If you’re not used to seeing people who look like you onscreen, the times you do are unforgettable. When the film “Bend It Like Beckham” scored big in theatres in 2002, the classic teen comedy was a game-changer for young South Asians who saw themselves in Jess Bhamra and her Punjabi Sikh family.
With a musical adaptation getting its North American premiere in Toronto, five South-Asian Canadians looked back on how they related to the teenage soccer player who was torn between the sport she loved and the family she wanted to please.
Krystal Kiran is the musical’s assistant choreographer, dance captain, and a performer in the Toronto adaptation. She remembers having “a visceral reaction” to the movie.
“I think it was the first time I ever saw Punjabi Sikh women represented in film,” she told HuffPost Canada.
The flick impressed many for being as affirming as it was entertaining: the reality of cultural expectations? Check. A nuanced female lead of a sports movie? Absolutely. Some truly laugh-out-loud moments? Yep, and they’re still just as funny now.
And just as timeless are the personal revelations South Asian viewers realized, thanks to “Bend It Like Beckham.”
“I don’t have to be Indian or western. They both work together, they’re both part of my identity,” actor Noor Dhanda said.
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