Gurinder Chadha has revealed that she’s making a film based on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” but one with a distinctly contemporary twist.
Speaking to U.K. Parliament on Tuesday about the current state of the country’s film industry, she said the upcoming film was would have an Indian lead character. “My Scrooge is an Indian Tory who hates refugees,” she said.
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Chadha, best known for Parminder Nagra and Keira Knightley starrer “Bend it Like Beckham,” also said the film had support from True Brit Entertainment, the new distribution company set up by former Lionsgate U.K. and Europe head and Marv Studios CEO Zygi Kamasa.
“It’s very close to Dickens’ original themes with the cost of living crisis in the Britain,” she said, admitting that she’d spoken to U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak about the film and he’d asked her not “make him look bad” to which she responded “I don’t have to do that for you.”)
But in making her Scrooge Indian, she said the film had proved a struggle to finance, with Chadha — despite being a hugely respected beloved director — being told that her that “it was not commercial and was small — it changes everything in terms of how you get it financed.”
“Right now I’m putting together an independent Christmas film set in London, very diverse and it’s been a real struggle for me to get that film off the ground,” Chadha said. “Partly because the lead character is Indian. And I’ve always had that with the films I’ve made.”
Chadha also admitted that she saw making a Christmas movie as a “pension,” because it has the potential to generate money every holiday season. “The reason I’m making a Christmas film is because I want it to be there every year,” she said. “I’ve not set it up with a streamer — I’ve done it with a British distributor — because if I sell it to a streamer I have to sell the whole lot but if I do in the way I’ve done it, I have the possibility of earning from it every year.”
The director is also working on her upcoming Disney Princess movie. She revealed that the “head of Disney” approached her directly a year ago to make an Indian princess film for the studio. “They could have easily have got an American person who has done loads of Disney films but pat on the back to them, that they actually came and sought culturally the right person,” she said. “So I’ve been working on the script with them. But at the same time, I’m still working on independent British films, because that’s also where my heart is.”
“And in fact, the Disney Princess is actually quite a British film about a princess who’s Indian but it will become a very Disney branded film,” Chadha added. “And I’m very excited about that process of taking my British independent film knowledge and turning it into a film that will always be like a Disney princess film but always have that kind of British sensibility at heart.”
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