"Bend it Like Beckham" Generation, Gender and Peer Conflict in Multicultural Society

Essay by Ri-RiJunior High, 8th gradeB+, May 2009

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“It’s just culture,” is Jesminder ‘Jess’ Kaur Bhamra’s (Parminder Nagra) explanation of why Indian girls are not allowed to play soccer in the fascinating film Bend it Like Beckham. Like any other teenager Jess is dreaming about her future; although it is one where she is an international soccer player like her idol David Beckham, however, her traditional Sikh parents have other plans, pushing Jess into marriage, a high paying professional career and expecting her to cook full Indian dinners, both meat and vegetarian. As hinted in the title, the theme of bending is paramount and ranges from cultural divides to femininity. This conflict is only one of the many issues in relation to generation, gender and peer conflict that line the plot of this movie.

The dominant reading of this film begins with sporty Jess whipping the local Indian boys at park soccer, the closest she has ever gotten to living her dream when Jules (Keira Knightley) shows up.

Sharing a soccer passion, the two become close friends especially after Jess joins the local girl’s soccer team, coached by Joe (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers). Conflicts develop between Jess and her family especially her overbearing mother. When she is forbidden to play soccer, she contrives to sneak away with the help of Jules and sister Pinky, who is secretly fooling around with her fiancé and also desires secrecy. This does not last, however, and when Jess cannot fabricate her way to the final because of her sister’s wedding, she become resigned to her miserable fate. With a revelation of how his own dreams of playing cricket were destroyed by racism, Jess’ father grants her permission and Jess arrives at the game for the second half. Winning fabulously, Jess and Jules are offered full scholarships to a university in America with a...