Bend It Like Beckham director says 9/11 had ‘massive impact' on film's success
Director Gurinder Chadha has said Bend It Like Beckham was a “great healing moment for the world” following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in America.
The film, about a British-Indian teenage girl with a passion for football starring Parminder Nagra and Keira Knightley, is celebrating its 20th anniversary.
Chadha “first conceived” the idea for Bend It Like Beckham after former England footballer Ian Wright ran on to the pitch with a union jack, “triggering” her to write a film about the concept of Britishness.
“I had no idea the huge global impact the film would have and actually to this day it has one record that no other film has in the world – it has been officially released in every single country in the world including North Korea,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
The director, 62, said she was in Birmingham mixing the music for the film in 2001 when The World Trade Centre was attacked.
She said: “I think that had a massive impact on how the film was received globally because we came out after 9/11 and I think the world was quite shocked and beaten up by that and here comes this innocent film that is trying to make people understand what it feels like to be different.
“What it feels like to try and pursue something of your own when people around you aren’t really accepting of that, be it your own family or society.
“You’re invited into the home of a Sikh family in Britain to understand the world from their point of view and I just think it was a great healing moment for many people and the world just to be part of something so celebratory and culturally poignant and diverse at that time.”
Chadha said the film’s success also came off the back of the UK’s “Cool Britannia” era.
“There was a massive movement to redefine what British culture meant and what being British meant and so that was all happening in the 90s.
“I just thought why not put an Indian girl right in the heart of a male English world of football at that time and see what happens when the two come together,” she said.
The director added that she originally wanted to make the film because there was “so much pressure on girls to do what everyone expected them to do”.
The football film was first released in April 2002.