Bend It Like Beckham

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Bend It Like Beckham
Two sporty girls hugging.
UK 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
  • Kintop Pictures
  • Bend It Films
  • Roc Media
  • Road Movies Filmproduktion[1]
Distributed by
Release date
  • 12 April 2002 (2002-04-12) (United Kingdom)
  • 3 October 2002 (2002-10-03) (Germany)[1]
  • 12 March 2003 (2003-03-12) (United States)
Running time
112 minutes[3]
Budget$6 million (£3.7 million)
Box office$104.6 million[4]

Bend It Like Beckham (also known as Kick It Like Beckham) is a 2002 romantic comedy sports film produced, written and directed by Gurinder Chadha, and starring Parminder Nagra, Keira Knightley, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Anupam Kher, Juliet Stevenson, Shaznay Lewis and Archie Panjabi.[5]

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 British Indian 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 was a surprise critical and commercial success. With a gross of $76.6 million at the box office, it is the highest-grossing sports film to focus on association football.[6] A stage musical version opened at London's Phoenix Theatre on 24 June 2015.[7]


Jesminder "Jess" Bhamra is the 18-year-old daughter of British Indian Sikhs living in Hounslow, London. Juliette "Jules" Paxton is the same age and the daughter of a white 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, a closeted gay man. Jules' father meanwhile is supportive of her passion for football, while her mother unsuccessfully tries to steer her more towards non-sporting girly activities.

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. Jess is extremely happy and excited about the tryouts, but Joe is skeptical about a new player joining the team. After seeing Jess's skills, Joe accepts her on the team; Jess lies to Joe about her parents being cool with the idea.

Jess's parents 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. 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, revealing 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 and goes out clubbing, Jules catches the pair about to kiss. Jules also is in love with Joe, and this sours the two girls' friendship, as Jules is adamant that she had told Jess about her crush. Jess's lie is uncovered again when Mr Bhamra sees a picture from Hamburg in a newspaper. Jess goes to Jules's house to try to patch up their friendship, but Jules's mother, confused, thinks they're hiding a lesbian relationship.

Jess tries to accept life without football, throwing herself into Pinky's wedding preparations, while Joe tells Jules that an American scout is touted to attend the final. Jules tries to convince Jess to play the final despite their now-tense relationship, and Joe on the eve of Pinky's wedding tries to convince Mr Bhamra one last time.

Joe accepts that Jess is not allowed to play and the final begins without her. But at Pinky's wedding Jess is miserable, so Tony convinces Mr Bhamra to let Jess go. Having previously seen Jess play and somehow convinced by it, he reluctantly agrees, and Tony drives Jess to the game, where the Harriers are losing 1–0 with half an hour left. Jess and Jules equalize, 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 - Jules informs 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. But when Mrs Paxton accuses Jess of being a hypocrite and a lesbian (which shows that she is homophobic), Jules grabs her arm 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. At a short undisclosed time later, 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.[8]


Principal photography began on 18 June 2001. A variety of locations around London and Shepperton Studios, Surrey were used for the nine-week shoot, with the semi-final taking place over a three-day period in Hamburg, Germany.[8]


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.[8]



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.[9][10]

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.

On the North American Billboard video charts, the film entered the top ten of the Top DVD Sales and Top DVD Rentals charts, at number six on Top VHS Sales, and number seven on Top VHS Rentals.[11]


Critical response[edit]

Bend It Like Beckham surprised critics and met with mostly positive reviews. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 85% based on 154 reviews, with an average rating of 7.2/10. The consensus states, "Inspiring, compassionate, and with a sly undercurrent of social commentary, Bend It Like Beckham is a lively feel-good movie that genuinely charms."[12] Metacritic gave the movie a score of 66 based 32 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[13]

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."[14]

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."[15]

Planet Bollywood gave the film a mark of 9 out of 10: the "screenplay not only explores the development of Jess as a person, but also the changing values and culture of NRI teens: Jess'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]."[16]

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."[17]

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."[18] The British film was distributed by iDream Productions in India,[19] and went on to set the record in India for most tickets sold during a single weekend for a foreign movie.[citation needed]

