Gurinder Chadha (Britain, 1960) debuted with
Bhaji on the Beach (1993). After the television drama
Rich Deceiver (1995), she directed the inferior
What's Cooking (2000) but then found commercial success with
Bend It Like Beckham (2002).
Jess is an Indian teenager living in England whose dream is to play football
but her conservative Indian parents would be shocked to know that she plays
"half naked". One day Jesse is humiliating some boys in the field and another
girl, Juliette, sees her and invites her to join her team. Jess does so,
hiding it from her parents, and gets to know coach Joe. Her sister Pinky is
engaged and her wedding is canceled when the parents of the groom think that
they saw Jess kissing a boy (it was actually short-haired and muscular Juliette).
Joe realizes that Jess has real talent and personally begs her parents to let
her play. Her mother is inflexible but her father, who had his own sport
failure due to racism
(who one day had secretely watched her play and been very proud of her)
is beginning to give in. Jess and Juliette become
best friends but one day Juliette catches Jess and Joe hugging and gets
furious and jealous. Jess tries in vain to explain that it was nothing (there is
actually a lot more than she wants to admit).
Jess keeps playing and the team makes it to the final,
but the final falls on the same day that her sister Pinky is getting married
(this time for real). During the wedding the male cousin (whom the parents see
as the ideal candidate to marry Jess but who has confessed to Jess that he is
homosexual) begs her father to let Jess go and play at least the second half
of the final. Then he drives her there and sure enough she scores the winning
goal ("bending" the ball like football star Beckham does).
Then she returns to the wedding all smiling. The father confesses to her mother
that he let her go. Now there is another complication: a scout from the USA
has selected Juliette and Jess for a scholarship at a main university in
California. Her parents have to accept that Jess will leave the home unmarried,
another breach with tradition. The male cousin even proposes to her in front
of her parents so that she can leave home as an engaged woman, but Jess is
tired of lying and tells the truth. Her father decides that her happiness
matters more than tradition and her mother has to consent.
At the airport Joe shows up admitting that he's in love with Jess and they kiss:
her parents will soon have to accept another breach in the Indian traditions.
Bride and Prejudice (2004) was an attempt to bridge the Hollywood musical and the Bollywood musical.
Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging (2008)
It's a Wonderful Afterlife (2010)
Viceroy's House (2017)
Blinded by the Light (2019) is another sentimental comedy a` la
Bend It Like Beckham with a less credible happy ending.
The film begins in 1980 when two boys grow up together:
the white Matt and Javed, son of Pakistani immigrants.
Seven years later Matt has a girlfriend and a nice life, while Javed
lives with his very traditional Pakistani family, bound to the strict ethical code enforced by his father. His father is
shocked to see Matt kissing a girl in the street.
The father treats Javed like child.
The father works in factory and dreams a better future for his son, but his son
only wants to be a writer and spends his spare time writing poetry.
Javed dreams of fleeing the town and the family to attend college in the big city.
His father's philosophy is to keep his head down in front of racism and work hard.
A racist schoolmate spits on Javed for being Pakistani, and Javed runs away,
looking for Matt's protection.
His father's car often doesn't start and
the whole family has to comically push to jumpstart it.
Father and son visit a Pakistani friend who announces that his son is going to be married soon but his son doesn't know it yet. While they are chatting,
children of the neighborhood pee into house through the mail slot, and the
family, used to it, simply cleans it out.
One day a schoolmate, also of Pakistani descent, turns Javed into
Bruce Springsteen's blue-collar rock music.
A schoolteacher encorages him to write poems.
Javed wants to writes for the school's paper but the editor doesn't give him
Racism is everywhere in that small town.
His father loses his job at the factory and the family has to face the financial consequences: his mother and his sisters start working.
Jay understands that he has to go and work too.
His dreams seems to be broken. During a
night storm he throws all his poems in the wind.
But later, reinvigorated by Springsteen music, he picks them up
and brings them to school to the teacher, who loves them.
Javed insists and finally gets a job at the school's paper.
And he keeps writing in his spare time, always listening to Springsteen.
One girl in school likes him Eliza, and she cares for her poetry.
Javed's father thinks that he's studying economics not writing.
The women of the house take up more work that they do at home.
One day the family's landlord reads one of Javed's poems that Javed threw away
and comes to compliment him and encourage him in front of his father,
but the family needs money and his father is still unemployed.
Javed walks around town looking for a job.
A racist trio kicks him and his Pakistani friend out of their table at a restaurant and they intone a Springsteen anthem as they walk out.
Javed now even dresses like Springsteen.
Javed dreams that he is going to study in the big city.
Matt's dad gives javed a job because he too is a fan of Springsteen, but this
causes Matt to feel humiliated.
Javed has a
date with Eliza, even that inspired by Springsteen's lyrics, and kisses her.
His teacher likes his article in the school's paper and offers to introduce him to a top newspaper.
One day Javed and his Pakistani friend Roops hijack the school's radio station to play Springsteen records.
The trio (Javed, Eliza and Roops) sing and dance all over town
until they hear of an attack on the local mosque, where his father serves for free.
Eliza invites Javed to meet his parents. She's a budding
firebrand politician but her parents are conservative and naturally racist.
Javed's parents have to sell the family jewelry to pay the bills.
Javed tells his father that a newspaper offered him an unpaid job.
His father is shocked and angry that his son doesn't obey him and pursues
a silly career as a writer.
Matt finally forgives Javed.
Javed escorts his sister Shazia to a morning dance party: she's the only one
in the family who understands Javed.
And it turns out she's secretly seeing a boy.
Javed and Roops learn that Springsteen is coming to play in England.
Javed is determined to get a ticket.
His father is crying because he can't even pay for his older daughter's wedding.
Luckily, the newspaper pays Javed for his first article, enough money to buy
the Springsteen ticket.
On his elder sister's wedding, Javed runs to buy tickets while
Shazia covers for him.
While he's away, the wedding motorcade is blocked by right-wing protesters and is father is beaten.
Javed was not there to defend his family, his father is ashamed of him and even Eliza scolds him.
The landlord comes to congratulate Javed for his article on racism, but
his father is terrified and ashamed that his son is writing about their
community's issues, still convinced that they
should keep their head down.
Angry, his father tears up the Springsteen tickets.
Javed's teacher enters him into a contest and Javed wins the prize to attend a conference in New Jersey, Springsteen's home state.
His father gets even angrier and disowns Javed.
Javed says goodbye to mother and sister and leaves with Roops.
Back in Britain, Javed continues his writing while staying at Roops' place.
One day Eliza manages to bring Javed's family to hear Javed give a speech in school, and the speech, in which Javed
identifies his father with the heroes of Springsteen's songs,
moves his father to tears. They are reconciled.
Javed moves to the big city and his father gives him a ride playing a tape of Springsteen music.
Beecham House (2019) was a historical series for television.