Gurinder Chadha┬┤s latest offering, Bend It Like Beckham (BILB) is a wholesome entertainer that will kick its way right into the hearts of all who watch it!
Jasminder (Parminder Nagra), or Jesse, as she likes to be called, belongs to a traditional Sikh family living in London. Her orthodox mother and father (Shaheen Khan and Anupam Kher) want Jesse to wear nice clothes, take an interest in shoes, and learn to cook aloo gobi! Jesse, on the other hand, rebels against her orthodox family and joins a local girls soccer team.
Gradually, Jesse end up falling for her coach, Joe (Johnathan Rhyms Meyers), and committs the biggest sin for an NRI girl: Falling for the white guy. She becomes best friends with Jules (Keira Knightley). Jules, like Jesse, is in love with soccer--and Joe. She also has an overbreaing mother (Juliet Stevenson) who is bent on making her daughter a "lady".
The rest of the movie is about how Jesse convinces her family that it is not evil for their daughter to play soccer and date a white guy, and the solution to the necessary love triangle.
Chadha┬┤s BILB is another feather in her cap! Yes, the foundation of the film, that of a rebellious child, is old, but it┬┤s her treatment that┬┤s novel and makes the movie interesting. Her screenplay not only explores the development of Jesse as a person, but also the changing values and culture of NRI teens: Jesse┬┤s urge to break the social norm of the Indian homemaker, her sister┬┤s (Archie Punjabi) sexually-active relationship, and the gay Indian (Ameet Chana).
Another excellent aspect of BILB is how the Indian obsession with lady-like daughters is paralleled by Westerners as well. Chadha highlights the need for social reforms in both societies.
Aside from the maturity of the film, BILB is an outstanding comedy. The scenes with Juliet Stevenson are sure to have you in splits. The scenes between Shaheen Khan and Parminder Nagra also deserve special mention.
Technically, the film is crisp, but nothing spectacular. Editing is adequate.
The performances, despite taking a back seat to Chadha┬┤s direction and story, are first rate. Parminder Nagra breathes live into her character of a girl torn between two cultures, and delivers a great performace. Keira Knightley matches her step-for-step and is a delight to watch. Anupam Kher is good in a role that doesn┬┤t demand much from a seasoned performer like him. Ameet Chana is good in a challenging role. Johnathan Rhys Meyers is passable. As for the mothers, Shaheen Khan is amazing as the dominating Punjabi mother; the audience will lap up her role. Juliet Stevenson is a comedic genius and churns out the best performance of the lot.
Bend It Like Beckham is a great movie that will win over all who watch it! It┬┤s a definite must see!