Once in a while you will come across a film that deals with stereotypes, Bend it Like Beckham is exactly one of these from the perspective of a British Indian girl. The overall plot seems like a simple story of a girl being trapped in the traditional mindset which prevents her from playing her favourite sport: Football. However, does it do anything different from other films of similar genre? Read on to find out!
So we are introduced early in the film of a traditional Indian family living in London, and Jess is a teenager trying to break the mold. She loves playing football and often plays with her cousins and other guys in the park. But, her parents do not like it, especially her mother who tries all sorts of ways to stop her from playing. At the same time, an English girl, Jules, faces the same situation with her mum. Coincidentally, Jules sees Jess’s football skill in the same park and invites her to try out for a local team, coached by Joe, an Irishman.
From here on, it begins to show, surprisingly, multiple perspectives of stereotypes, racism, traditionalism and some LGBTQ issues. We have Jess and Jules who has to fight through the traditional mindset that girls should not play sports, especially male-dominated ones. Both of their mums vehemently opposes them but in different forms. You can tell Jess faces a bigger challenge as she could not fight against her mother, which contrasted with the rebellious Jules. I like how one problem flows naturally into other problems, from mindset to cultural differences between an Indian family versus English Family.
Then we have the traditionalism perspective where in India’s family, one’s action could bring shame to the whole family. Jess has been misunderstood and with some mishaps, further misunderstandings almost led to the cancellation of her sister’s wedding. Jules is also partly affected by it when she is mistaken as lesbian with Jess by her mum, which causes some embarrassing uproar. Finally, this is the rare moment where LGBTQ issue is highlighted in an Indian-theme films, when such subject is considered taboo. One of Jess’s close friends is a closet homosexual and also the whole assumed ‘lesbian’ relationship between the two girls made up some relatable scenes to those who suffer from it in their life.
The film is not paced very smoothly, with some boring parts inbetween but the added romance between Jess, Jules and Joe makes for some interesting scenes, but they are a bit unnatural and too dramatic. Music wise they are mostly filled with Indian-style soundtrack which doesn’t sound too bad, but can be slightly overused in certain scenes where silence could brought out better atmosphere.