Gurinder Chadha asks Asians to make films on their issues

Indian-origin filmmaker Gurinder Chadha has called on the South Asian community in the UK to film more stories about themselves.

The 54-year-old director, who is behind films like 'Bend It Like Beckham' and 'Bride and Prejudice', was speaking at the 20th anniversary celebration of her debut feature 'Bhaji on the Beach' as part of the annual Tongues on Fire Film Festival here last evening.

"Making a career in film with Asian people in it is very hard. The only answer is to find different ways of telling our stories. Just pick up a camera and get it out there," she said addressing the largely student audience at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

Her thoughts were echoed by fellow filmmaker and actor Meera Syal, who wrote the screenplay of 'Bhaji on the Beach' – credited as the first film to bring British Asian issues on to the big screen.

"I can't believe it has been over 20 years since I and the film's director, Gurinder, sent our little film out into the world not knowing how it would be received but proud that we had created a film which finally put South Asian women's lives into mainstream cinema," she said.

"We had so much to say and had been silent for so long: domestic violence, inter-racial relationships, teenage pregnancy, middle ages loveless marriages, Bombay modernity versus British Asians in a bubble; they are all in there and more in our little film with a big heart," she added.

The fundraiser screening, held to mark International Women's Day, was co-organised by the charity Oxfam alongside a newly-formed UK-based women's network, the Asian Circle.

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