Popular filmmaker Gurinder Chadha OBE, known for hits like ‘Bend it Like Beckham’, ‘Bride & Prejudice’ and ‘Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging’, gets ready for her first television show ‘Desi Rascals’, which kicks off on Sky Living later this month. BizAsia caught up with Chadha to get more information on what is touted as the Indian version of ‘TOWIE’.
Can you just describe the premise of the series?
Desi Rascals is a fantastic show about British-Asians living in West London. It۪s unscripted, so different to what I normally do. I haven۪t written these characters – in Desi Rascals we have real people who have brilliant spontaneous exchanges that I could never write. What Desi Rascals offers is a massive burst of energy, storytelling and characters that would take me years to put together if I was making a movie.
Where does the term Desi Rascals come from?
Desi actually means of the land, of your homeland, but the right equivalent here is homeboy, it۪s a term that we all use among ourselves. It۪s mainly used in North America among kids of Indian origin, and now it has become a sort of social media word to reflect anybody who is Indian or South Asian, but not from South Asia itself. So we had desi, then someone in the office came up with Desi Rascals, as in Dizzee Rascal, and it was perfect. It۪s cheeky and it۪s very London.
Why is now the right time to showcase the British-Asian community in a show like this?
I did Bend it Like Beckham in 2002, that۪s 12 years ago, and there has been very little since about that sort of West London community that۪s been really big or mainstream. It was brilliant that I was able to pitch a show that really reflects the community now, 12 years on, because when I go to big family occasions and parties, it۪s brilliant and different to when I was young. With scripted drama, or documentary, you۪re often stuck with a particular vision of what the Asian community is like, whereas in Desi Rascals you get drama, issues, larger than life characters all showcased in a three-dimensional way. Desi Rascals shows you how English we are as well as how British Asian we are.
So what sort of characters were you looking for?
The most important thing when we were casting was that it had to be authentic, real people who are going through real issues that affect our community, and I also wanted to show the fun elements of our community. It۪s a very inclusive show. I think people are going to be really surprised by it, much in the way they were at how successful Bend it Like Beckham was.
Is it important that it۪s a multi-generational show?
It۪s completely important to me that it۪s multi-generational and I think that in some ways that۪s what sets it apart from other reality shows. It۪s very important to me that the parents and grandparents are present as much as the kids. Having older generations in our show allows us to show how the pressures on that generation are as important as those of the younger people. Parents sometimes put pressure on their kids, but there۪s also pressure on them because they want to do the best for their kids as well as upholding certain traditions and values, which is where the tension and drama really comes from.
And how important is social media going to be to the show?
That۪s going to be a fourth element of the storytelling. Social media is going to be critical because there are so many Asians around the world who will want to see this and be a part of it.
What are you most looking forward to bringing into the mainstream sphere?
I think it۪s what I always do which is show our lives as British Asians in a multifaceted way and show how similar we all are, and that the differences are there to be enjoyed and celebrated. That۪s a very important message.
So will we see that vibrant world that we saw in Bend it Like Beckham and Bride & Prejudice?
That۪s our aim. We specifically chose to have a Bollywood element to the show because it۪s such an important part of the Asian community. It gives us a fantastic scale and scope for entertainment as well as colour and music, and I hope that, like Bend it Like Beckham, this really becomes a must-see because you۪re genuinely interested in how the lives of these people unfold.
‘Desi Rascals’ launches on Tuesday 20th January at 20:00 on Sky Living.