Cultural identity can be defined as our sense of belonging to a particular culture or ethnic group. The movie ‘Bend it Like Beckham’ written, directed and produced by ‘Gurinder Chadha’ and the related text ‘Integrated’ by ‘Sylvia Kantaris’ talks about how culture creates a person’s identity in society. Bend it like Beckham is a British-Indian movie and has a main focus on a young Sikh-Indian girl, Jesminder.
The movie deals with a variety of themes by showing Jess to have a desperate want of playing football against the wish of her parents who want her to finish her education, learn to cook proper Indian meals and settle down by marrying a nice Indian boy. The themes of this movie go parallel with the related text by talking about a Greek Women who has migrated to Australia but is not wanting to integrate into Australian culture as she is scared of losing her Greek culture. Bend it like Beckham portrays cultural identity as a source of both comfort and conflict.Order now
This is shown by a series of language and film techniques for example camera shots, soundtracks, clothing, celebrations and language use. The engagement scene is one of the major scene showing comfort in the film. This scene shows the family being proud of their culture and religion. Their culture and religion is explored in this film through their beliefs, rituals, cuisine, dressing, respect to elders and traditional role of women. The Engagement scene starts with a close up shot of the Indian sweets depicting the happiness in their celebrations.
The soundtrack in this scene shows their sense of belonging to their culture as it is composed with musical instruments such as the Flute and the drum which are among the most famous and traditional instruments for such songs. As Jess is offering sweets to the guests one of the elderly lady says, “It will be your turn soon! Do you want a clean shaven boy like you sister or a proper Sikh with a full beard and a turban” indicating their cultural belief of their kids marrying in the same culture. The scene then goes along with a full shot of people sitting in close proximity to each other showing togetherness and equality.
All the ladies are wearing the same type of clothing and some amounts of gold symbolizing their happiness being a part of the celebration. Also the facial expressions of everyone present there indicates happiness. The Son-in-law is then given a religious bangle which is considered as an important pre-wedding ritual. Also the elders of the family then follow rituals to ward off evil from the couple meaning that rituals play a vital role to show their cultural identity. The scene then ends with a shoot of their house which is full of lights and glow and the neighbouring house being dark hence showing positivity.
The Marriage and Grand final Day scene is a source of conflict as well as comfort. The film’s title obviously refers to the skill used by David Beckham when taking free kicks. However, it could also be seen as a metaphor for the fact that Jess has to bend and adapt to traditional rules and values in order to get what she wants. This scene from the movie shows Jess’s struggle to find a balance between her desires and her family expectations thus highlighting conflict and cultural clash. As the wedding and grand final day morning approaches the scenes start alternating quickly between Pinky’s marriage and the team preparing for the match.
The close up shots of Jess’s face and the sound track being a sad tune indicates Jess’s sadness as she is not able to play the match. The scene starts with the bride coming out of the house, fully dressed and happy and the Groom coming on a mare as per their traditional customs. All other people are seen to be happy and dressed with the traditional Sari. They all go to the temple where the bride and the groom get married indicating their customs and rituals. The scene alternates showing the football members playing the match. As the family and friends reach the function hall, Mr.
Bhamra gives Jess the permission to go and play the match by saying “If this is the only way I am going to see you happy on your sister’s wedding day then go now! ” Jess leaves with her friend Tony in the car. She changes from her Sari to the football costume symbolising difference in the clothing. Jess reaches and starts playing and everyone at the function hall is dancing which then is a source of comfort. Also the soundtrack changes from a sad to a cheerful one and gets fast paced symbolising the happiness on both the sides.
The climax of this whole scene is when Jess has to go for a free kick as she falls on the ground because of a girl from the opposing team. The close up shot of Jess’s face and the ball shows tension. When Jess looks at the goal post, she sees her 5 ladies from her family standing in front of it instead of the girls from the opposing team symbolising the barriers of her life. The sound track then changes to ‘Nessun Dorma’ by Pavarotti who was a famous Oprah singer. The lyrics of this are “Vincero, vincero, vincero” which mean “I shall win. ” The full shot of Jess kicking the free kick and she making a goal shows she overcoming the boundaries.
A low angle shot with the bright sun above Jess’s head when all the team players lift Jess high and Pinky being lifted by her husband in the function hall at the same time indicate the happiness both sisters have achieved. There are other minor scenes which show cultural clash are: Jess having Beckham’s poster in her room and family room having Guru Nanak’s portrait indicating the difference in the cultures, Jess playing with boys and she wearing shorts which is evident through Mrs. Bhamra’s dialogue “I don’t want running around half naked in front of men” and Jess being called a “Paki” during a football match.
The poem ‘Integrated’ portrays cultural identity as a source of conflict by showing a Greek women who has migrated to Australia but isn’t ready to assimilate into the Australian culture and as a source of comfort when the grandchild is assimilated into the Australian culture. This is showing through the structure of the poem which is short sentences which create a feel of impact. The lady referred to in this poem is afraid of losing her Greek culture which is seen through the lines “She brought her country with her in packing cases” The use of metaphor in this line shows her belonging to her country.
The lines “rocking to the sound of a sousta, as she shouts advice to her daughter in the tongue of her youth” show her belonging to her Greek culture as she listens to Greek songs and talks in Greek language. The technique of listing is used to show her belonging to her culture in the line “her nephew, the priest who comes for coffee, the children” This line hence shows her attachment to the things and people from Greece becoming a source of comfort. It also indicates that she is not ready to leave all that behind as she is afraid of losing her culture.
But, the poetess has made use of contrast in the second half of the poem to create an impact to show comfort in the grandchild’s by making reference to Australian culture and things. The Greek women’s granddaughter is shown to have been born and exposed to Australian things, language, culture and lifestyle. This is seen through the quote “Her grandchild, playing near her, sees wattle, leafy mango tress” which indicates that the granddaughter is happy being exposed to Australian lifestyle.
A sense of belonging and conflict is seen in the last line of the poem, “ Australia is more malleable than she is”, showing that the Greek women thinks Australia can change according to her liking but she can’t change for Australia. In conclusion, the movie and the poem go parallel showing how things a persons cultural identity in society. It also tells us that people can be caught between two cultures and have to find ways to balance their desires and others expectations. Through the referred texts we also get knowledge about how situation can be a source of comfort as well as of conflict.