Bend It Like Beckham - Wikipedia Jump to content

Bend It Like Beckham

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bend It Like Beckham
Two sporty girls hugging.
UK theatrical release poster
Directed byGurinder Chadha
Written by
Story byGurinder Chadha
Produced by
  • Gurinder Chadha
  • Deepak Nayare
CinematographyJong Lin
Edited byJustin Krish
Music byCraig Pruess
  • Kintop Pictures
  • Bend It Films
  • Roc Media
  • Road Movies Filmproduktion[1]
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 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$5.6 million[4]
Box office$76.6 million[5]

Bend It Like Beckham is a 2002 sports comedy-drama film directed by Gurinder Chadha from a screenplay by Chadha, Paul Mayeda Berges, and Guljit Bindra. The film stars Parminder Nagra, Keira Knightley, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Anupam Kher, Juliet Stevenson, Shaznay Lewis and Archie Panjabi.[6] In Bend It Like Beckham, Jesminder Bhamra (Nagra) and Jules Paxton (Knightley) chase careers in professional football despite their parents' wishes.

Development for the film began after Chadha, Bindra, and Berges completed the screenplay by early 2001. Nagra and Knightley were hired soon after, with casting rounded out with the additions of Meyers, Kher, Stevenson, Lewis, and Panjabi by that May. Principal photography began in June 2001 and lasted until that September, with filming locations including London, Shepperton Studios, and Hamburg. Production collaborated with The Football Association, while the film's title refers to David Beckham's curling free kick technique, also known as bending.[7][8]

Bend It Like Beckham was theatrically released first in the United Kingdom on 12 April 2002 by Redbus Film Distribution. The film received generally positive reviews from critics, with praise for the screenplay, light-hearted tone, and commentary on Punjabi social norms and culture. Bend It Like Beckham grossed $76.6 million at the box office, making it the highest-grossing football sports film.[9] In 2015 it was adapted into a stage musical that opened at the Phoenix Theatre.[10]


18-year-old Jesminder "Jess" Bhamra is the daughter of British Indian Punjabi Sikhs living in Hounslow, London. Jess has a passion for football, but her parents do not support her interest. However, she sometimes plays in the park with boys, including her best friend, Tony, who is gay, although her family thinks he has his eye on her. Her family is occupied with planning for Jess's sister Pinky's imminent wedding.

Jules Paxton, a member of the Hounslow Harriers, a local women's amateur football team, notices Jess's football skills, befriends her, and invites her to try out for the team. The coach, Joe, a young Irish former player whose own career was derailed by injuries, accepts her into the team. Although Jess's parents (mainly her mother) forbid her to join the team, she plays behind their backs, claiming to have a summer job when she is actually at football practice. When he learns that Jess is on the team without her parents' permission, Joe pleads with Mr. Bhamra to allow Jess to play, but he refuses, revealing that he does not want Jess to suffer the way he did when he was excluded from a cricket club because of anti-Indian sentiment.

With Pinky covering for her, Jess travels with the team to play a match in Germany; the Harriers lose the match after Jess fails to score on a penalty kick. When they go out clubbing in Hamburg after the match, Jules catches Joe and Jess about to kiss. This sours the two girls' friendship, as Jules also is attracted to Joe despite denying fancying him when Jess asked her earlier. Furthermore, Jess's parents find out she is still on the team by seeing a newspaper article about the Hamburg match. After returning, Jess goes to Jules's house to try to patch up their friendship, but Jules's mother, confused by overhearing only parts of an argument out of context, thinks they are hiding a lesbian relationship.

