Bend It Like Beckham

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Bend It Like Beckham
Two sporty girls hugging.
British theatrical release poster
Directed byGurinder Chadha
Produced by
  • Gurinder Chadha
  • Deepak Nayare
Written by
Story byGurinder Chadha
Music byCraig Pruess
CinematographyJong Lin
Edited byJustin Krish
Distributed by
Release date
  • 12 April 2002 (2002-04-12)
Running time
112 minutes[1]
  • United Kingdom
  • Germany
Budget$6 million (£3.7 million)
Box office$76.6 million[2]

Bend It Like Beckham is a 2002 British-Indian family romantic comedy sports film produced, written and directed by Gurinder Chadha, and starring Parminder Nagra, Keira Knightley, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Anupam Kher, Shaznay Lewis and Archie Panjabi.

The film's title refers to the football player David Beckham, and his skill at scoring from free kicks by curling the ball past a wall of defenders. It follows 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.

Bend It Like Beckham was released theatrically on 12 April 2002 by Redbus Film Distribution, and on DVD and VHS on 18 November 2002 by Warner Home Video. The film surprised critics and was met with mostly positive reviews. It earned over $76 million on a $6 million budget. A stage musical version opened at London's Phoenix Theatre on 24 June 2015.[3]


Jesminder "Jess" Bhamra (Parminder Nagra) is the 18-year-old daughter of Punjabi Sikhs living in Hounslow, London. Juliette "Jules" Paxton (Keira Knightley) is the same age and the daughter of a native English family. Jess is infatuated with football, but because she is a woman, her conservative family won't let her play. However, she sometimes plays in the park with boys, including her best friend, Tony (Ameet Chana), a closeted gay man.

Whilst on a jog through the park, Jules discovers Jess's skills, befriends her, and invites her to try out for the local women's football team, the Hounslow Harriers coached by Joe (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). Jess is extremely happy and excited about the tryouts, even though Joe is sceptical about a new player joining the team. After seeing Jess's skills, Joe accepts her on the team and Jess lies to Joe about her parents being cool with the idea.

Jess's parents (Anupam Kher and Shaheen Khan) eventually discover that Jess has been playing football behind their backs. They become more strict and forbid Jess to play in any more matches. The elder Bhamras are also distracted by their elaborate wedding plans for Jess's older sister, Pinky (Archie Panjabi). Thanks to the skills of Jess and Jules, the Harriers reach the finals of the league tournament. Unfortunately, the finals and Pinky's wedding fall on the same day.

Joe pleads with Mr Bhamra to allow Jess to play, but Mr Bhamra refuses, which reveals that he does not want Jess to suffer the way he did when he was excluded from a cricket club because of being Indian. Jess develops an attraction toward Joe, and when the team plays in Hamburg, Germany and goes out clubbing, they're caught by Jules when about to kiss. Jules also has a crush on Joe, and this sours the two girls' friendship, as Jules is adamant that she had told Jess about her crush. When Jess goes to Jules's house to try to patch up their friendship, Jules's mother (Juliet Stevenson) is misled and thinks they're hiding a lesbian relationship.

Joe accepts that Jess is not allowed to play and the final begins without her. But halfway through Pinky's wedding, Tony convinces Mr Bhamra to let Jess go. He agrees, and Tony drives Jess to the game, where the Harriers are losing 1–0 with half an hour left. Jess and Jules tie the score, and when Jess is awarded a free kick, she must bend the ball around the wall of players to score. She succeeds and the Harriers win the tournament. Jess and Jules are offered sports scholarships at Santa Clara University in California, which Jules tells her parents immediately, whereas Jess has trouble telling hers. Jules and her mother arrive at Pinky's wedding so that Jules can celebrate with Jess. When Mrs Paxton accuses Jess of being a hypocrite and a lesbian, Jules grabs her mother and runs off in shame.

Jess has still not told her parents about the scholarship – she is afraid they might not allow her to go to the United States on her own. Tony, out of friendship for Jess, decides to lie to the family and tell them he is engaged to Jess as long as she gets to go to any college she wants. Jess reveals the lie and her mother blames Jess's father for allowing her to play. Jess's father convinces her mother to accept Jess's wishes after telling her he doesn't want Jess to suffer as he did. Jess flees to the football field to tell Joe of her parents' decision. The two almost kiss, but Jess pulls away, saying her parents would object, and that although they had come far enough to let her go to America to play, she doesn't think they would be able to handle another cultural rebellion from her.

On the day of Jess and Jules's flight to America, Jules's mother gives her daughter a football jersey and wishes her good luck, this being her way of telling her daughter that she has accepted Jules's decision. The two are about to board the plane when Joe arrives and confesses his love for Jess. The two kiss and Jess agrees to sort out their relationship (and her parents) when she returns for Christmas. While at the airport, they see David Beckham with his wife Victoria, which Jules takes as a sign. Jess and Jules send their parents a team photograph, and it is revealed that Pinky is pregnant. Finally, Mr Bhamra is seen practising cricket with Joe's help.



Gurinder Chadha co-wrote the script with Guljit Bindra and screenwriting partner Paul Mayeda Berges. Nayar and Chadha actively pursued financing for the film at Sundance Film Festival. Having previously worked with Road Movies, a German production company on several other projects, Nayar approached them and they came on board, followed by British Screen and The Film Council.

