21 Bend It Like Beckham (2002) Movie Facts You Haven't Read Before
Anyone can cook Aloo Gobi, but who can bend a ball like Beckham? Jesminder Bhamra could back in 2002 in Gurinder Chadha’s sporty romantic comedy, Bend It Like Beckham. Parminder Nagra starred as the ambitious 18 year old Jess who wanted to respect her traditional Sikh family’s wishes while pursuing her dream of becoming a footballer. Our Bend It Like Beckham movie facts include why David Beckham was chosen as Jess' role model, the rumoured romantic plot that never was, and why the filming schedule had to be moved for Keira Knightley.
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Anyone can cook Aloo Gobi, but who can bend a ball like Beckham? Jesminder Bhamra could back in 2002 in Gurinder Chadha’s sporty romantic comedy, Bend It Like Beckham. Parminder Nagra starred as the ambitious 18 year old Jess who wanted to respect her traditional Sikh family’s wishes while pursuing her dream of becoming a footballer. With encouragement from her best friend Jules (Keira Knightley) and her coach Joe (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), Jess manages to break down stereotypes about Women in Football and heads off to America to play professionally with her family’s blessing. Our Bend It Like Beckham movie facts include why David Beckham was chosen as Jess' role model, the rumoured romantic plot that never was, and why the filming schedule had to be moved for Keira Knightley.
1. Beckham Was Specifically Chosen To Be Jess’ Role Model
At the time of filming Bend It Like Beckham, David Beckham was one of the top players in the World and it was consistent with real life that a young football fan would adore him. Secondly, Chadha chose Beckham as he challenged the preconceptions of what the public imagined a footballer could be in the noughties. This is something that Jess also hoped to do in the future being both a woman and a Sikh.
Chadha has said regarding Beckham in an interview, “In many ways, Beckham is the perfect catch for an Indian mother… He loves his wife, he has a son, he is also a good Father and he's changed the meaning of what we used to consider the traditional macho footballer.”
Jess wears a number 7 when she plays for the Hounslow Harriers, which is the same number David Beckham wore for England and Manchester United during his career.
2. What does Bend It Like Beckham actually mean?
The famous England and Manchester United star David Beckham was well known for scoring from free kicks by “bending” or “curling” the ball around a wall of defenders.
3. USA Distributors Wanted To Change The Film’s Title
Although footballer David Beckham and the term "bend" were well known in the UK, they weren’t commonly known in the USA. So, 20th Century Fox executives suggested changing the name to "Move it like Mia" referencing Soccer player Mia Hamm. Director Gurinder Chadha objected and the film was released with its original title. Jules incidentally wears number 9 on her shirt to play for the Hounslow Harriers, the same number as Mia Hamm.
4. There Is A Musical Version Of Bend It Like Beckham
Bend It Like Beckham was released in cinemas in April 2002 and on DVD in the November. It was a surprise critical and commercial success grossing $76.6 Million at the Box Office. It is still the highest grossing sports film to focus on association football. A stage musical of Bend It Like Beckham opened at the Phoenix Theatre in London in June 2015.
5. Bend It Like Beckham Was Filmed In Surrey and Hamburg
While the film is set in Hounslow in West London, filming for Bend It Like Beckham began in June 2001 on location across London and at Shepperton Studios in Surrey. The crew were at Shepperton for nine weeks before heading over to Germany to shoot the semi-final scenes over a three day period in Hamburg.
6. The Footballers Featured Actually Played For The FA
During casting for Bend It Like Beckham, Gurinder Chadha wanted to include actual female football players to make the teams look credible. She worked alongside the Football Association (FA) in the UK to cast actual players from a variety of school teams to play in the Hounslow Harriers. She wanted to have athletic, confident women with soccer skills. In an interview with cinema (dot) com Chadha said, "I looked at just about every sports movie I could find with my Director of Photography, Jong Lin, and talked through how we wanted the camera to move and capture the action.” Unfortunately the Hounslow Harriers are an entirely fictional team.
7. Parminder Nagra Was Always Going To Be Jess
Chadha played an active role when casting actors for Bend It Like Beckham and wanted to showcase actors that she had admired for a long time. Many of whom were British Asian actors that she felt had been overlooked and not given enough opportunities to show off their talents in mainstream media. Chadha was aware that the role of Jess would carry the weight of the film. She had seen Parminder Nagra in a play named 'Oh Sweet Sita' at the Oval Theatre in 1997 and had her in mind when writing Bend It Like Beckham. Nagra was approached in 1998 and was asked if she had ever played football.
