How does Gurinder Chadha create interest and show the conflict of cultures in the film Bend It like Beckham

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Women have come a long way since the past, and have changed quite dramatically in order to get more rights- for example: women weren’t able to vote in the past and so they fought hard and long to gain the privilege to vote. Even though women are now much better off than they were in the past, they still haven’t been able to grasp the same respect in what they choose to do as men, because some people are still shallow minded and think that men are superior to women.

Women in today’s society aren’t recognised as much as men, and are often perceived in a stereotyped image imposed on them of being naturally paternalistic and maternal, where as in fact women may find it just as hard to deal with children as men. For example: women are often the ones who are expected to look after the children as it’s seen as their ‘job’, and the ones who are expected to be married and settled before they reach a certain age, etc. This is all expected of women because they are seen as being the weaker sex.

They aren’t able to pursue the same things in life as men are, such as: not being able to go to war if they wish to do so. Men are always surrounded by all the different options available and are never really compelled to be restricted as women are, such as in sport. It’s almost as if women have a glass ceiling over their heads-they can see beyond it but it’s just too hard for them to reach their goals, the goals that supposedly only men can reach.

The fact is that in the society’s eyes women will always have a certain hope or stereotyped expectation to live up, (which men would never have to face up to) unless something is done to break the rigid image imposed in peoples’ minds of the stereotyped, and the rarely found woman in the near future. To be frank it seems absurd to think that people in this day and age are held back from what they want to do in life because of their sex, and unfortunately society hasn’t been able to let go of the image of men being the dominating sex and the ones who are ‘permitted’ to do as they choose.

Surprisingly, restriction in most areas of life is aimed at women only. This is extremely unfair as men are easily able to switch over to more feminine careers -jobs that you may think of women doing and women alone. For example: men are able to choose careers like- chefs, designers, artists, and authors, etc. In fact some of the most well known and popular designers, artists and chefs are men. Alternatively women find it a struggle to have a career in something ‘manly’ because of peoples’ perceptions, e. g. omen in sport… Women who have careers in sport, e. g. football, have much more difficulties in maintaining their career than men do, and yet again this comes down to how society views women. Men nearly always have higher profiles, more sponsorship, and get more money than women. Could this issue have anything to do with people with sexist thoughts? The film Bend It like Beckham deals with the issue of how women in sport are regarded compared to men quite well, whilst cleverly relating it to culture and society.

Gurinder Chadha, in the film Bend It like Beckham shows conflict of cultures through comedy and to raise awareness of women’s’ sport. In fact she succeeded in one of her goals more so than the others- to raise awareness of Asian culture through comedy. In actual fact she won an award for this particular achievement. Right from the start of the film Gurinder Chadha tries to interest the audience whilst using comical images and/or situations. The opening sequence catches your attention straight away due to a number of reasons.

Right from the start of the film (when the credits appear on a blank screen) there is something to grasp the audiences’ attention, as well as something to prepare them for what is to come. Gurinder Chadha achieves this by using sound/audio. You can hear a brass band playing, cheering and chanting and a commentator’s voice in a football match (you can hear the commentator mentioning things that are obviously associated with football such as “… old Trafford… ” The varied sounds that are heard from the football pitch with the credits are followed by some special effects.

You hear a ‘whoosh’ with a football moving across the screen, after which your can see the whole pitch through a very long shot. You are then able to see the match with David Beckham playing and view the players kicking the ball from different angles due to the shots: medium close ups on face and close ups on legs and feet when kicking the ball- the close ups go with the emphasised and exaggerated sounds of the of players kicking the ball. Gurinder Chadha also uses audio in the middle of the match to create interest as the commentator says: “… ere comes Jess and she’s gonna score… ” This causes the audience to become more interested/startled as this name sounds abnormal and out of place- one because it’s unfamiliar and two because the name of a woman is repeatedly being mentioned in a men’s match! You then see Jess kicking the ball alongside David Beckham, (special effects) and score. The special effects used to show this don’t look very professional as Jess’s head looks slightly out of place on her body!

