Gurinder Chadha making festive film with Indian Scrooge ‘who hates refugees’

Gurinder Chadha Making Festive Film With Indian Scrooge ‘Who Hates Refugees’
Gurinder Chadha, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By Naomi Clarke, PA Entertainment Reporter

Filmmaker Gurinder Chadha has revealed she is making a Christmas Carol-style festive film which stars “an Indian Tory who hates refugees”.

The Bend It Like Beckham director discussed the state of the independent movie industry in the UK as part of the first session in the British government inquiry into British film and high-end TV.


Appearing in front a UK Culture, Media and Sport Committee at Westminster on Tuesday, Chadha said it is still more difficult to get films made with a cast of colour as she feels there is a perception that viewers do not want to see films that do not “culturally reflect them”.

Reflecting on her independent Christmas film, she said: “I’m making (Charles Dickens’) A Christmas Carol, but my Scrooge is an Indian Tory who hates refugees – but then we go on that journey with them, and hopefully they have reclamation.”

She added that she has told the UK prime minister about the project and she claimed he said: “‘Oh, don’t make me look bad.’ And I said: ‘I don’t have to do that for you, Rishi.'”


Chadha said the film is “fun, its British, its very close to Dickens original themes giving the cost of living crisis in Britain”.

However, she revealed she has “struggled to get it off the ground” partly due to the lead being Indian.

She added: “By making it an Indian Scrooge it changes everything in terms of how I get it financed. Suddenly people go ‘Its not commercial, its small, its an Indian film’.”

Chadha rose to prominence after creating Bend It Like Beckham, starring British actress Parminder Nagra – who is of Indian Punjabi descent – and Keira Knightley as two young girls who desire to be professional footballers, despite their parents’ wishes.


She is also been behind other hit films including Bride And Prejudice and Blinded By The Light.

Rishi Sunak
UK prime minister Rishi Sunak (Hannah McKay/PA)

Asked if this pushback against commissioning films with Indian leads is “naked racism”, she said: “I think, yes, it’s this perception that people won’t want to see a film that doesn’t culturally reflect them, which is why I always push for it.


“I’m always trying to push what is British culture.”

Exploring why she feels it is still hard for her to get a film starring an up-and-coming Indian actor greenlit despite her track record, she said: “It’ll be much easier if you have a white cast than a cast of colour to make films.

“You can talk to any person of colour filmmaker and they will tell you.”

Asked if this just related to Indian talent, she clarified that is also happens with black actors.

She said: “If you have Idris Elba or John Boyega – great. But these are people who have worked very hard to get where they are, but if I was to cast a new kid out of film school (from an ethnic minority background) and try to make them the lead, it will be hard.”

Asked if she feels it would be easier if the young actor was white, she agreed, before adding: “That’s been my experience on the film I’m making right now.”

Reflecting on the independent film industry in Britain, she admitted: “One of the hardest things is just surviving.

“A lot of colleagues have not survived as independent filmmakers.”

Chadha said the UK industry still needs studio films like blockbuster Wonka starring Timothee Chalamet, but does not want them to “stifle the independent talent” as she feels they tell the regional stories of the UK.

“Film is emotional and film touches people and it tells who we are as a nation,” she said.

“So independent film is a very important voice. It’s our passport to the rest of the world.”

When asked how she thinks things can be improved, she promoted the idea of a tiered tax credit system.

She explained: “I think a tiered tax incentive is great. So if you’re an independent film under a certain budget, you get a greater tax credit than perhaps the more studio-backed films…

“I think something that encourages first-time filmmakers is very good as well. So producers are incentivised to develop talent.”

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