Bend It like Beckham

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Bend It like Beckham
Two sporty girls hugging.
British release poster
Directed by Gurinder Chadha
Produced by
  • Gurinder Chadha
  • Deepak Nayare
Written by
Narrated by Charlotte Hill
Music by Craig Pruess
Cinematography Jong Lin
Edited by Justin Krish
British Sky Broadcasting
British Screen Productions
Helkon Media AG
Distributed by Redbus Film Distribution (UK)
Fox Searchlight Pictures (US)
iDream Productions (India)
Release dates
  • 12 April 2002 (2002-04-12) (United Kingdom)
  • 1 August 2003 (2003-08-01) (United States)
Running time
112 minutes
  • United Kingdom
  • India
  • United States
  • English
  • Punjabi
  • German
  • Hindi
Budget $6 million (£3.7 million) estimated
Box office $76,583,333[1]

Bend It like Beckham is a 2002 British comedy-drama film starring Parminder Nagra, Keira Knightley, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Anupam Kher, Shaznay Lewis and Archie Panjabi, first released in the United Kingdom. The film was directed by Gurinder Chadha. Its title refers to the football player David Beckham and his skill at scoring from free kicks by "bending" the ball past a wall of defenders.

The movie is about the 18-year-old daughter of Punjabi Sikhs in London. She is infatuated with football but her parents have forbidden her to play because she is a girl. She joins a local women's team, which makes its way to the top of the league.

A stage musical version of the film will open at London's Phoenix Theatre in 2015.[2]


Jesminder "Jess" Bhamra is the 18-year-old daughter of Punjabi Sikh Indians from Hounslow in west London. Jess is infatuated with football but her parents have forbidden her to play because she is a girl. She plays in the park sometimes with her good friend Tony, a closeted homosexual and his buddies, where her skills draw the attention of Juliette "Jules" Paxton, who plays for the women's team of the local club, the fictional Hounslow Harriers. Their coach, Joe, is impressed with her play and puts her on the team. Jess pretends to have a job to play with the team and Jules and Jess become best friends, despite the fact that both are attracted to Joe. Jess enlists her sister Pinky to cover for her when the team travels to Germany for a big match, but everything unravels when Jules spies Joe kissing Jess, causing a breach between them, and Jess's parents find out and forbid her to continue. Meanwhile, Jules's mother wrongly thinks Jules is a lesbian and the girls' spat is a lovers' quarrel. Jess's parents are confronted by a similar accusation before Jess reveals the truth about her attraction to Joe.

While the elder Bhamras are distracted by the elaborate preparations for Pinky's upcoming wedding, Jess continues to play and the Hounslow Harriers make their way towards the top of the league. Joe encourages Jess to come clean with her parents and eventually approaches Mr. Bhamra to explain she has a chance to win a prestigious scholarship, but Mr. Bhamra refuses to believe it. Jess and Jules must sort their differences, make peace with their parents, and overcome cultural prejudice to win the league championship, and earn scholarships to Santa Clara University in California.



There is a rumour that the film's plot originally resolved with the two female leads ending up together romantically but director Gurinder Chadha rewrote the script for fear of upsetting conservative Indians, however this is untrue. The film has an important message about challenging homophobia and the role of women in society.[3]


Critical response[edit]

The film surprised the critics and it was met with mostly positive reviews. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times noted that the film "was really full of easy humor, an impeccable sense of milieu that is the result of knowing the culture intimately enough to poke fun at it while understanding its underlying integrity."[4] The Times of India noted that Bend It "is really about the bending of rules, social paradigms and lives – all to finally curl that ball, bending it like Beckham, through the goalpost of ambition [...] The creeping divide shows that Britain is changing, but hasn't quite changed yet. The stiff upper lip has travelled miles from the time Chadha's father was denied a pint at some pubs at Southall, but like dollops of coagulated spice in badly stirred curry, discrimination crops up to spoil the taste, every now and then, in multi-racial Britain."[5]

Planet Bollywood gave the film a 9 out of 10 and stated that the "screenplay not only explores the development of Jesse as a person, but also the changing values and culture of NRI teens: Jesse's urge to break the social norm of the Indian homemaker, her sister's (Archie Punjabi) sexually-active relationship, and the gay Indian [Tony, played by Ameet Chana]."[6] The Hindu argues, "if ever there is a film that is positive, realistic and yet delightful, then it has to be Dream Production's latest venture directed by Gurinder Chadha [...] Light hearted, without taking away the considerable substance in terms of values, attitudes and the love for sport, the film just goes to prove that there are ways to be convincing and honest."[7] The BBC gave it 4 out of 5 stars and argued that "Mr. Beckham ought to be proud to have his name on such a great film."[8]

Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives Bend It like Beckham a rating of 85%, based upon 147 reviews (125 fresh and 22 rotten).[9]

The British film went on to set the record in India for most number of tickets sold during a single weekend for a foreign movie. It also went on to become the highest-grossing Indian-themed film ever in the USA with $32 million in box office revenue.[10] The film was distributed by iDream Productions in India.[11]