Helkon SK, formerly known as Redbus, picked up the script. Fox Searchlight Pictures picked up the rights for distribution in the United States at the Cannes Film Festival in 2002.[4]


Principal photography began on 18 June 2001. A variety of locations around London and Shepperton Studios were used for the nine-week shoot, with the semi-final taking place over a three-day period in Hamburg, Germany.[4]


The film was situated in Hounslow in West London.

Chadha, who played an active role in casting, chose Parminder Nagra and Keira Knightley, who would play the two lead roles in the film, while Archie Panjabi and Jonathan Rhys Meyers were in early talks to join the cast. Shaznay Lewis and Anupam Kher were also in final talks. Juliet Stevenson and Frank Harper joined as Paula Paxton and Alan Paxton, mother and father of Jules.

For the role of Jess's mother, Mrs Bhamra, Chadha turned to Shaheen Khan, whom she had previously cast in Bhaji on the Beach. Anupam Kher, a Bollywood actor, was cast as Mr Bhamra, Jess's father. Chadha worked with The Football Association and ended up casting actual players from a variety of school teams.[4]



Bend It Like Beckham was released theatrically on 12 April 2002 by Redbus Film Distribution. The film then received a limited theatrical release in the United States on 12 March 2003, by Fox Searchlight Pictures. When originally released in the United Kingdom, it topped the country's box office for the next three weekends, before being overtaken by About a Boy.[5][6]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD and VHS on 18 November 2002 by Warner Home Video. Among the DVD bonus features, there are several scenes that did not make the final release. Some include dialogue from Pinky's friends and from Jules, as well as her mother meeting Kevin and his friends outside a shop, which would have been helpful, as Kevin is mentioned three times but is never seen.


Critical response[edit]

Jonathan Rhys Meyers was praised by critics for his performance.

The film surprised critics and 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."[7]

The Times of India noted the film's social context, saying, "[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."[8]

Planet Bollywood gave the film a mark of 9 out of 10: 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 home-maker, her sister's (Archie Punjabi) sexually active relationship, and the gay Indian [Tony, played by Ameet Chana]."[9]

The Hindu argued, "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."[10]

Jamie Russell at 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."[11] Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives Bend It like Beckham a rating of 85 per cent based upon 147 reviews (125 positive, 22 negative).[12] The British film was distributed by iDream Productions in India,[13] and went on to set the record in India for most number of tickets sold during a single weekend for a foreign movie.

Box office[edit]

Bend It Like Beckham also became the highest grossing Indian-themed film ever in the United States, with $32 million in box office revenue.[14]





Music from the Motion Picture Bend It Like Beckham
Soundtrack album by
Various artists
LabelMilan Entertainment (US)
Cube Records (UK)
ProducerVarious artists

The release of the soundtrack in the United Kingdom features bhangra music, and songs by the Spice Girls' Victoria Beckham and Melanie C and rock band Texas. It also features "Baddest Ruffest" by Backyard Dog, the aria Nessun Dorma, from Puccini's Turandot and excerpts from dance band Basement Jaxx. The USA release rearranges the tracks and excludes some material. "Dream the Dream" appears in the movie but did not make the final cut on the soundtrack.

Release (United Kingdom)[edit]

  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"
  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"
  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"

Release (United States)[edit]

  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, Boxing Day. The British Ambassador to South Korea, Martin Uden, said it was the "first ever Western-made film to air on television" in North Korea.[16]

Stage musical[edit]

A stage musical version of the film opened at London's Phoenix Theatre in June 2015.[3]


  1. ^ "Bend It Like Beckham (12)". British Board of Film Classification. 11 March 2002. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  2. ^ Bend It Like Beckham at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ a b "Bend It Like Beckham the Musical".
  4. ^ a b c "Bend It Like Beckham : Production Notes".
  5. ^ "Weekend box office 12th April 2002 – 14th April 2002". Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  6. ^ "Weekend box office 19th April 2002 – 21st April 2002". Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  7. ^ Turan, Kenneth (12 March 2003). "Bend it Like Beckham: Movie Review". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 24 November 2007. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
  8. ^ "Review: Bend it like Beckham is like curry". Archived from the original on 2 March 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2008.. Times of India review. 10 July 2002
  9. ^ Bend It Like Beckham Archived 2 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine.. Planet Bollywood review. (27 June 2003). Retrieved on 3 November 2011.
  10. ^ Bend It Like Beckham. The Hindu. 19 July 2002
  11. ^ Jamie Russell Bend it Like Beckham (2002). (11 April 2002). Retrieved on 3 November 2011.
  12. ^ "Bend It Like Beckham". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 5 October 2010.
  13. ^ SSKI's Shripal Morakhia divests 50% stake in iDream to management team. Indiantelevision. 23 April 2014.
  14. ^ Dropping Lesbian Romance from Beckham the Right Decision Archived 15 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved on 3 November 2011.
  15. ^ "ESPN: The Worldwide Leader in Sports – ESPN". Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  16. ^ "North Korea bends it like Beckham in UK film first". BBC. 30 December 2010. Retrieved 30 December 2010.

External links[edit]