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My sexy red dress was the highpoint of the premiere:Gurinder

After making heads turn in London, Gurinder Chadha is getting ready to fly down to India with It’s A Wonderful Afterlife.

entertainment Updated: May 02, 2010 14:28 IST
Roshmila Bhattacharya
Roshmila Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times

Gurinder chadhaAfter making heads turn in London, Gurinder Chadha is getting ready to fly down to India with It’s A Wonderful Afterlife.

How badly was Shabana Azmi missed at the London premiere of It’s A Wonderful Afterlife (the film released in the UK on April 21)? And what was the highpoint of the evening for you?

We really missed Shabana who is the soul of my film. The highpoint was my sexy red dress that was my husband Paul’s (Mayeda Berges) idea. I have never got so many compliments for my appearance! (Laughs) Now, the hard work begins to keep it up! The dress was by my favourite UK designer Babs Mahal who has designed some lovely outfits for me for my Indian tour too. I hope I get more favourable comments.

Was your heroine Goldy Nortan, who has lost all those extra kilos, recognised when she walked the red carpet?
No, not many recognised her and though Goldy is looking beautiful, I still like my rounded Roopi.But Goldy has a great look for comedy and is an empathetic actress. I was delighted to write a reference for her for Sex and the City 2. I hope she has a great career like my Bend It Like Beckham star Parminder Nagra.

The film releases in India two weeks after it opens abroad, how do you plan to combat piracy?
I’ve appealed to the better side of people via Twitter and Facebook. Plus, we have the web police out in force. Piracy makes it harder for independent filmmakers to survive and this can ultimately destroy our industry.

Do you sleep at night these days?
(Laughs) I’m anxious before every release but this time I’m excited about my India trip after all the wonderful comments on my Twitter page (@GurinderC). I’m planning a trip to the Golden Temple in Amritsar. We have something very exciting for the release planned too that I can’t reveal yet.

As part of the promotion in London, fans were to send pictures of themselves in their traditional best. What was the wackiest entry you received?
Would you believe it, they didn’t send any.

Awww! So what’s your favorite traditional dress?
Jeans and kurta, I wear it all the time.

The film was earlier titled My Bloody Wedding. How did It’s A Wonderful Afterlife come about?
I came up with the title while I was washing up one day. I wasn’t happy with the original title because it was too limiting to one genre. Since my film encompasses many genres, I needed something wittier. Also, my film is about life and death, like It’s A Wonderful Life by Frank Capra.

What’s been your family’s reaction to the film?
They love it because so many of them are in it. My cousins like it because they get to see my mother being hit in the face by a barrage of samosas... And me getting covered in slimy curry.

My friend says my late father is often in my house: Gurinder

I believe there are spirits around us, guiding us. My friend Geeta is psychic and says my late father is often in my house, sitting around enjoying watching the family. I believe her. We wanted a specific look for the ghosts. What’s interesting is that as the film progresses, they start to age and their skin peels off. The actors had to sit for four hours for prosthetics and make-up. I referred to an old British film, David Lean’s Blithe Spirit and John Landis’ An American Werewolf In London for the look.

My twins were scared of the ghosts: Gurinder

My twins, Ronak and Kumiko used to be on the sets all the time and love the music of the film. But they were a little scared of the ghosts. My favourite moment was when I saw them through my camera lens. They too were happy to see themselves on screen. They throw flowers at the bride in the wedding scene. That sequence was lovely. Sendhil (lead actor Sendil Ramamurthy) initially thought that it would be the usual fake wedding. But when I asked him to take the pheras, he got nervous and kept checking on how many pheras had been taken. He reminded me constantly that he’s married. He didn’t realise that even though it’s a Sikh wedding, I didn’ have the Guru Granth Sahib on the set.

My sister has written and performed a song: Gurinder

I like all the songs, particularly the desi version of ‘Staying alive…’ by Bally Sagoo. We went crazy shooting it. Since we didn’t have a specific choreography in mind, everyone was dancing to their own tune. I also love Madhaniyan, nikkiye… written and performed by my sister Parminder. It is a beautiful feminist re-working of a Punjabi classic. It’s not often that Indian women get to re-write their place in our age-old culture. This song does it with aplomb.

The cameraman wanted me to act coy but I had a big smile on my face: Gurinder

The film revolves around a big fat Punjabi wedding. The cameraman was angry with me on my wedding day because he wanted me to give him coy poses and look shy but I had a big smile on my face instead. Years later, we had a videographer in Bend It Like Beckham to say the same thing to Jesse’s sister on her wedding day. In It’s A Wonderful Afterlife I lent Goldy my wedding dress. It was nice to see someone fitting into it and looking so good too. It was made in Amritsar in the 1970s and has beautiful gota kinari work. My mum kept it in a suitcase for years but it still looked brand new the day I wore it. The wedding scene in Bend It Like Beckham was one of the best scenes I’ve ever shot. The one in It’s A Wonderful Afterlife is innovative. All my relatives are a part of it.

Shabana said YES without even reading the script: Gurinder

I got to know Shabana (Azmi) while working with Javed saab (Akhtar) on the lyrics of Bride And Prejudice. When I called and said I wanted to send her a script across, she said, “YES, YES, YES” without even reading it. She was such a trooper and ate fried food, cupcakes, biscuits, everything that was there to get out of shape for the role. She had been shooting in Chandigarh before and had eaten her fill of parathas and kulchas there. She has a great voice and often broke into the Beatle classic, ‘Michelle…’ that she dedicated to my co-producer Michelle Fox.

First Published: May 02, 2010 13:33 IST