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Rishi Sunak Asks Gurinder Chadha Not to Make Him ‘Look Bad’ in Her Adaptation of ‘A Christmas Carol’

Rishi Sunak Asks Gurinder Chadha Not to Make Him ‘Look Bad’ in Her Adaptation of ‘A Christmas Carol’

  • In her contemporary twist to Charles Dickens’s classic, the lead character is an Indian Tory who hates refugees.

Filmmaker Gurinder Chadha has been struggling to finance her latest project based on Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol,” because of its contemporary twist. While her new film “is close to Dickens’ original themes with the cost of living crisis in Britain,” her Scrooge is “an Indian Tory who hates refugees.” She even spoke about the film with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. And when he asked her not to “make him look bad,” she responded that she didn’t have to do that for him.

While it is not clear if her “scrooge” is inspired by the Indian-origin Prime Minister, Sunak fought hard to get the House of Commons to pass the controversial immigration bill that allows the British government to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

The “Bend It Like Beckham” director revealed her financing predicament to the UK Parliament recently, when she appeared in front of a Culture, Media and Sport Committee on Jan. 23. addressing the current state of the country’s film industry. Despite being “a hugely respected beloved director,” the 64-year-old told the Parliament that it has been difficult to get the film off the ground.” She was told that her new film was “not commercial and was small,” which “changes everything in terms of how you get it financed,” she said, according to a Deadline report. 

Attributing the challenges “partly” to the Indian lead character, she admitted to having this issue with her films. ‘I’ve always had that with films I’ve made but always stuck with my guns,” she went on to say. “It’s sad for me now because I get rejections from [financiers and distributors] who should know better.” Questioned by committee member John Nicolson on whether this struggle for financing is “naked racism,” she said “there is a perception that people don’t want to see a film that culturally doesn’t reflect them,” the Deadline report added. “At the end of the day, it will be much easier to have a white cast than a cast of color to make films.”

She cited her previous pic, 2019’s “Blinded by the Light,” as an example of a culturally specific film that performed well commercially and critically. The film about a British-Pakistani journalist in Luton who loves Bruce Springsteen “should have been easier to make,” she said. In the end, the film cost £6.5M ($8.3 million) and sold for $17 million at Sundance, per the Deadline report. 

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Chadha is best known for the films “Bhaji on the Beach” (1993), “Bend It Like Beckham” (2002), “Bride and Prejudice” (2004), “Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging” (2008), “It’s a Wonderful Afterlife” (2010), “Viceroy’s House” (2017), and “Blinded by the Light.” (2019). She is also working on her upcoming Disney Princess movie with an Indian lead along with a ‘Bend It Like Beckham ‘sequel.

Meanwhile, there is speculation that she has cast actress Alia Bhatt in the lead. A now-viral photo of the two during Chadha’s recent Indian trip began the conjecture. Speaking of the Disney film she told the Parliament that she’s “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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