This may just have been a technical fault or Gurinder Chadha may have deliberately done that to make the whole thing a lot more comical, and just make the audience point and laugh. After Jess scores a goal there is a close up shot on her face which freezes and it is then seen in the studio… After the match you see the studio and already Gurinder Chadha is using contrast because you can hear nothing in the studio (silence) compared to the football match before.

You then see Gary Linekar, John Barnes and Alan commenting on Jess’s performance in the match, which makes things even more surreal and comical. Then the commentator Gary Linekar interviews Jess’s mum. There is then a special shot where Gary Linekar talks/looks into the space in the frame (and towards Jess’s mum). All of a sudden there is a big close up on the face of Jess’s mum and she starts talking really fast and in a strong Punjabi accent, (her accent and the shot are both used to create comedy) and she also starts to show her anger towards Jess through using her own words in Punjabi.

The interview also starts to show the contrast between mother and daughter- the way they think and dress: “I don’t want her showing her bare legs to all those men, she’s bringing shame on the family! ” There is then a extreme close up on her face whilst she states her last remark in Punjabi and then you see Jess in her room watching a football match-so if you haven’t realised it already you see that all of the opening scenes were part of Jess’s day dream.

The sub-plot (Jess’s sister’s wedding) is mentioned at the beginning of the film when Jess’s mum bursts in whilst she is watching telly. There is also some juxtaposition at the beginning of the film when Jess is talking to the poster of David Beckham, and then there is some Asian music with the close up of the poster, after which the film truly begins. The contrast is that Jess is from an Asian family where her mum calls David Beckham a skinhead, etc, and yet Jess almost worships David Beckham and football.

The main plot of the film is obviously connected to football and women in sport, but the film also deals with different issues such as: friendship-Jules and Jess, sexuality- Tony (Jess’s friend) is gay, racism-someone calls Jess a Paki in a match and her dad had to give up his dream of being a cricketer because of racism, mixed relationships- if society will accept you if you get married to some one of a different race and religion to you, cultural conflict- between Western and Asian cultures, expectations- especially of a woman.

The sub-plot (Pinkie’s wedding) is not only associated with Pinkie, but it also associated with Jess and reflects different issues within the film. Her sister is stressed out because of the wedding and the preparations that go with it, and so this adds humour to the film, for example when Jess has to go along with her sister to buy the wedding dress. They go to the market and there are long shots as well as close ups of the market to show the colourful and bright shops, (even though the actual surroundings are dull) food-somosas, jalebies, chaat, and coriander for Jess’s mum etc, and the mixed culture.

The music playing whilst Pinkie and Jess are walking through the market is Bhangara (drum and base) Gurinder Chadha uses lots of juxtaposition in this section to make it funny and humorous. For example: * Gurinder Chadha shows that Jess and her sister have a rich Asian culture yet they have a western life style: Pinkie enters a shop to buy a beautiful and traditional wedding dress, and yet she is wearing tight, modern and western clothes. Gurinder Chadha also shows that youth culture is evident in all races or cultures: when Pinkie meets the girls she knows in a shop her gestures and language are completely contrasted to the way she speaks to the old Asian women who is a friend of the family down the street- in comparison to the way she talks to the girls in the shop she is very polite and respectful to the old woman.

There is also some humour added in when Jess’s sister says she wants the old lady to cover her three stomachs at the wedding before they approach her! Gurinder Chadha also shows some similarities as well as contrasts between Asian and Western cultures: the mother and daughter in the bra shop are both from a pure western culture and the girl’s (Jules’s) mum is forcing her to try on want she wants. This indicates that the two girls (Jules and Jess) have been brought up in different cultures and backgrounds and yet they both don’t want to be like their mums because they are trying to take control over their lives.

The sub-plot (Pinkie’s wedding) also reveals how Jess feels about her sister’s decision to settle down and get married like all women are ‘supposed’ to do. Jess makes it crystal clear that she’s fed up with the fuss and excitement over the wedding and seems to suggest to everyone that she can’t understand why her sister would possibly want to get married: “I can’t wait till this is all over”. The sub-plot also ties in with the stereotyped image of women getting married and settled to please their parents and society.

