||Issue No. 147||09 August 2002|
A Call to Action
Interview: Save Our Souls
Unions: Rats With Wings
Bad Boss: If The Boot Fits
History: Political Bower Birds
International: No More Business as Usual
Corporate: The Seven Deadly Sins of Capitalism
Review: Prepare To Bend
Satire: Bush Boosts Sharemarket Confidence: Shares his Cocaine Stash
The Locker Room
Week in Review
Prepare To Bend
Gurinder Chadha's Bend It Like Beckham is a movie with the lot: soccer, soccer and more soccer. It also deals with forbidden romance, cultural collision, modernity versus tradition, and gaiety in every sense of the word.
Its lead character Jess (played by Parminder Nagra) has been raised by traditional Indian parents that are determined their children will continue to uphold the social and religious values of their ancestors, despite growing up in modern-day Britain. But it is how they measure Jess and her sister's success in this area that causes Jess the most angst.
Because Jess favours tracksuits and soccer matches over personal grooming and cooking, her parents worry that Jess will bring shame on their family and will never settle down with a "nice Indian boy". Yet the subplot following Jess' sister reveals how unreliable surface impressions can be. Because while Jess is achieving recognition for her amazing soccer prowess, it is her sister that can be found canoodling in cars with her boyfriend.
Yet even her sister's unconventional approach to finding true romance leads to personal fulfilment and, ultimately, the traditional Indian wedding of their family's dreams. These two modern girls do not always fit the narrow mold their parents expect but the love and respect they feel for their family and heritage is unfaltering.
Both are guilty of lying to their parents in order to live life on their own terms but as the movie progresses Jess realises that a life of lies will never allow her to sustain the happiness she feels on field.
It has come time for her to choose from two paths which her parents have painted as incompatible: her desire to play professional football and her parents wish for her to live a life preordained by ancient tradition.
But it is not just Jess' Indian relatives that are having difficulty dancing to the beat of a modern drum. Jess' best friend and team mate is having similar difficulties with her mother, who is convinced the girls' close friendship and apparent disinterest in boys means they must be embroiled in some sort of lesbian affair, namely a torrid one in her eyes.
It is not until she learns this is not the case that she reveals it would have been fine by her anyway. After all, her mother says that while watching a tennis game she had found herself "cheering for Martina Navratalova as loudly as the next person". She believes herself to be a truly modern mother.
Bend It Like Beckham shows that breaking with tradition does not have to mean a full rejection of family values and cultural heritage. It laughs at the masks people wear to hide their fear of the unknown and at the ignorance these same people must carefully maintain in order to reject outright anything that does not fit their version of reality.
It also shows the suffering this approach can bring onto others, while highlighting how much things change for the better as soon as the web of lies is lifted and the sunlight is finally able to permeate.
And thanks to its cheery feel-good storyline and great soccer moves Bend It Like Beckham is virtually guaranteed to get audience members out of the home or office and onto the soccer field where they belong.
Rating: four out of five stars (for services to soccer)
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