Bend It Like Beckham (2002) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • The daughter of orthodox Sikh rebels against her parents' traditionalism and joins a football team.

  • A comedy about bending the rules to reach your goal, Bend It Like Beckham explores the world of women's football, from kick-abouts in the park to freekicks in the Final. Set in Hounslow, West London and Hamburg, the film follows two 18 year olds with their hearts set on a future in professional soccer. Heart-stopping talent doesn't seem to be enough when your parents want you to hang up your football boots, find a nice boyfriend and learn to cook the perfect chapatti.

  • Teen-aged Londoner Jesminder Bhamra - Jess for short - is fanatical about football. She even uses a poster of her idol, footballer David Beckham, as her confidante. Although she only plays in pick-up games in the park with her male friends, she is naturally gifted at it. She's spotted by Juliette Paxton - Jules for short - who plays in a local women's league, and who talks Jess into coming to try out for her team. Jules has aspirations of playing in the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA) professional league in the United States. Playing organized sports goes against Jess' traditional Punjabi parents' wants for her - especially her mother's - which are to go to law school and to learn how to cook Punjabi food so that she can attract a nice Punjabi husband. But Jess is determined to play on Jules' team regardless of her parents. Jess sees Jules as having the perfect situation, not realizing that Jules also has a mother who doesn't want her daughter to focus so much attention on football, but for slightly different reasons. The team's compassionate and sympathetic coach Joe tries to help Jess overcome any of these obstacles in whatever way he can. Jess has to try and reconcile these two aspects of her life, especially in the lead up to the final game at which an American scout will be in attendance who may be able to get both Jules and Jess one step closer to playing in the WUSA league if he likes what he sees. The game also unfortunately coincides with the rescheduled wedding of Jess' sister.

  • Of East Indian origin of the Sikh faith, the Bhamra family have been settled in Great Britain for several years. They have two daughters, Pinky and Jessminder. While Pinky is in the process of getting married, Jessminder is preparing to play football - which is not acceptable to her parents. But Jessminder knows she is good at the sport, and she does receive considerable encouragement. Her parents are clearly uncomfortable with their daughter running around in shorts, chasing a big ball, instead of being clad in a traditional salwar khameez, and learning to cook East Indian recipes. Jessminder must now decide what's important for her. To make matters worse, a football tournament is arranged on the very day of her sister's marriage. Will Jessminder be able to play, or will her dreams be shattered?

  • Jess Bhamra is a teenager with only one real passion in her life: football. She daydreams of being a great soccer star and her hero is David Beckham. She soon strikes up a friendship with Juliette Paxton, Jules to her friends, and joins a girls team coached by the rather handsome Joe. She comes from a traditional, close-knit and loving Sikh family. Her parents only want the best for both of their daughters but Jess' fascination with sports doesn't fit into their idea of a young woman future. Jess isn't comfortable sneaking about and she and Jules fall out when they both take an amorous interest in Joe. With her sister's wedding on the same day as the football final, where a US College scout will be present to assess her performance, Jess must decide if she will support her family or her friends.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Jesminder "Jess" Bhamra (Parminder Nagra) is the 18-year-old daughter of Punjabi Sikhs living in London. Juliette "Jules" Paxton (Keira Knightley) is the same age and the daughter of a native English family. Jess is infatuated with football, but because she's a woman, her family won't let her play. However, she sometimes plays in the park with boys including her best friend, Tony (Ameet Chana), a closet homosexual.

    Whilst on a jog through the park, Jules discovers Jess' skills, befriends her, and invites her to try out for the local women's football team, the Hounslow Harriers coached by Joe (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). Jess is extremely happy and excited about the tryouts, even though Joe is skeptical about a new player joining the team. After seeing Jess' skills, Joe accepts her on the team and Jess lies to Joe about her parents being cool with the idea.

    Jess develops an attraction toward Joe, and when the team plays in Hamburg and goes out clubbing, they're caught about to kiss by Jules, who also has a crush on Joe, souring Jess and Jules' friendship, as Jules is adamant she'd told Jess about her crush. When Jess goes to Jules' house to try to patch up their friendship, Jules' mother (Juliet Stevenson) is misled and thinks they're hiding a lesbian relationship.

    Meanwhile, having discovered that Jess has been playing football behind their backs, Jess' parents (Anupam Kher) and (Shaheen Khan) become more strict and forbid Jess from playing any more matches. The elder Bhamras are also distracted by their elaborate wedding plans for Jess' older sister, Pinky (Archie Panjabi).

    Thanks to Jess and Jules' skills, the Harriers reach the finals of the league tournament. Unfortunately, the final and Pinky's wedding are on the same day. Joe pleads with Mr. Bhamra to allow Jess to play, but Mr. Bhamra refuses, revealing that he doesn't want Jess to suffer the same way he did when he was kicked out of the cricket club because of his being an Indian.

    Joe accepts that Jess isn't allowed to play, and the final begins without her. But halfway through Pinky's wedding, Tony convinces Mr. Bhamra to let Jess go. He agrees, and Tony drives Jess to the game, where the Harriers are losing 1-0 with half an hour left.

    Jess and Jules tie the score, and when Jess is awarded a free kick, she must bend the ball around the wall of players to score. She succeeds and the Harriers win the tournament. Jess and Jules are offered scholarships at Santa Clara University in California, which Jules tells her parents immediately, whereas Jess has trouble telling hers.

    Jules and her mother arrive at the wedding so that Jules can celebrate with Jess. When Mrs. Paxton accuses Jess of being a hypocrite and a lesbian, Jules grabs her mother and runs off in shame.

    Jess still hasn't told her parents about the scholarship. Tony decides to lie to the family and tells them he's engaged to Jess as long as she gets to go to any college she wants. Jess reveals the lie and her mother blames Jess's father for allowing her to play and refuses Tony's proposal. Jess's father convinces her mother to accept Tony after telling her he doesn't want Jess suffering like he did.

    Jess flees to the football field to tell Joe of her parent's decision. The two almost kiss, but Jess pulls away, saying her parents would object, and that although they had come far enough to let her go to America to play, she doesn't think they would be able to handle another cultural rebellion from her.

    On the day of Jess' and Jules' flight, Jules' mother gives her daughter a football jersey and wishes her good luck. The two are about to board the plane when Joe arrives and confesses his love for Jess. The two kiss and Jess agrees to sort out their relationship (and her parents) when she returns for Christmas.

    Jess and Jules send their parents a team photograph, and it is revealed that Pinky is pregnant. Mr. Bhamra practices cricket with Joe's help.

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