Gurinder Chadha signing Shabana Azmi for next venture

By Subhash K. Jha

Mumbai, March 11 (IANS) British-Indian filmmaker Gurinder Chadha is kept busy looking after her twins, but she has decided to return to direction with "It's An Afterlife" and is upbeat about signing on Shabana Azmi.

"I've chosen to direct a relatively smaller film. It's just a seven-week shoot and we've the weekends off. And then there's three months of post-production when I get to spend a lot of time with the kids. The editing will be done right next door. There's also a zoo-park nearby; so I can take them there in between editing," said Gurinder, who has directed films like "Bend It Like Beckham" and "Bride And Prejudice".

Gurinder admits she has been wanting to work with Shabana for a long time.

"Shabana Azmi is one classy lady. I've been looking forward to working with her for a long time. Mine is an ensemble film. Six characters are on screen all the time. I wanted Kirron Kher to play a fiercely funny Punjabi character, which I thought she's very good at. But it didn't work out," the director said.

"It's An Afterlife" is a tribute to legendary filmmaker Frank Capra, known for his films like "It's A Wonderful Life" and "It Happened One Night".

So what made Gurinder get back to direction, specially with the twins to look after?

"I've to work because it's expensive bringing up twins. I can't believe the bills. Everything costs double," she laughed.

"I can't say my concentration on my work is not divided. Any working woman who's a mother will tell you the children are a constant preoccupation. It's a natural motherly instinct. No matter what I'm doing I'm thinking of their lunch, nap or bath.

"Our entire home looks like a nursery. There are toys and books in every room. But that doesn't mean I can't do other things. In many ways my duties as a mother has made me more focussed as a director. You learn to get on with the job because you've to go home as fast as possible," she explained.

Asked about her kids, Gurinder said: "Kumiko is very quiet, loves books and pictures. The boy Raunak is a typical macho Punjabi man, screams and shouts until he gets what he wants. He's a complete mama's boy."

Making a film and looking after two children are not an easy task, but Gurinder says she has worked out a way to do both well.

"Every director-producer should look after kids and make a film. One is a wonderful training ground for the other. Raising twins is like going into two productions at the same time. Only the hours are longer," said Gurinder, who is married to Paul Berges.

She intends to work the schedules for her new film around her motherly duties.

"The twins' timetable and schedules are imperative. As long as their routine isn't broken they're happy. They've a wonderful nanny to help me out. And of course their daddy is there. Among us we manage very well. I make sure I'm home from the studio by 5.30-6 p.m. Then I've a good three hours of play and bath time with them," she said.

On Fridays, Gurinder takes her twins to work and they are well looked after by her cast and crew.

"Believe it or not I get more work done on that day than any other. Everyone in the unit just takes over the twins. I don't get to be with them for even a minute. They're so much in demand. By far Kumiko and Raunak are my most prized productions."

(Subhash K. Jha can be contacted at jhasubh@gmail.com)

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