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Last Updated:  Thursday, 11 April, 2002, 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK
Beckham film director shoots to score
By Rebecca Thomas
BBC News Online

Bend it Like Beckham
The movie presents women as a match for men
Bend It Like Beckham's focus on women's football would also seem to be poking fun at staunch traditionalists in the game.

On top of that, the movie focuses on the Asian community and, as such, risks causing confusion to audiences in its mixture of genre.

But director Gurinder Chadha, a warm and vivacious character, laughs at the suggestion that she is out to rub anyone up the wrong way.

She admits that her film challenges stereotypical images. But, she says, her aim is always and only to make her audiences think.

"I want to show audiences characters they might not be that familiar with," Chadha says.

"My aim is to take people into a world they only vaguely know so they are moved, informed and excited - that's what I believe cinema should be about."

Tradition

Bend it Like Beckham takes us into the life of Jess, played by Parminder Nagra, a teenager from an Indian family in west London.

Chadha: A rebel as a young girl
Jess is crazy about football and David Beckham, and is herself a very talented player on the quiet.

But her life becomes increasingly complicated as she tries to keep her membership of a local girls' team secret from her strict parents.

In their minds, a woman playing football is inconceivable and they want Jess to learn how to cook and settle into an arranged marriage.

The story sounds somewhat implausible but Chadha's movie emerges as a delightful, thought-provoking and joyous breath of fresh air.

And it easily ranks alongside the likes of East is East and The Full Monty in terms of classy British comedies.

Chadha, who grew up in Southall in west London with her Asian parents, says she was inspired to make the film in the World Cup year of 1998.

"I recognised how important the game was to the national psyche," Chadha says.

The girls in the movie unite in their love of football
"But I also realised that football was not my world but their world - a man's world and a white man's world.

"It's completely opposite to what an Asian girl might be about. So I wanted to take that world and put an Indian girl right in the middle of it. "

Identity

Chadha says that like her heroine Jess, she was a bit of a rebel.

"It's very much about the side of me that wanted to do things differently," says Chadha.

"But I also had to grapple with the idea of being a perfect Indian daughter and wanting to keep my parents happy."

However, as Bend it Like Beckham progresses, it becomes clear that this is not simply a film just about Asian culture.

It is about the deeper issue of what it means to be British.

Jess's family is seen ultimately to be remarkably similar in its suburban values to that of her friend Jules.

Parminder Nagra stars in Bend It Like Beckham
Jess goes against her parents' cultural influence
"It's a celebration of Britishness and British identity," affirms Chadha.

Her previous works include Bhaji on the Beach, about a group of Indian women from Birmingham who take a day trip to Blackpool.

What's Cooking, her second film, focuses on the multi-cultural suburban community in Los Angeles.

Taken as a body, Chadha's work celebrates her underlying belief that people the world over are united by shared desires and needs.

And as a metaphor for that unity, nothing could be better than the world of football and the international hero David Beckham.





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WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Razia Iqbal
speaks to the director of the film Gurinder Chadha



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