Jess's father secretly attends one of her games, and sees Jess mocked with a racial slur by an opposing player, and Joe hugging her afterward to comfort her. The Harriers qualify for the finals of the league tournament, but the championship match—with an American talent scout in attendance—is to be held on the same day as Pinky's wedding, so Jess resigns herself to missing the game. At Pinky's wedding Jess is visibly miserable; her father tells her to go to the game so she can be happy on her sister's wedding day. The Harriers are behind 1–0 when Jess arrives, but they rally, and eventually Jess wins the game with a free kick. The scout offers Jess and Jules sports scholarships at Santa Clara University in California. Jules and Jess share a hug and kiss to celebrate, furthering Jules's mother's suspicions. Jess returns to the wedding, now able to celebrate. Jules's mother gives Jules a ride to the wedding as well, but when they arrive, Mrs. Paxton accuses Jess of being a hypocrite and a lesbian. Jules drags her mother away, angrily clarifying her relationship with Jess.

Later that day, 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 will get engaged to Jess as long as she gets to go to any college she wants. The Bhamras happily accept, but Jess immediately confesses the truth. Jess's mother ignores Jess's heartfelt speech and scolds Jess's father for letting Jess leave Pinky's wedding. But her father announces he doesn't want Jess to suffer as he did, and accepts her desire to play football. Jess runs 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, the two are about to board the plane when Joe arrives and confesses his love for Jess. The two kiss secretly 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 good sign. The two leave through the gate giving happy waves to their families.

While Jess and Jules are away, they send a team photo indicating their continued success in football. Mr and Mrs. Paxton also patch up their relationship, Pinky becomes pregnant and Mr. Bhamra gets back into playing cricket with Joe.



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. The film is loosely based on the life of Permi Jhooti.[11]

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.[12] For its American cinema release it was suggested that the title of the movie be changed to Move It Like Mia, as marketeers were concerned that American audience would be unfamiliar with David Beckham.[13]


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.[12]


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.[12]



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.[14][15]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD and VHS on 18 November 2002 by Warner Home Video, and re-released on DVD and VHS on 30 September 2003 in the United States by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. 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.[16]

In the United Kingdom, it was the sixth most-watched film of 2003 on subscription television, with 810,000 viewers on Sky Premier that year.[17] It was later the most-watched film on UK television during the first half of 2005, with 7.3 million viewers on BBC1 during that period.[18] Combined, the film drew at least 8.11 million UK viewership during 2003 and 2005.


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."[19] Metacritic gave the movie a score of 66 based on 32 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[20]

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."[21]

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."[22]

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]."[23]

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."[24]

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."[25] The British film was distributed by iDream Productions in India,[26] and went on to set the record in India for most tickets sold during a single weekend for a foreign movie.[citation needed]

Bend it Like Beckham has also been favorably received by LGBTQ+ community members and press, with one reviewer from Vice noting its discussion of queer themes and symbolic queer undertones. The reviewer also shares: "Keira Knightley told PrideSource that she wants a lesbian Bend it Like Beckham sequel and agreed that her and Parminder’s characters should've ended up together."

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.[27] With $32.5 million in US box office revenue,[28] Bend It Like Beckham became the highest-grossing Indian-themed film in the United States[29] since Gandhi (1982).[30] 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).[31] The film grossed $76.6 million worldwide.[28]





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"
  2. (Movie Dialogue) – "It's Beckham's Corner"
  3. Texas – "Inner Smile"
  4. Malkit Singh – "Jind Mahi"
  5. Bally Sagoo Feat Gunjan – "Noorie"
  6. (Movie Dialogue) – "Learn To Cook Dahl"
  7. Victoria Beckham – "I Wish"
  8. (Movie Dialogue) – "Juicy Juicy Mangoes"
  9. Gunjan – "Kinna Sohna"
  10. Partners in Rhyme (featuring Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan) – "Tere Bin Nahin Lagda"
  11. (Movie Dialogue) – "Can't Make Round Chapattis"
  12. Melanie C – "Independence Day"
  13. B21 – "Darshan"
  14. (Movie Dialogue) – "Eyes Down"
  15. Bina Mistry – "Hot Hot Hot"
  16. Blondie – "Atomic"
  17. Craig Pruess & Bally Sagoo Feat. Gunjan – "Hai Raba!"
  18. 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.[33]

Stage musical[edit]

A stage musical version of the film opened at London's Phoenix Theatre in June 2015.[10]

