Gurinder Chadha sounds like a nice spicy Indian dish, but it really is the name of a Indian director that is based in the U.K. Now, hearing her name rings no bells for anyone, but she received critical acclaim for her movies like Bend It like Beckham and Bride and Prejudice. Yes, the movie that was put Keira Knightley in the spotlight, and first brought famous Indian actress Aishwarya Rai to American audiences. She was, “born in Nairobi. Chadha was raised in West London and graduated from the University of East Anglia.” (Wikipedia) What is interesting about her movies is the ability to try to connect with a central character that wants to break from family tradition, as seen in the movie Bend it Like Beckham. The main character Jess, played by Parminder Nagra, wants to play soccer. But her parents do not allow this, because she is a woman. It is only through her friend Jules, played by Keira Knightley, that she is propelled into playing and finding an opportunity to play which enables her to get an opportunity to play in the America.
Most of her movies try to express that necessity to just embrace difference, rather than shun from it. It is similar to what Bell Hooks writes about movies when she states,
“Movies not only provide a narrative for specific discourses of race, sex, and class, they provide a shared experience, a common starting point from which diverse audiences can dialogue about these charged issues… While audiences are clearly not passive and are able to pics and choose, it is simultaneously true that there are certain “received” messages that are rarely mediated by the will of the audience.” (2,3)
Chadha’s thinking comes from “her affinity for stories about families was also attributed to her love for It’s a Wonderful Life. (Wikipedia) You see this in Bend It Like Beckham there is a scene showing comparisons of family life between Jess and Jules. Jules’ family being more liberal about playing soccer and dating, while Jess is a traditional family that prefers to have Jess go to school but be more of a housewife, with husband in tow. Race and gender do come into play, but so much. It is more of a focus of change though following one’s dreams and aspirations. Her ability, as an auteur, to tell a story about breaking past tradition is interesting, because she doesn’t force in on the audience to watch her point. Her point being that change, if any, comes from two places. The first place is the family, and the necessity to allow the audience to understand the identity of the characters. This gives the character space to search for a new identity, beyond the one that confines them by culture and tradition. The second is the situations that propel the character to want that change.
In an interview with Bafta, she was asked if, “She felt constrained in her career by labels place upon you, whether It be “female director” or “Anglo Asian filmmaker”?” to which she answered, “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 the critical impact, but expect to make much money.” (Bafta) She is not trying to promote being a woman director or anything for that matter. She tries to just be honest about what family is, and the necessity for independence from a set tradition.
Trailer of Bend It Like Beckham: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsmbObwStSQ
Bafta. 2008. 2008
Bend It Like Beckham. Dir. Gurinder Chadha. Perf. Keira Knightley and Nagra Parminder. 2003.
Hooks, Bell. "Introduction Making Movie Magic." (n.d.).
"Wikipedia." 15 April 2011. Wikipedia. 15 April 2011