Bend It Like Beckham and What It Teaches Us
If you haven’t seen the film, here’s the background for you. Jess Bhamra, a Punjabi-London suburbanite is the youngest of two daughters. All she has ever wanted to do is play football but according to her parents, that doesn’t make her a good Indian daughter. Her sister, Pinky, is about to get married. Then Jess meets Jules who encourages her to join Hounslow Harriers, the local ladies’ football team. Lying to her parents, Jess not only joins the team but also falls in love with Joe, the team’s coach, who is not Indian at all. Jules is having family troubles herself and forms the third part of the love triangle.
Themes of girl power, friendship, family, the pressure of growing up and cultural clashes are interwoven beautifully. The musical makes it clear to the audience how two girls coming from such diverse cultures are united by two things; the family pressure that they are facing and their love of the game. What threatens to rip them apart is that they fall for the same guy. It portrays the fact that parents will be parents, no matter which country they originate from. There is also Pinky who wants to get married and have kids, instead of having a career. The play does a wonderful job of not passing judgment on her choice either!
Why Watch It?
• Gurinder Chadha’s direction is coupled with collaborations from West End veterans, Howard Goodall and Kuljit Bhamra. Goodall uses Punjabi tabla to spice up his music while Bhamra, the Bhangra pioneer, makes things go bang!
• Chadha describes it as “an updated, British Asian version of The Fiddler on the Roof!”
• The cast does a stellar job; Natalie Drew plays Jess and her naturalness charmingly contrasts with her deliciously lewd sister played by Preeya Kalidas. A handsome Jamie Campbell Bower plays the coach while Lauren Samuels piquantly reinvents Jules.
• Sophie-Louise Dann, who plays Jules’s mother, performs the song “There She Goes” in a heart-touching way. That moment is all about grown-up children leaving home and parents letting them.
• A dual climax that has been translated from the movie to the musical makes for fantastic viewing. On one side is Jess’ competitive football match while the other side is occupied by a colorful Indian wedding – Pinky’s. How Chadha manages to cut between the two is well worth observing – it’s a great theatre experience.
Book tickets for Bend it Like Beckham here!