Disney is getting its first Indian princess

A Disney musical film inspired by a dynamic princess from Indian history is in the works

Disney Princesses Rapunzel, Jasmine, Mulan, and Moana

An Indian Disney princess will be introduced very soon.

Earlier this December 2022, it was revealed that Disney has tapped filmmakers Gurinder Chadha and Paul Mayeda Berges to create an original musical film, inspired by a dynamic princess from Indian history.

Best known for their work in the 2002 sports comedy-drama film Bend It Like Beckham, spouses Chadha and Berges will both write the Disney Princess movie, with the former also serving as the director and producer. Deadline reported that the project is under the umbrella of Sean Bailey, President of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production.

Who is the first Indian Disney princess?

According to Mashable and other news sites that picked up the news, the Indian princess who will star in the movie is named Ananya. Though this has yet to be confirmed by Disney, the lead character of the film will be the fifth princess of color to be featured in a Disney movie. She will join Jasmine from the 1992 movie Aladdin, Mulan from the 1998 film of the same name, Tiana from 2009’s The Princess and the Frog, Moana from her namesake 2016 movie, and Raya from the 2021 flick Raya and The Last Dragon.

What will the movie be about?

Plot details are being kept under wraps, but in a recent interview at the Red Sea International Film Festival earlier this week, Chadha shared that she’s doing her best to make sure that the movie won’t be a replica of any of the previous Disney Princess movies.

“Let me tell you, it’s not easy writing a Disney princess movie,” Chadha told Deadline. “It’s a very hard thing to do because there are certain rules you have to follow and you also don’t want to repeat yourself. I don’t want to make Mulan again for example, I want to do my own thing. But at the same time there are very strong Disney princesses out there so to do something different but still within the genre, it’s an interesting balance to explore as a creator.”

Chadha is producing the project with Lindy Goldstein through her Lindy Goldstein Production banner and with Jessica Virtue, Disney’s Vice President of Production. “Together all of us are really shaping this story which, I hope once we’ve got to a good stage, we’re ready to share,” said Chadha.

Why did Gurinder Chadha accept the project?

Gurinder Chadha
Gurinder Chadha | Credit: Montclair Film/Wikimedia Commons

Chadha recalled that when Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production President Sean Bailey approached her about the idea for an Indian princess movie, she straightforwardly said, “Hell yeah! That’s me!”

As for why she accepted the project right away, Chadha explained: “I say yes to things that I think will inspire other people, that’s what I like. If I read something that I feel is inspiring and changes the needle in some way when it comes to prejudice or diversity or challenges racism or sexism and all that, then I’ll sign on to that and make it more.”

Who is Gurinder Chadha?

A British film director of Indian origin, Chadha is a two-time BAFTA nominee. She got her first BAFTA nomination for her work in the 1993 film Bhaji on the Beach. She shared the nomination with Nadine Marsh-Edwards, who produced the comedy drama film.

Chadha’s second BAFTA nomination came in 2003 for her work in the 2002 film Bend It Like Beckham, which she directed, wrote, and produced. She shared the nomination with Deepak Nayar, who also produced the movie.

Bend It Like Beckham, which tells the story of two ladies who chase careers in professional football despite their parents’ opposition, received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture (Musical or Comedy), a BAFTA Award nomination for Best British Film, a European Film Academy nomination for Best Film, and a Writers Guild of America nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

At the time of its release, Bend It Like Beckham became the highest-grossing British-financed and distributed film ever at the box office in the United Kingdom and topped box office charts internationally, grossing over $76 million worldwide.

Bend It Like Beckham - Trailer

Chadha’s other notable films includes 2004’s Bride & Prejudice, a film that marries Jane Austen with Indian and Western musicals; 2008’s Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, which is based on the international bestseller; 2010’s It’s a Wonderful Afterlife, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival before releasing internationally in 2010; and 2017’s Viceroy’s House, an epic drama on Indian Independence and Partition.

In addition to the Disney musical feature, Chadha is developing a Netflix project based on an Ancient Greek mythology character from “a feminist perspective.” She’s also working on a “very funny” script from Crazy Rich Asians writer Kevin Kwong.

Sources: Deadline, Mashable
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