Parminder Nagra is one of the most gorgeous creatures ever captured on screen. LINK
That may be a bit much, but she sure is likeable in Bend It Like Beckham. I can’t believe how good this movie is.
Like most people I had heard of it, but until very recently I had not seen it. I knew it was British, starred Keira Knightley (and was a springboard for her), and was about soccer. Perhaps I was turned-off by the saris, soccer, or Indian family content, I don’t remember. They’re all things unfamiliar to me–not exactly in my comfort zone–and in fact there were U.S. marketing concerns. I assumed it was like a lot of other teen sports movies with family conflict, coaches, music and dancing, new friends and romances, and a wedding. It does include these things but I had no idea it would be so much more. The backstory about the clash between Indian and British cultures, especially in such an energetic, teen, coming-of-age way, is an absolute treat. Another theme is family love and yet another is the worldwide emergence of women’s soccer.
The biggest treat in the movie is Parminder Nagra. She won widespread acclaim for her performance, including a FIFA award, and deservedly so. The whole thing just wouldn’t work without her. She is cute, gorgeous, troubled, crying, running, kicking, talking to herself (or rather, Beckham), and Indian. Even though she plays a teenager she was in her mid-twenties when the film was made and that is probably a benefit in terms of her range of emotions. She is just great. And the film catapulted her to stardom, unfortunately in Hollywood network dramas… But I suppose, in a way that had to be. One teen in a ponytail coming-of-age movie is all we get. Oh what a treat it would be be to see “Mindi” in broader American movie roles.
The other star of the film is director Gurinder Chadha. She is not your typical blockbuster movie producer. Just watching her interviews explains where the film gets its energy and upbeat feeling (although she does come off as pretty domineering and egotistic, but hey, someone has to be in charge). The story is great. So many of the supporting characters are as well–Joe the coach, all four parents, Tony the friend… She didn’t have Hollywood studio backing or a $100 million budget. It is just pretty darn impressive for a handful of people to create, from nothing, a worldwide phenomenon like Bend It Like Beckham.