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.
“Anyone can cook aloo gobi, but who can bend the ball like Beckham?” pic.twitter.com/6lRwdCF5ic— TIFF (@TIFF_NET) December 9, 2019
Good morning to this iconic scene from BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM. pic.twitter.com/fPWqUazeFw— Amanda Hadi (@mandahadi) December 9, 2019
There's a scene in bend it like beckham where Jess is crying to her coach about racism and he says I get it I am Irish and honestly it's the most unintentionally funny thing i have seen in a while.— 👩🏾🎤 (@haryanagrandey) April 18, 2019
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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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.