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All pride, no prejudice

Gurinder Chadha is ready with the celluloid version of the Jane Austen classic, `Pride and Prejudice'



MANY SHADES TO THIS BRIDE: Gurinder Chadha is ready, able and willing for a combat at the box office

THE HOUND is playing the hare. And the woman found lacking neither in words nor in audacity to express them freely is actually quite polite, but full of beans as she talks energetically about `Bride and Prejudice', her forthcoming film based on Jane Austen's classic, `Pride and Prejudice'.

The film, `Bend It Like Beckham' is history. It served to add to the pride of Gurinder Chadha as the film had a particularly good run at the box office. And the lady who calls herself a British Asian woman director, cannot stop grinning. The pearly teeth, the guffaws, the liberties with the spoken words are all there. As is the feeling of happiness. She is the quintessential global woman, as much at home in Southall as in Amritsar or even New Delhi.

One thing is different though. She might make films about aloo-gobi and the like - remember `Bend It... '? - she is still ill at ease with the chapattis. It was something she had promised to learn a couple of years ago when `Bend It... ' was ready for release.

"I am no good at it. I can make the chapatti round, but the dough is so soft that the moment I put it on the tawa, there is a big hole in it!"

Hindi version

Never mind. At the moment the world is busy eating off her hand. And everybody seems to be enjoying the sumptuous celluloid fare on offer. Like a proud chef, Gurinder cannot stop talking of her latest creation, `Bride and Prejudice'.

"In some ways it is a typical Hindi film. We made it in English, then people said it is a very Hindi film so we dubbed it in Hindi. Javed Akhtar did some lyrics, Aishwarya Rai did the dubbing and within a couple of weeks or so it was ready. In Hindi, the film will be called `Balle Balle Amritsar to LA'. Initially, people suggested something like `Begum Gayi LA'. I did not quite like it," she says.

Talking of liking, Gurinder, who grew up in Southall on a rich diet of Hindi films such as `Haathi Mere Saathi', `Mera Naam Joker', `Mera Naam Joker', `Guide' and `Bobby', is keen to see how the audiences react to her film.

"My film, in some parts, is a tribute to Raj Kapoor. In some ways, it is like `Fiddler on The Roof'. Ultimately, it is up to the audiences to decide. I am excited at the prospect of going to a down town cinema hall to watch `Bride... '. I had watched `Raja Hindustani' in Mumbai. I liked the experience. I would also like to watch the film in a multiplex and see how it works."

Well, apparently the film works. All those who have seen the exclusive private screenings, including the likes of Amitabh Bachchan and Karan Johar, have found it good fun.

"They said it was a typical Hindi film. Actually, my work is about Indians from Britain. There are some subtle differences between, say Punjabis from Punjab and Punjabis from Britain. Similarly, there is a class debate in the film. The Americans are shocked to see an Indian family speaking proper English. However, in essence it is a love story and I quite like the mischievousness of taking one of Britain's great traditions and Indianising it. The novel is set in 1790s' England, the film has a contemporary feel to it."

Changing ideas

The lady who loved `Hum Aapke Hain Koun!' and credits `Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge' for "resurrecting Hindi cinema in England" before "films such as `Kuch Kuch Hota Hai' and `Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham' cashed upon it", is no ordinary escapist filmmaker.

"As a filmmaker, you have to have changed someone's ideas about something by the end of the show. My inspiration has always been Manoj Kumar's `Purab aur Pashchim'. The film told us British Asians, something we did not think we were," she adds.

All those prejudices are in the past.

For the moment, there is the pride of Aishwarya Rai-Martin Henderson starrer that has a rich array of Bollywood luminaries such as Anu Malik, Javed Akhtar, Santosh Sivan, Saroj Khan and others involved with it. There is the world premiere to take care of on October 4. And then the Indian screening. As for the chapattis, well, they can be taken care of in future.

ZIYA US SALAM

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