For all its light-hearted comic interludes, Bend it like Beckham
tackles contemporary issues of cultural clashes, female independence and the importance of family. Director Gurinder Chaddha tells the story of Jess Bhamra (Parminder K Nagra), a young girl brought up within the traditional boundaries of a Sikh family who manages to live out her fantasies in an uproarious way. Despite her parent's grounded roots the anglicised Jess joins the Hounslow Harriers and, with the help of her friend Jules (Keira Knightley), sneaks out of the house to follow her dream of playing alongside all-time hero David Beckham.
The film draws interesting parallels between the two girls, one British and one Asian, highlighting that although their colour may be different many of their ideals are the same. Jules' British mother is no less horrified by her daughter's natural talent in soccer than Mrs Bhamra, and even mistakes one embrace between the girls as a lesbian relationship. Refreshingly, though, for once the parents are not portrayed as unreasonable: their disapproval of Jess' chosen path is a result of their concern for her, and in the end they can't help but to give in to her dreams. All in all, this is a film that shows the meaning of being British Asian today--and how it is possible for Asian girls to make round chapattis as well as to bend it like Beckham. --Anika Puri
West London teenager Jess Bhamra (Parminder Nagra) dreams of having a professional football career, even though her parents are determined that she study to be a lawyer. When she is invited by local girl Jules Paxton (Keira Knightley) to join a women's football team, Jess jumps at the chance, and the team's coach Joe (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is impressed with her abilities. With Jess and Jules on board, the team begins a winning streak which puts them on track for the finals. However, in the face of continued opposition from her family, and after a falling-out with Jules, Jess is forced to reconsider her future in the game.