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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Kick It Like Beckham". (in German). Archived from the original on 24 December 2022. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  2. ^ a b c "Bend it Like Beckham (2002)". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 20 June 2016.
  3. ^ "Bend It Like Beckham (12)". British Board of Film Classification. 11 March 2002. Archived from the original on 29 September 2017. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  4. ^ "Bend it Like Beckham (2002) - Financial Information". Archived from the original on 2 June 2022. Retrieved 2 June 2022.
  5. ^ Bend It Like Beckham at Box Office Mojo
  6. ^ "What the cast of Bend It Like Beckham looks like now". Who. 4 September 2018. Archived from the original on 11 March 2023. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  7. ^ "Soccer: Bending the Ball". Archived from the original on 21 August 2023. Retrieved 21 August 2023.
  8. ^ "Bend". Archived from the original on 21 August 2023. Retrieved 21 August 2023.
  9. ^ "18 Winning Facts About Bend It Like Beckham". 12 March 2018. Archived from the original on 6 June 2023. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  10. ^ a b "Bend It Like Beckham the Musical". Archived from the original on 28 July 2015. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  11. ^ "Bend it like Permi "Independence makes you strong"". Swiss Life Group. Archived from the original on 28 November 2022. Retrieved 28 November 2022.
  12. ^ a b c "Bend It Like Beckham : Production Notes". Archived from the original on 14 April 2017. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  13. ^ " - Page2 - How real is "Bend It Like Beckham"?". Archived from the original on 18 January 2023. Retrieved 14 March 2023.
  14. ^ "Weekend box office 12th April 2002 – 14th April 2002". Archived from the original on 26 April 2017. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  15. ^ "Weekend box office 19th April 2002 – 21st April 2002". Archived from the original on 26 April 2017. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  16. ^ "Home Video". Billboard. Vol. 115, no. 43. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 25 October 2003. p. 55. Archived from the original on 15 February 2024. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  17. ^ "UK Film Council Statistical Yearbook: Annual Review 2003/04" (PDF). UK Film Council. p. 74. Archived (PDF) from the original on 21 January 2022. Retrieved 21 April 2022 – via British Film Institute.
  18. ^ "4. Film on UK Television in the First Half of 2005". Research and Statistics Bulletin. 3 (1). British Film Institute, UK Film Council: 20-34 (24-5). September 2005. Archived from the original on 15 January 2023. Retrieved 21 April 2022 – via Yumpu.
  19. ^ "Bend It Like Beckham". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. 12 March 2003. Archived from the original on 22 October 2010. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  20. ^ "Bend It Like Beckham Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 3 September 2020. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ "Review: Bend It Like Beckham is like curry". The Times of India. 10 July 2002. Archived from the original on 2 March 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  23. ^ Ahluwalla, Ron (27 June 2003). "Film Review: Bend It Like Beckham". Planet Bollywood review. Archived from the original on 2 May 2008. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  24. ^ "Bend It Like Beckham". The Hindu. 19 July 2002. Archived from the original on 25 August 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  25. ^ Jamie Russell Bend it Like Beckham (2002) Archived 26 December 2019 at the Wayback Machine. (11 April 2002). Retrieved on 3 November 2011.
  26. ^ SSKI's Shripal Morakhia divests 50% stake in iDream to management team Archived 29 November 2014 at the Wayback Machine. Indiantelevision. 23 April 2014.
  27. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Bend It Like Beckham (2002)". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 20 November 2018. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  28. ^ a b "Bend It Like Beckham (2003)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on 21 December 2018. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  29. ^ "Dropping Lesbian Romance from Beckham the Right Decision". Archived from the original on 15 April 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  30. ^ "Gandhi (1982)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on 21 December 2018. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
  31. ^ "Sports - Soccer Movies at the Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on 12 June 2004.
  32. ^ "ESPN: The Worldwide Leader in Sports – ESPN". Archived from the original on 23 November 2017. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  33. ^ "North Korea bends it like Beckham in UK film first". BBC. 30 December 2010. Archived from the original on 31 December 2010. Retrieved 30 December 2010.

External links[edit]