Gurinder Chadha on Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Bond bid and making a film in Punjabi

Speaking at the Red Sea Film Festival in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Chadha said: “I had to fight with Paramount Studios at the time,” she said about casting Taylor-Johnson as the lead in 2008’s ‘Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging’.

“I think he’s going to be a big star,” she told sceptical Paramount executives at the time. “I said, ‘trust me’, and cast him, so, of course, I will take complete credit,” she told the audience, according to ‘Variety’.

During an hour-long conversation, Chadha spoke at length about her career and the hurdles she faced within the industry.

“I started off as a BBC news reporter and I found that I couldn’t really control the narrative. As a journalist, I had to do what I was told. But it gave me the skills to control the narrative in a way that is accessible to a complete audience,” Chadha said.

Despite focusing on making accessible, commercial films, the director said she still faces challenges to get her projects made. Chadha told the audience her 2019 film ‘Blinded By The Light’ got turned down by both BBC and Channel 4, even though she believed the project had a broad commercial appeal.

“We hustled and made the film and it was wonderful. We went to Sundance and had this almighty bidding war. Every filmmaker should have that experience. In the end, we went up to 17 million (dollars) with Warner Brothers. It was a great vote of confidence,” Chadha said.

When asked if she suffered from tokenism in the UK, the director, according to ‘Variety’, said: “I think the opposite because I’ve been the only one for many years. I think it’s a shameful statistic and people are trying to change that. I was the first Indian woman to make a feature in Britain (1994’s ‘Bhaji on the Beach’) and, until this day, there are only one or two (British-Indian directors in Britain). I’m a reminder of the fact that things need to change.”

Chadha finished her talk by asking Indian members of the audience if they knew of any Punjabi-speaking scriptwriters, as she “would like to make a film in Punjabi,” and has “a great idea” in mind.

For now, however, the director is rumoured to be about to direct an original Disney musical about an Indian princess.

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