Bend It like Beckham Essay

    Jesminder “Jess” Kaur Bhamra and Toula Portokalos are the heroines of “Bend It like Beckham” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, respectively - Bend It like Beckham Essay introduction. Jess lives in England with her traditional Indian family, who expect her to marry and have children, all while not showing her legs in public. She dreams of becoming a football (or what we refer to in the United States as “soccer”) star in spite of the fact that playing sports does not fit into her parents’ plans for her. Toula also comes from a close-knit family, though they are Greek and numerous. At the age of thirty, she still works in her family’s diner, lives at home, and does what she’s told – at least until she meets Ian Miller, who is not at all Greek but falls for Toula instantly. Both sets of parents rebel, and then ultimately accept their daughter’s choices.

    Jess’s father, Mr. Bhamra, is too busy arranging for the marriage of his other daughter, Pinky, to take Jess’s passion for football seriously. He thinks that it is a passing fancy and will end when Jess, too, marries and has children. As far as he knows, Jess isn’t playing football with a team; she just picks up games here and there in the park. Jess has other plans, however. The first time he catches his daughter in a lie is when she is sent out to buy shoes for her sister’s wedding and instead returns with a pair of football cleats. He is furious that she would betray her family this way and even more worried about what his future in-laws will think. Indian culture does not allow for a marriage with a troubled family, and he worries that Jess’s actions will put a halt to Pinky’s engagement. He adamantly forbids his daughter to play football, in spite of the fact that she has joined a team and shows great promise.

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    Mr. Bhamra is not a mean father who wants to keep his daughter down. He, too, had dreams of athletic greatness. Upon arriving in England, Mr. Bhamra attempted to gain access to the local cricket club, but was turned away due to his Indian heritage. He never could get past the rejection, and fears the same rebuff for his youngest daughter. Complicating matters is the earnestness of Jess’s coach, Joe, a young Irishman who is impressed by Jess’s talent and believes that she has a bright future in football. Mr. Bhamra is torn between allowing his daughter to live out her dreams and keeping her bound to Indian tradition. It is only her dour demeanor at her sister’s wedding that finally convinces her father to allow her to leave the wedding reception and play the last half of the championship game.

    Mr. Bhamra comes to terms with his own rejection and the fact that life in England has changed since he first arrived. He is no longer a pariah on the cricket circuit, as demonstrated by the end of the movie where he plays the game with Jess’s coach and now her long-distance love, Joe. Jess has gone to America to attend college with her father’s blessing. It is not easy to change one’s traditional views, but Mr. Bhamra sees himself in his daughter and can no longer deny her athletic prowess.

    “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” puts Toula’s traditional parents in the same boat as Mr. and Mrs. Bhamra. Gus Portokalos loves his family and especially loves his daughter, but he is starting to worry that she may be getting too old to marry a Greek man and have many Greek children. She has been a good daughter so far, attending Greek classes as a child, working at the family business, and living at home. He is proud of her and sees no reason for her to change. Change does come, however, when Toula begins taking classes and improving her appearance. She becomes less introverted and much more social. Gus has no idea that the man behind this change is not him but Toula’s boyfriend, Ian.

    Gus fully expected his daughter to marry a Greek man in a Greek Orthodox church and raise Greek children. He and his wife, Maria, are shocked when Toula arrives home with Ian Miller who is not Greek and who wants to marry Toula. In spite of his traditional beliefs, Gus supports Toula’s choice of a husband but doesn’t understand Ian’s culture or values. He is shocked to find out that Gus has very few relatives; Toula has twenty-seven first cousins! Ian’s parents are nice, but not nearly as demonstrative in their affections as the large Portokalos family. He even has trouble pronouncing his future son-in-law’s name, uttering “Eee-yan” as if it were the most complicated word in the English language. For Gus, it certainly is. He is used to long, melodious-sounding names.

    Gus isn’t nearly as traditional as Mr. Bhamra, however. From the time he meets Ian and his parents, he is struggling to find things that they have in common so that he can be a welcoming host. He and his family welcome the Millers to their parties and religious celebrations, even though they have to struggle to find things to talk about. The wedding planning is easy: Toula gives her parents carte-blanche to plan the wedding themselves, down to the gigantic white wedding dress and garish bridesmaids’ dresses. Gus wants nothing more than his daughter’s happiness, but he doesn’t want to lose her to a new world of people who aren’t Greek and who don’t understand their customs. At the wedding reception, Gus gives his daughter and son-in-law a deed to their new home – which is right next door to theirs.

    Mr. Bhamra and Gus Portokalos are two fathers from different backgrounds who have much in common. They both love their daughters and hope that they will follow in their traditional values, but they come to accept that there is more to life than what they had planned.

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