his sporting 7 life »
Gurindah Chapha on her film about women’s football and bending the rules
Words: Tom Dawson
f there is any justice. then Bend It Like Berk/rum
deserves to be a hit on the scale of The Full Monty
or Billy Elliot. A multicultural comedy with heart and substance. it follows the efforts of an Asian Hounslow teenager (played by newcomer Parminder Nagra) to pursue her footballing dreams. despite the opposition of her traditionalist parents.
'lt‘s not really a football film.‘ explains writer- director Gurinder (‘hadha (Blutji ()n The Bt’tlt‘ll. What's Cooking .7). 'l‘m not a football fan. but I was interested in David Beckham because his obvious skill in bending the ball was a perfect metaphor for a film about bending the rules. And as a man he‘s done so much to feminise football. He was the perfect role model for Jess. our lead character. He‘s actually the perfect Indian husband — he's devoted to his wife. his son. his fatnily and his iii-laws. Somebody like (iazza wouldn‘t have worked for Jessk
The film‘s screenplay. co- written by Chadha with her husband Paul Mayeda Berges and Guljit Bindra. was partly inspired by the way football fever swept Britain during recent major international tournaments. ‘After the games in the last World (‘up in France people would spill out of the pubs onto the streets of Camdenf she recalls. ‘It was public euphoria when they won. and national calamity when they lost. I hadn't seen anything like this since Lady Diana's funeral. I thought wouldn't it be great to take this national fervour and put an Indian girl and an Indian family at the heart of that world.‘
Other characters were introduced. such as Jules (played by Keira Knightley). .less‘ team—mate who aspires to play professionally in America. Jules‘ brassy mother Paula (Juliet Stevenson) and .less‘ soon-to-be-married sister l’itiky. "l‘lie film became
28 THE LIST I l» 95> Apr P’X)?
‘It’s the perfect metaphor for a film about bending the
Deserves to be a hit on the scale of Billy Elliot
about femininityf says (‘liadha. 'lt became a comedy which was making a point about being a young girl and all the pressures on you to be feminine. and how being feminine is so different to what it was when l was that age. (iirls are so much more aggressive about who they are and what they want.’
Moreover. in celebrating young women playing
football. ('hadha was able to challenge stereotypes of
how teenage girls are so often portrayed on screen. ‘I wanted to show it was okay to have muscles or big legs. They don‘t have lots of make-up on. they‘re sweaty. but they look like they're having fun and that they are healthy. I wanted to show girls that you don't have to be a size eight to have fun.‘
The daughter of first-generation immigrant parents. (‘hadlia herself grew tip in llounslow in the (i()s and 70s. and she believes that in certain ways
Bend It Like Beek/tum is the most autobiographical of her three films. Like Jess. she incurred the wrath of
her mother by refusing to cook chapati. whilst the relationship between Jess and her father is. she says. 'based on the relationship between me and my own Dad. I think I personified his own dreains.‘ she continues. ‘of what he might have wanted to be. He was bright and articulate. but he never had any fortnal education and with two young children to support he had to take on any job. He allowed his daughters independence though — he encouraged us to stand on our own two feet and to go to university. so we were never dependent on men economically.’
How. I ask (‘hadha. has it felt revisiting aspects of her past in making Bend It Like Bt’t'lx‘llrlm. ‘lt's been wonderful.’ she replies. 'lt‘s an affirmation of your life and your upbringing and it feels healthy and cathartic. It feels great to be earning a living by entertaining people and making them feel good about themselves.‘
l.ive affirming. earning dosh. entertaining folks -— that'd be a hat trick for (‘liadlia. then.
Bend It Like Beckham opens Fri 12 Apr. See review, page 30. See reader offer page 37.
Lights, camera, action . . .
ALI'ERNATIVE MUSIC FESTIVAL- trip'l'ych moves out of the concert halls and into the cinemas with three events taking place at the Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh Filmhouse. Don Letts. he of Big Audio Dynamite fame. presents his portrait of contemporary Jamaican culture Dancehall Queen on Friday 26 April (Saturday 27 at Filmhouse‘). Philip Glass introduces Koyaan/sqatsr‘ and talks aboot his score for the film on Saturday 27 April (Sunday 28 at Filmhouse). Finally, on Sunday 28 April and only at the (EFT unfortunately. Ninja Tunes nu jazz collective The Cinematic Orchestra perform their new score to the 1920s Russian classic Man l/i/rth A Movre Camera .
THE FIRST TWO OF 101 South Asian films to be screened throughout the UK as part of the seven month long ImagineAsia season arrive in Scotland this month. On Thursday 25 April the GFT previews the UK/lndia co-production The Warrior, a parable about a warrior’s epic journey of self discovery. On the same day the Filmhouse screens The Wrestlers, a new Indian drama about two sporting pals in rural Bengal whose friendship is put to the test through a variety of domestic and social pressures.
IF YOU HAVEN’T HAD ENOUGH sound with your vision. take a look and listen at Teenage Kicks - T he Undertones. a documentary about the Northern Ireland punk band which combines footage of John Peel's visa to the band's hometown Derry with archive material of the band and the place. The film's producer Vinny Cunningham and Undertone [)aniian O'Neill \.‘.’Ill introduce the film.