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Friday, 12 April, 2002, 08:29 GMT 09:29 UK
Beckham on bench for première
Shaznay Lewis, Keira Knightley, and Parminder Nagra
Stars: Shaznay Lewis, Keira Knightley, and Parminder Nagra
Injured football star David Beckham missed the world première of a new film release that bears his name.

Bend it Like Beckham is a feelgood British comedy about a young Asian woman who wants to become a professional footballer and idolises the Manchester United midfielder.

The player was to have attended the film's première at London's Leicester Square, but his broken foot put a stop to the plan.

Gurinder Chadha
Director Gurinder Chadha received a personal note from the Beckhams

David and his pop star wife Victoria sent a personal note to director Gurinder Chadha, apologising for not being able to attend and wishing her luck.

Talking about Beckham's injury, Chadha said: "I just know that he's really, really devastated and really upset and in hospital."

She added the couple had seen Bend it Like Beckham and "really liked the film a lot".

The player's sister-in-law, Louise Adams, did attend the première and she said her message to him was a simple one: "Just hurry up and get better."

'Bad luck'

Actress Parminder K Nagra, who plays the film's central character, Jess Bhamra, said she could sympathise with the injured England captain.

"It's like a singer losing their voice. It's just really bad luck that this happened to his foot," she said.

Film director Chadha's breakthrough was 1993's Bhaji on the Beach.

That was released in just five cinemas in the UK.

Bend it Like Beckham
The film celebrates female friendship
Film and football fans will be able to see Bend it Like Beckham at 450 venues from Friday.

The new film stars some big names, including singer Shaznay Lewis and actors Juliet Stephenson and Jonathan Rhys Myers.

The central character is a young Punjabi girl who lives in Southall, west London and has one abiding passion - David Beckham.

Hiding

However, she knows her parents, played by Shaheen Khan and Anupam Kher, would disapprove of her choice of idol.

She hides her passion even from her sister, Pinky (Archie Panjabi), who is about to marry her long-term boyfriend.

Natasha Hamilton (left) and Jenny Frost
Atomic Kitten's Natasha Hamilton and Jenny Frost were among the stars at the première
So when Jess is invited to try out for Hounslow Harriers women's football team, coached by former professional Joe (Rhys Meyers), she jumps at the opportunity.

Before long, she is donning her boots every week behind her parent's back and fostering a firm friendship with striker Jules Paxton (Keira Knightley).

Eventually, her parents discover their daughter's deception and forbid her from walking on to the pitch again, and Jess must choose between her family and her happiness.

The film is now out on general release across the UK.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's David Sillito
"Glitz and glamour but no guest of honour"
See also:

11 Apr 02 | Football
World Cup hope for injured Beckham
19 Jun 01 | Music
Shaznay shooting first movie
11 Apr 02 | Football
FA backs Becks appeal
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