Gurinder Chadha is tying to show that not all arranged marriages are a disaster and that marriage is just one of the simple expectations imposed upon women in an Indian culture. Gurinder Chadha is also raising awareness of what Asian traditions are all about: food, clothes, jewellery, etc. Jess’s sister’s wedding also brings out the truth behind Jess’s femininity. She seems to come across as quite tomboyish and doesn’t seem want to bother with the ‘hassle’ of having a boyfriend-that is until she meets her football coach Joe…

Gurinder Chadha uses quite a lot of juxtaposition through out the film, and one of the most obviously contrasted scenes is when the boys and girls play football. In the boys’ football scene they have no tops on to show off their muscles and they think that it’s necessary for them to prove their ‘manliness’ to everyone. They play aggressively and the music that is selected whilst they are playing is competitive music which is associated with the coca-cola football sponsorship. Their football scene is set in the park to show that they’re only playing for a bit of fun.

The shots that are mostly used are very long shots, long shots and a few medium close-ups. These are used to show how they are playing overall and not how individuals are playing. Whilst they are playing there is no sign of any intelligent conversation what so ever-just silly jokes, and for them playing football is all about show. Alternatively in the girl’s football scene they have small tops as they are fit and healthy. They play more professionally and are not silly in the slightest, and they aren’t trying to show off.

The music selected whilst they are playing is lively and exciting. The football scene is set in a proper football pitch with a proper coach to accompany them-this shows just how much more committed and serious they are than the boys. There are lots of close ups-medium, big and extreme shots to show/focus on their skills and talents-the shots also point out how the girls play individually as well as in a team, and finally they are much more mature and friendly towards each other.

All these contrasts between the boys and girls playing football obviously had a purpose in the film. Gurinder Chadha was trying to tackle the issue of women in sport, and how women are just as talented as men are at any sport. She also shows how much more difficult it is for women to pursue a career or hobby in sport: both Jules and Jess’s mums try to persuade them to stop playing football, and do thing that are more feminine and ‘womanly’: “learn how to cook aloo gobi! ”

Towards the end of the film Joe (the coach) and Jess like each other and Jess has to deal with quite a few subjects related to sexuality: she finds out that her friend Tony is gay, that Jules mother assumes that Jess and Jules are lesbians, and that pinkie’s in-laws to be think that they see Jess kissing a boy-when it’s just Jess giving Jules a hug! Gurinder Chadha creates an image of British Indian culture that reveals that it often runs aside the British culture, that women are stereotyped in both British and Asian cultures: women are expected to be able to cook and to be settled, married and have children by a certain age, etc.

In the very final part of the film Gurinder Chadha forms one last contrast. The sister’s wedding and the final tournament take place at the same time-these two parts are the climax of the film. Gurinder Chadha also uses humour and juxtaposition in the part where Jess has to score the goal in the tournament to win and she sees (hallucinates) to her shock that her sister (in her wedding dress), and her family are standing on the football pitch!

In conclusion Gurinder Chadha uses juxtaposition, humour and real life issues to make the film entertaining, as well as being informal, so that it raises awareness of different cultures and women in sport. The film also cleverly ties in with the stereotyped images of women, and how these rigid images imposed upon women by society are often wrong. Gurinder Chadha uses a different variety of music, shots and settings to create different moods or to form an image of a certain culture or tradition, or she just simply wants to create a lasting effect and impression.

This film would appeal to a varied audience- preferably from an age of 12 and onwards. This film was a success and interested children, teenagers and adults as there is something for everyone to be entertained by. The film ends on a hopeful and joyful note as Pinkie becomes a married woman and is going to have a baby, and Jules and Jess are going abroad to play a really big tournament- as they achieved their goal of being professional women footballers. You also see David Beckham at the airport at the very end of the film – could this be extremely good luck?

The very last shot of the film is a close up on Jess and Jules’s faces. Some might thing that this is a meaningful ending because Gurinder Chadha may have been trying to point out that you can achieve anything regardless of your race, background or sex. I found that the most interesting aspect of the film for me was how Gurinder Chadha showed how alike two people from completely different cultures could be. I think that Jules and Jess’s friendship made the film come together through raising awareness of women in sport whilst adding lots of humour to the film.

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