Box office[edit]

In the United Kingdom, the film grossed over £11 million, making it one of the highest-grossing Black/Asian-themed British films.[20] With $32.5 million in US box office revenue,[21] Bend It Like Beckham became the highest-grossing Indian-themed film in the United States[22] since Gandhi (1982).[23] At the time of its release, Bend It Like Beckham became the highest-grossing association football themed sports film in the United States; it remains the third highest-grossing film there in this genre (behind Kicking & Screaming and She's the Man).[24] The film grossed $76.6 million worldwide.[21]





Music from the Motion Picture Bend It Like Beckham
Soundtrack album by
Various artists
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"
  1. Texas – "Inner Smile"
  2. Malkit Singh – "Jind Mahi"
  3. Bally Sagoo Feat Gunjan – "Noorie"
    • (Movie Dialogue) – "Learn To Cook Dahl"
  1. Victoria Beckham – "I Wish"
    • (Movie Dialogue) – "Juicy Juicy Mangoes"
  1. Gunjan – "Kinna Sohna"
  2. Partners in Rhyme (featuring Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan) – "Tere Bin Nahin Lagda"
    • (Movie Dialogue) – "Can't Make Round Chapattis"
  1. Melanie C – "Independence Day"
  2. B21 – "Darshan"
    • (Movie Dialogue) – "Eyes Down"
  1. Bina Mistry – "Hot Hot Hot"
  2. Blondie – "Atomic"
  3. Craig Pruess & Bally Sagoo Feat. Gunjan – "Hai Raba!"
  4. 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.[26]

Stage musical[edit]

A stage musical version of the film opened at London's Phoenix Theatre in June 2015.[7]

On 7 May 2019 it was announced that the stage production, which debuted in London's West End, would have its North American premiere in Toronto, with a limited run at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts' Bluma Appel Theatre beginning in December 2019.


  1. ^ a b c "Kick It Like Beckham". (in German). Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Bend it Like Beckham (2002)". British Film Institute.
  3. ^ "Bend It Like Beckham (12)". British Board of Film Classification. 11 March 2002. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  4. ^ Bend It Like Beckham at Box Office Mojo
  5. ^ "What the cast of Bend It Like Beckham looks like now". Who. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  6. ^ "18 Winning Facts About Bend It Like Beckham". 12 March 2018. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Bend It Like Beckham the Musical".
  8. ^ a b c "Bend It Like Beckham : Production Notes".
  9. ^ "Weekend box office 12th April 2002 – 14th April 2002". Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  10. ^ "Weekend box office 19th April 2002 – 21st April 2002". Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  11. ^ "Home Video". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 115 (43): 55. 25 October 2003.
  12. ^ "Bend It Like Beckham". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  13. ^ "Bend It Like Beckham Reviews". Metacritic.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ "Review: Bend it like Beckham is like curry". Archived from the original on 2 March 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2008.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link) Times of India review. 10 July 2002
  16. ^ Bend It Like Beckham Archived 2 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine. Planet Bollywood review. (27 June 2003). Retrieved on 3 November 2011.
  17. ^ Bend It Like Beckham Archived 25 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine. The Hindu. 19 July 2002
  18. ^ Jamie Russell Bend it Like Beckham (2002). (11 April 2002). Retrieved on 3 November 2011.
  19. ^ SSKI's Shripal Morakhia divests 50% stake in iDream to management team. Indiantelevision. 23 April 2014.
  20. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Bend It Like Beckham (2002)". British Film Institute. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  21. ^ a b "Bend It Like Beckham (2003)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  22. ^ "Dropping Lesbian Romance from Beckham the Right Decision". Archived from the original on 15 April 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  23. ^ "Gandhi (1982)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  24. ^ "Sports - Soccer Movies at the Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on 12 June 2004.
  25. ^ "ESPN: The Worldwide Leader in Sports – ESPN". Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  26. ^ "North Korea bends it like Beckham in UK film first". BBC. 30 December 2010. Retrieved 30 December 2010.

External links[edit]