"She lied to me and said she had," says Gurinder Chadha to cinema (dot) com. "Still even if I'd known that she'd never played football before, I always knew she was the only actress for the role. She has an innocence on screen that is completely arresting and she worked harder on preparing for the role than any actor I'd ever worked with. "
8. Parminder Nagra Was Named International Football Personality of The Year
Beating famous players Luis Figo and Ronaldo, Parminder Nagra won the 2002 Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)'s International Football Personality of the Year Presidential award, and she was the first female to ever receive the honor despite being an actor! Many Female English Football Players have since said Bend It Like Beckham helped inspire them in their careers.
9. Keira Knightley Had Just Turned 16 Before Filming
When Gurinder Chadha was looking for her Jules, she saw Keira Knightley audition and instantly thought she was perfect. She displayed a confidence and drive for the character. Chadha was surprised that Knightley had just turned 16 and the whole filming schedule for Bend It Like Beckham had to fit around her GCSE exams! Although their characters are roughly the same age, there is a ten year age gap between Parminder Nagra (1975) and Keira Knightley (1985).
10. Jess and Jules Both Had To Believably Fancy Joe
For Joe the coach, Gurinder Chadha had admired Jonathan Rhys Meyers and wanted to cast him as a ‘boy next door’ using his own Irish accent. In an interview with cinema (dot) com Chadha said, "Jonathan is very charming, beautiful looking and has an electric screen presence. I completely believed that both Jess and Jules could fall head over heels for him."
11. Mr Bhamra Is A Very Famous Bollywood Star
Mr Bhamra is played by Bollywood star Anupam Kher and Bend It Like Beckham was his first British Film. Gurinder Chadha wanted to cast somebody who would be able to gain the audience’s sympathies and be able to portray the fact that Mr Bhamra had grown up in a different culture. Kher has a career that spans almost twenty years in Bollywood, with nearly one hundred fifty feature films under his belt. Anupam Kher played Parminder Nagra's Father in Bend It Like Beckham 2002 and then went on to play her father again in E.R in 2004.
12. Gurinder Chadha’s Own Relatives We’re At Pinky’s Wedding
To get the extras at the wedding party just right, the Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha invited many of her own family members to star in the scene including her Mother and Aunts stating that they all looked authentic. She did say to cinema (dot) com that directing them was a nightmare!
13. Local Hounslow Residents Also Attended Pinky’s Wedding
Gurinder Chadha also sent out invitations to the Hounslow Sikh community asking whether they would like to star in the wedding scenes, hoping that they would get enough people interested. On the morning of the wedding scene, they had so many interested people they had to turn some away. All of the extras wore their own clothes and the only scripted moments were the scenes with the actors.
14. Bend It Like Beckham Was Shaznay Lewis’s First Film
Shaznay Lewis who plays Mel, the Hounslow Harrier’s Team Captain, was cast after the other actors and had extra football training schedules to make up for lost time.
15. Each Football Scene Was Choreographed Ahead Of Filming
Gurinder Chadha brought on board Simon Clifford to coach the actors using his Futebol de Salao training techniques to make sure that the sports scenes were of credible quality. He worked tirelessly in the weeks before filming to choreograph the football scenes.
16. Bend It Like Beckham Is Partially Autobiographical
The film is set in Southall and West London where Gurinder Chadha grew up and is principally about the girls and their families rather than football. She claims that in 2002, Bend It Like Beckham was the most autobiographical film she had made to date, especially in terms of the relationship between Jess and her Father.
17. Parminder Nagra Does Have A Scar On her Leg
According to IMDb, actor Parminder Nagra was concerned that the scar on her leg would prevent her from getting the role of Jess, however the Bend It Like Beckham director, Gurinder Chada worked it into the script and overall it helped develop Jesminder’s character.
18. Bend It Like Beckham Was The First Western Film Shown In North Korea
Interestingly, Bend It Like Beckham was the first Western Film allowed to be shown on North Korean Television. The broadcast was monitored in Seoul on Boxing Day and was edited down to an hour long instead of the original 112 minutes. The British ambassador to South Korea, Martin Uden, said it was the "first ever western-made film to air on TV" in North Korea and that the British embassy had arranged it.
During the film, a message was broadcast saying it was being shown to mark the 10th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Great Britain and North Korea.
19. Spice Girl Mel C Wrote A New Song Specifically For Bend It Like Beckham
Melanie C wanted her song "Independence Day" to be used in the film, but the lyrics did not work so she rewrote them in order for the song to be used.
20. The WUSA Was Suspended After The Film
Much of Bend It Like Beckham’s plot centers around the lead characters' goal of being part of the United States Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA). Even highlights are shown of several of the league's biggest players. On 18th September 2003, just seven weeks after the official release in the USA, the WUSA suspended operations due to financial problems.
21. Jules and Jess Were Never Meant To Be Together
One of the rumors around Bend It Like Beckham says by the end of the film, Jess and Jules were supposed to become a couple. However, this was never written in any iteration of the script.
21 Bend It Like Beckham (2002) Movie Facts You Haven't Read Before