Awards and nominations[edit]



Music From the Motion Picture Bend It Like Beckham
Soundtrack album by Various artists
Released 2002
Genre Bhangra
Label Milan Entertainment (US)
Cube Records (UK)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars link

The UK release of the soundtrack features bhangra music, songs by Spice Girls' Victoria Beckham (whose song "IOU" can be heard during a scene involving Jules's mother but was not included on the original soundtrack) and Melanie C (whose song "I Turn To You" was used in the film but is not included in the soundtrack) and the band Texas. It also features "Baddest Ruffest" by Backyard Dog, the aria Nessun Dorma, from Puccini's Turandot and excerpts from the dance band Basement Jaxx. The USA release rearranges the tracks and excludes some material. The single "Dream the Dream", which is recorded by Shaznay Lewis (who portrays Mel in the film) appears in the movie but didn't make it the final cut on the soundtrack.

UK release
  1. Craig Pruess & Bally Sagoo Feat. Gunjan – "Titles"
  2. Blondie – "Atomic"
  3. Backyard Dog – "Baddest Ruffest"
  4. B21 – "Darshan"
  5. (Movie Dialogue) – "It's Beckham's Corner"
  6. Victoria Beckham – "I Wish"
  7. (Movie Dialogue) – "Learn To Cook Dahl"
  8. Malkit Singh – "Jind Mahi"
  9. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – "Tere Bin Nahin Lagda" craig michael
  10. Bally Sagoo Feat Gunjan – "Noorie"
  11. (Movie Dialogue) – "Juicy Juicy Mangoes"
  12. Basement Jaxx – "Do Your Thing"
  13. (Movie Dialogue) – "Eyes Down"
  14. Texas – "Inner Smile"
  15. Melanie C – "Independence Day" (New Version)
  16. (Movie Dialogue) – "Can't Make Round Chapattis"
  17. Hans Raj Hans – "Punjabiyan Di Shaan"
  18. Gunjan – "Kinna Sohna"
  19. Tito Beltrán – "Nessun Dorma"
  20. (Movie Dialogue) – "The Offside Rule Is"
  21. Bina Mistry – "Hot Hot Hot"
  22. Craig Pruess & Bally Sagoo Feat. Gunjan – "Hai Raba!"
  23. Curtis Mayfield – "Move on Up"
US release
  1. Craig Pruess & Bally Sagoo Feat. Gunjan – "Titles"
    • (Movie Dialogue) – "It's Beckham's Corner"
  2. Texas – "Inner Smile"
  3. Malkit Singh – "Jind Mahi"
  4. Bally Sagoo Feat Gunjan – "Noorie"
    • (Movie Dialogue) – "Learn To Cook Dahl"
  5. Victoria Beckham – "I Wish"
    • (Movie Dialogue) – "Juicy Juicy Mangoes"
  6. Gunjan – "Kinna Sohna"
  7. Partners in Rhyme (featuring Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan) – "Tere Bin Nahin Lagda"
    • (Movie Dialogue) – "Can't Make Round Chapattis"
  8. Melanie C – "Independence Day"
  9. B21 – "Darshan"
    • (Movie Dialogue) – "Eyes Down"
  10. Bina Mistry – "Hot Hot Hot"
  11. Blondie – "Atomic"
  12. Craig Pruess & Bally Sagoo Feat. Gunjan – "Hai Raba!"
  13. Tito Beltrán – "Nessun Dorma"

North Korean broadcast[edit]

To mark the tenth anniversary of North Korea's relations with the United Kingdom, an edited version of Bend It Like Beckham was broadcast on North Korean state television on 26 December 2010. The British Ambassador to South Korea, Martin Uden, said it was the "1st ever Western-made film to air on TV" in North Korea.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bend It like Beckham at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ Bend it like Beckham musical becomes a reality. London Box Office. 4 November 2014
  3. ^ writers Gurinder Chadha and Paul Mayeda Berges
  4. ^,0,1968425.story[dead link]
  5. ^ Review: Bend it like Beckham is like curry at the Wayback Machine (archived March 2, 2009). Times of India review. 10 July 2002
  6. ^ Bend It Like Beckham. Planet Bollywood review. (27 June 2003). Retrieved on 3 November 2011.
  7. ^ Bend It Like Beckham. The Hindu. 19 July 2002
  8. ^ Jamie Russell Bend it Like Beckham (2002). (11 April 2002). Retrieved on 3 November 2011.
  9. ^ "Bend It Like Beckham". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 5 October 2010. 
  10. ^ Dropping Lesbian Romance from Beckham the Right Decision. Retrieved on 3 November 2011.
  11. ^ SSKI's Shripal Morakhia divests 50% stake in iDream to management team. Indiantelevision. April 23, 2014.
  12. ^
  13. ^ "North Korea bends it like Beckham in UK film first". BBC. 30 December 2010. Retrieved 30 December 2010. 

External links[edit]