Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Bend It Like Beckham (2002)

Main image of Bend It Like Beckham (2002)
35mm, colour, 112 mins
DirectorGurinder Chadha
Production CompaniesKintop Pictures, Bend It Films, Road Movies Filmproduktion GmbH, Roc Media
ProducerDeepak Nayar, Gurinder Chadha
ScreenplayGurinder Chadha, Paul Mayeda Berges, Guljit Bindra
PhotographyLin Jong
Original Score byCraig Pruess

Cast: Parminder K. Nagra (Jess Bhamra); Keira Knightley (Jules Paxton); Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Joe); Anupam Kher (Mr Bhamra); Kulvinder Ghir (Teetu); Juliet Stevenson (Paula Paxton)

Show full cast and credits

Two young girls from West London pursue their goal of playing football in an all women's team, against the wishes of their parents.

Show full synopsis

Bend it Like Beckham (2002) was Gurinder Chadha's second UK feature film, coming eight years after her surprise hit, Bhaji on the Beach (1994). A second feature, What's Cooking (2001) was produced in America.

The film reached an impressively large crossover UK audience, grossing over £11 million in the UK alone. This made it one of the highest grossing Black British movies to date.

The 1998 World Cup inspired Chadha to think about the national attention paid to the games and the popularity of England's David Beckham. This led her to think about placing two girls in the middle of a similar scenario. With a desire to make a film that would speak to people from all walks of life, she combined the national passion for football with the everyday, suburban family lives of two young girls living in the culturally mixed outskirts of West London.

Using Beckham, with his reputation for "bending the ball", as the girls' role model, Chadha herself says that the title of the film works as an "excellent metaphor for the film as the girls 'bend' the rules rather than 'break' them." At the eleventh hour, after viewing the film, David and Victoria Beckham were so impressed that David agreed to play a cameo role in the final sequences of the film and Victoria added one of her songs to the soundtrack.

The film received mixed reviews, with some commentators arguing that it steered too close to a formula familiar from recent British box office successes like Billy Elliot (d. Stephen Daldry, 2000) and The Full Monty (US/UK, d. Peter Cattaneo, 1997). Nevertheless, the warmth of the film's ensemble cast and its general feel-good factor won it popularity with audiences nationwide.

As in Chadha's previous films, which also used a large ensemble cast, the film paints a picture of cosmopolitan England today. The spotlight is on suburban family life as lived in Hounslow; neither of the elder or younger characters are seen as better or worse, and their attitudes merely reflect of their different upbringings. Using comedy and a conventional narrative structure, Chadha raises a range of issues from homosexuality and gender identity to multiculturalism and issues of national identity.

Tejinder Jouhal

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
Ae Fond Kiss (2004)
Bhatti, Ace (1970-)
Chadha, Gurinder (1960-)
Ghir, Kulvinder
Rhys Meyers, Jonathan (1977-)
Segal, Zohra (1912- )
Stevenson, Juliet (1956-)
Asian-British Cinema
Female Protagonists