to balance it with her parent’s demands. Beckham became a smash hit and one of the highest grossing home-produced films of 2002.

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