New Delhi, Gurinder Chadha has decided to move on. The Britain-based Indian filmmaker says she will leave behind her usual marriage formula in new projects, one of which is a children’s film focussing on ecology and another that trails her own family history.
“At the moment I am working on a children’s film set in Kerala. It’s a children’s adventure film. We are working on the script. We’ll hopefully roll it on in winter,” Chadha told IANS in a telephonic interview from Mumbai.
“It’s about elephants and is set in an elephant sanctuary. It has an ecological message. I realised children are growing up too fast and they have to deal with issues too soon. I wanted to make a proper innocent adventure movie that specifically deals with children I used to see when I was young,” she said.
Chadha, 50, made a mark for herself with movies like “Bend It Like Beckham” and “Bride & Prejudice” which were about marriage and even her latest release, “It’s A Wonderful Afterlife”, belongs to the same category.
But Chadha, who is in India to promote “It’s A Wonderful Afterlife”, admits she is moving away from her signature style.
“Yes, the children’s film will be very different from the ones that people have seen before. It’s set entirely in India and there will be no weddings in this one and certainly no Punjabis,” she said.
Any title for the movie? “We had a Malayalam title, but at the moment we are only calling it ‘GCs Indian Adventure’,” she quipped.
Asked if she had zeroed in on the cast, she said: “Not yet, but I’m thinking. But the main cast will be children. I need a girl from India and I am looking for one who is between nine and 11. And I’ll have an English boy.”
And what about the language of the film?
“It’ll be in English, but we may shoot a little bit in Hindi as well. I am not sure about that. But we might do a Hindi-English mix and may be a little bit of Malayalam too,” she said.
Talking about her other project that will have references from Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre’s bestseller “Freedom at Midnight”, she said: “I have the rights to ‘Freedom at Midnight’, but I’m also doing my own research.
“It will be a film from a British Indian female’s perspective. It’ll be a complete epic drama set in India and England. The film is about independence. It’ll look at my own history.
“My ancestors were originally from Persia and then Jhelum and Rawalpindi (now in Pakistan). They were in Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s army and then after partition my father’s family was in Kenya. My mother’s side of the family had to leave and move to Delhi as refugees. I was born in Kenya and then I went to England with my parents as a baby.
“So in a way it’s more about my history and how come I ended up where I am,” she said.
“Freedom at Midnight” is also controversial for its references to Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi.
“That book has some interesting information so we are taking references from the book but 50 percent of the storyline will be ours and we will have our own characters and not Nehruji, Gandhiji and all.”
So when does the dream project go on the floors?
“First, I have to get the script as it needs time. This is one project I want to get absolutely right. We are working on it, but we need to do a lot more research. It’s a passion project and if the script comes along this year, then we’ll do it next year,” she said.