It's A Wonderful Afterlife was filmed at Ealing Studios and on location in London
By Liam Allen
Entertainment reporter, BBC News
Gurinder Chadha breaks a coconut at the start of shooting on every movie she makes, a tradition she picked up from filming 2004's Bride and Prejudice in India.
Comedy It's A Wonderful Afterlife - the story of Indian mother Mrs Sethi who takes the ultimate revenge on families who reject her efforts to marry off her daughter - was no exception.
"It's become a kind of 'bless this ship and all who sail in her' kind of moment," the writer/director explains.
"It brings all the crew together and it's become a tradition that they really expect now."
After 17 years of making films - her first was Bhaji On The Beach in 1993 - other aspects of Chadha's work have also become traditional.
In her films, which mainly centre around the lives of British Asians, she often recasts actors she has worked with before.
In It's A Wonderful Afterlife, Shaheen Khan, Adlyn Ross, Ash Varrez all play the ghosts of "curry killer" Mrs Sethi's victims.
All three have previously worked with Chadha on both Bhaji On The Beach and 2002's Bend It Like Beckham, which starred Keira Knightley and was the director's first international hit.
Chadha, who at the age of 50 is already a veteran British film-maker, said: "It definitely gets easier and it definitely gets more fun.
"I never went to film school and so I've sort of learnt as I've gone along on every film."
She adds: "It's because I'm more comfortable with it - I instinctively know how I want a scene to look and feel and I know how it's going to work in the edit."
Chadha's pedigree, it would seem, also makes it easier to attract talented actors.
Sendhil Ramamurthy and Goldy Notay share a screen kiss in the film
British cast members include Golden Globe-winner Sally Hawkins, My Family star Zoe Wanamaker, comic actor Sanjeev Bhaskar, East Is East star Jimi Mistry and the Full Monty's Mark Addy.
"I just think, 'okay, who's a good person for this role, who can do it, who can I see doing it, who's got a bit of a profile' and that's how I proceed," says Chadha.
International flavour is provided by Bollywood legend Shabana Azmi - described by Chadha as "India's Meryl Streep" - who plays Mrs Sethi, "a serial killer that we want to sympathize with".
And US actor and Heroes star Sendhil Ramamurthy plays the love interest of Mrs Sethi's daughter Roopi, played by up-and-coming British actress Goldy Notay, who had to pile on the pounds for the role.
Ramamurthy, who plays geneticist Mohinder Suresh in the US drama, said working with Chadha was "the main reason I took the part".
The 35-year-old, who studied drama at London's Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, added: "She's somebody that I wanted to work with and, when she called to offer the part, I was so thrilled.
"I've done TV leading roles but this was my first as a leading man.
"I was excited and nervous about that.
"But, also, the cast are people that I've looked up to forever.
"I remember when I was at drama school in London, queuing for returns to see Zoe Wanamaker, and then I was doing scenes with her."
Ramamurthy's leading man duties included a kissing scene - Goldy Notay's first - on London's Southbank.
"She was nervous and I was trying to be overtly not nervous to make her feel more comfortable and, hopefully, we pulled it off and it was a nice little moment in the film."
But the most memorable moments in the film - described by its producers as "My Big Fat Greek Wedding meets Shaun Of The Dead" - come during a wedding scene, inspired by 1976 horror film Carrie.
A wedding scene descends into supernatural chaos
Supernatural forces take over, causing havoc with the wedding banquet.
Despite some lukewarm reviews for the film - Screen International called it "a predictable dish with nothing new or too adventurous" while Digital Spy said it was "so bizarre it defies explanation" - few viewers will fail to be amused by Chadha's Stephen King homage.
"We had rockets underneath the table to throw curry up in the air and throw poppadoms in the air and we were pelting everyone with samosas.
"And then we have tandoori chickens flying through the air and it was just a lot of fun.
"I think, particularly a British Asian audience, we don't make those sort of movies for ourselves and we don't see ourselves in those kind of movies."
It's A Wonderful Afterlife is in UK cinemas from 21 April.