“Bend It Like Beckham” tells the story of Jess (Parminder K. Nagra), a Sikh girl with amazing soccer talents. Her hero is Manchester United superstar David Beckham (the title refers to his technique for curving penalty kicks around a wall of defenders). When a fellow female soccer fanatic (Keira Knightley) discovers Jess playing a pickup game, she’s invited out to play for a girl’s school team. This doesn’t fit well with her traditional parents, who want her to pursue a law degree, get married and learn how to cook a “full Indian dinner”. Jess, however, has dreams of playing professionally in the U.S.. Sound familiar?
“Bend It Like Beckham” interweaves the underdog theme of Billy Elliot with Indian coming-of-age films like “East is East” and Monsoon Wedding, adding a healthy dose of MTV flavour in the appropriate spots. Pivotal moments of the film are augmented by Bally Sagoo’s irresistible Asia-meets-West dance hybrids. But while this film offers plenty of laughs and a cool soundtrack, it also tiptoes around complex subjects of social change and inter-racial relations. “East is East” touches upon the same themes in a far more ambitious manner. “Bend It Like Beckham” is nonetheless well-structured and full of humourous moments. It’s not surprising that the film is the U.K.’s latest cinematic cause celebre.