What inspired you to write "Bend it Like Beckham"?
I'm from Southall where the film's set and after "What's Cooking?" and spending a year in LA I wanted to come back and make a British film. My friend Guljit Bindra (who's one of the writers) was very interested in football and had the idea of a story about an Indian girl who loved footie. I introduced an English family and the backdrop of the sister's wedding to make it more commercial and more about femininity. The whole thing is about being a girl and the hoops that you go through to get what you want.
Shaznay Lewis plays the team captain. Were you nervous about casting a pop star?
I'm very particular about casting and I pay a lot of attention to it. With Shaznay, I'd read that she'd played a bit of football and sent her the script. She really loved it and wanted to start off with a small role. I was really impressed with her, she did a fabulous job and was there training with everyone else in the hot sun.
How did you feel when you heard the Beckhams were keen to appear in the film?
Well, the fact that they saw the film and loved it means a lot to me but it's very tricky scheduling a suitable time and I'm up against a deadline. I should just say "oh yeah, they're in it!" because the look-alikes are so good.
What are you doing next?
I've got a lot of projects that I'm pursuing right now. One's an American project produced by Mike Newell called "The Mistress of Spices", which is magical realism and the other is a musical, sort of "My Fair Lady" with a nod to Bollywood.