Bend it like Beckham: the musical | Sunday Observer

Bend it like Beckham: the musical

18 April, 2021

Bend It Like Beckham (also known as Kick It Like Beckham) is a 2002 romantic comedy sports film produced, written and directed by Gurinder Chadha, and starring Parminder Nagra, Keira Knightley, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Anupam Kher, Juliet Stevenson, Shaznay Lewis and Archie Panjabi.

The film’s title refers to the football player David Beckham, and his skill at scoring from free kicks by curling the ball past a wall of defenders. It follows the 18-year-old daughter of a British-Indian Sikh in London. She is infatuated with football but her parents have forbidden her to play because she is a girl. She joins a local women’s team, which makes its way to the top of the league.

Bend It Like Beckham was released theatrically on April 12, 2002 by Redbus Film Distribution, and on DVD and VHS on November 18, 2002 by Warner Home Video. The film was a surprise critical and commercial success. With a gross of $76.6 million at the box office, it is the highest-grossing sports film to focus on association football. A stage musical version opened at London’s Phoenix Theatre on June 24, 2015.

Critical response

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.” Metacritic gave the movie a score of 66 based 32 reviews, indicating “generally favorable reviews”.

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.”

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.”

Planet Bollywood gave the film nine marks 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].”

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.”

Jamie Russell at the BBC gave it four out of five stars, and argued that “Mr Beckham ought to be proud to have his name on such a great film.”

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

Box office

In the United Kingdom, the film grossed over £11 million, making it one of the highest-grossing Black/Asian-themed British films. With $32.5 million in US box office revenue, Bend It Like Beckham became the highest-grossing Indian-themed film in the United States since Gandhi (1982).

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). The film grossed $76.6 million worldwide.