What an epic combination it would be to see a crossover of British Indian characters in a film and the same highlighting the social issues like racism and social differences. Well, one such film which stood out from out the lot and made a mark was a 2002 release, ‘Bend It Like Beckham’, an evergreen cult classic!
So, how this film came into being, let’s transport you back to the memorylane!
It was in late 90’s Gurinder Chadda came to India along with her husband Paul Mayeda Berges for the possibility of directing a Hindi film for ‘Dharmendra’s Vijeta Productions’. She spent a lot of her time at Dharmendra’s farmhouse to work on the script and understand the way Hindi film industry functions. The film titled, ‘London’ finally went on the floor in London with Sunny Deol, Bobby Deol & Karishma Kapoor. Although, Sunny was not happy the way Gurinder was making the film thus he called Rahul Rawail from India to help Chadda with the film. Also Read : 13 Sports Movies That Stem From The Roots Of Punjab!
Unfortunately things still didn't work out which resulted in removal of Gurinder from the director’s seat and ‘London’ was shelved. Later, it was re-started as ‘Dillagi’ with Sunny Deol as director. Gurinder then started working on another film, ‘What’s Cooking’, which could not create any buzz.
Thus, she decided to write a film based on her teen years experience and brought the concept of women soccer team to the subject.Her husband and a friend Guljeet Bindra joined in as writers and that’s how cult ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ came into the picture. Also Read : Chadi Jawani Budhe Nu: One Of The Rare Punjabi Films Based On A Theatre Play
About the casting process Parminder Nagra was selected for the lead part of Jess, but a few days before the shoot, she conveyed to Chadda through her agent that she had burn scars on her leg, considering she was required to shoot in shorts she feared that she would be removed from the film. Gurinder went to meet her and saw the scars. Who knew, what Parminder thought would turn against her,worked in her favor as Chadda added it in the script that Jess had accidently burned her legs while making a toast,a true life incident from Parminder's childhood. Isn’t that fascinating? Also Read : Udikan Saun Dian: A Lost Gem Of The 90s
Well, Keira Knightley was shortlisted to play the part of Juliette. Once while going through a story session Keira asked if she (Chadda) had met her mother or been to her home as she felt it was her life's story and escatic Gurinder selected her for the part. Gurinder had previously worked with Zohra Sehgal, so she joined in for small part.While Anupam Kher was selected through an agent.The most of junior cast was Gurinder Chadda's relatives or friends. Both Parminder & Keira went through a month-long training session of soccer.
David Beckham was a star footballer and a youth icon for boys and girls.
This was the reason film was tilted, ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ as Chadda felt that the girls have to live their choice of life by twisting the hurdles on their way, referring to Beckham's goal skills by bending the ball. Though David Beckham was popular in the UK but distributors of US were not much familiar with his popularity and insisted Chadda on changing the title but she didn’t agree. Also Read : International Sikh Influencers You Might Have Missed!
Talking about the story, ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ portrayed the story about a teenage British Sikh girl who wants to be a sportsperson in the field of Football but her parents opposed the idea.Her mother reasons that her skin would turn black and they would face difficulty in finding a groom for her. Thus, Jess secretly joins a local women's football team. One of the final match’s date clashed with her sister's wedding day. Now, missing the match meant her losing the opportunity of sport scholarship in a reputed University of California. It was then her father who came to the rescue and she managed to play the game, which paved a way for career she has been dreaming of. Also Read : Karan Johar’s Uncontrollable Punjabi Habit!
The film had Parminder Nagra and Keira Knightley (who has since then became one big star in Hollywood) as leading protagonists with rest of the cast consisting of Anupam Kher, Shaheen Khan, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Archie Punjabi, Juliet Stevenson, Ameet Chana, Kulvinder Ghir and Zohra Sehgal.
As a film, ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ was not about Jess's dream of being a footballer but it also talked about racism,cultural differences,homophobia and class systems. Chadda beautifully wove all these aspects in the film which has recently completed 20 years of its release. Also Read : 5 Classics Of Late Jaspal Bhatti Which Must Be On Your Watchlist!
Since then no other crossover films based on British Indian characters had done so well.Even after two decades, ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ is so fresh and relevant till today and years to come.
Well, don’t forget to share your views on this movie if you’ve already watched it.
1.After watching the film, many UK girls aspired to join the football game and made a mark in the game.
2.The film was able to portray the difference between Sikhs & Muslims which was well received by the audience. As a result of which, it is even believed that the crime rate against Sikhs in UK & USA reduced, as earlier Sikhs were being associated with 9/11.
3.Shyam Benegal, Govind Nihalani, Urmila Matondkar, Rani Mukherjee, Anil Kapoor, Ashtosh Gowatrikar and Rahul Bose had attended the success bash of the film in Mumbai.
4.Gurinder Chadda's mother and aunts had appeared in the wedding sequence of the film.
5.Film’s Hindi version was called ‘Football Shootball Hai Rabba’.
6.Gurinder Chadda sent the script to David Beckham for his approval to use his name in the title.His wife Victoria Beckham loved it and approved the script.
7.In India, it had to face competition in release with Bollywood biggies like ‘Devdas’ and ‘Humraaz’.
8.Hindi film makers took a subplot and characters from the film. The nagging loud Punjabi mother’s character was later on played by Kirron Kher in several hindi films while exact gay subplot was also used in movies like ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’ and others.
9.Gurinder Chadda announced the sequel of the film in 2005 but it fell through. However, recently she again talked about the possibility of its sequel.
10.Made in the small budget of 6 million, the film grossed over 100 million worldwide.
11.US distributors had suggested the title ‘Soccer & Me’.
12.A Musical play has been made based on the film.
13.Sunny Deol who had removed Chadda from the film, ‘ London’ believing she is not a good director had to eat his pride when ‘Bend It Like Becham’ clashed with ‘The Hero’ in 2003 in one of US territories and outscored Sunny Deol's film.
14.Film is available on OTT Platform Disney Plus Hotstar.
15.The film had soundtracks of renowned Asian artists like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Malkit Singh, B21, Bina Mistry, Hans Raj Hans & Bally Sagoo.