Thursday, August 15


15th August 2002 - London (LHR) to Karachi (KHI)
25th August 2002 - Karachi (KHI) to London (LHR)

Saturday, April 13

Film: Bend It Like Beckham Click for more info

First things first. Girls who play football are hot. There are no two ways about it. Don’t get me wrong - it isn’t hot in a "shorts and tee shirt" kinda way, it’s just that there is something about a girl who can kick a ball around.

Anyways, now that I got that out of the way I can get to the film. For those who don’t already know, Bend It Like Beckham is a film about Jess (Parminder Nagra), a young Asian girl about to take her A-Levels, who happens to be a fanatic about football. Due to prejudices and pressure from her parents to conform, this interest is on the whole restricted to a kick around in the park. This all changes, however, when Jules (Keira Knightly) spots her skill and convinces jess to sign up for the local girls’ team, The Hounslow Harriets. What ensues is a story largely about how Jess handles her parents inevitable objections (mainly by keeping them in the dark), with a good old fashioned love triangle thrown in for good measure.

Technically, the film has a "rough edges" feel to its editing and dubbing. This isn’t strange for a British film, especially the ones in this genre. This is no bad thing, in fact the film might have suffered if it received too much polish (how glamorous can you make Hounslow?), and in any case it had both the script and cast to make you see past this.

And what a script it is. Apart from being tremendously funny (are there any British Asian films that are not?) it really does mange to draw you into Hounslow and the Bhamra family, without using the usual emotional trickery that other films may use or getting you to relate to the subject matter (unless of course you happen to be a 18 year old girl playing semi-pro). On top of that, Asian viewers don’t get the patronising feeling that they may have felt when watching East Is East, while both the subject matter and the funnies are accessible by non-Asians too. Of course, the former will enjoy the film on a slightly different level to the latter, but on the whole the film is appreciated by all.

In terms of the topics covered, the film manages to tackle a wide variety of issues including sexism, racism, mixed relationships, arranged marriages, and even homophobia, but wisely avoids getting bogged down in the "solution" of any of them. Although this may seem a cheap and easy way out, it did stop the viewer from becoming overwhelmed by what the film way trying to tell us about the rigidness of Asian culture and indeed ourselves. Thus it came as a reflection of British Asian life, rather than a criticism or a lecture of how we should all live it, something that I feel has not been portrayed before.

The main cast did a great job. Parminder Nagra played the role of Jess perfectly, being a strong independent girl, whilst realising the importance of respecting her parents and culture, and eventually managing to find the balance that most young Asians strive for. Kiera Knightly uses her "wooden, but I’m pretty so it doesn’t matter" style of acting that she has used before. Of course it goes without saying that both girls, as well as the rest of the girls’ football team had a skill with the ball that put even me to shame (ahem). This is important as it adds to the overall realism of the film. Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Joe, the coach) portrays the love interest well, managing to be a hero while also respecting and accepting the problems Jess faces off the pitch. The fantastic lead roles do not stop the supporting cast from shining either, with Juliet Stevenson playing a fantastic Jules's mother. Oh, and make sure you keep your eye on Tony at the airport towards the end of the film.

The film is made complete with its soundtrack, avoiding taking the easy route and flooding it with popular Banghra. Instead, it uses tracks from Mel C and the like, reminding the viewer that this is a film set in Britain about a British Asian.

It seems that a lot of lessons have been learned from the past implementations of the whole British Asian genre, resulting in a new evolution that is so satisfying and rewarding you can’t help but praise it. It is both engrossing and believable, despite its story (which, lets face it, is less likely to occur than those of EIE and BOTB). There really isn’t much more to say than that, except that it’s much recommended, and you should all go watch it. Now.


Right. I'm off to find myself a girl who can play football....

Originally posted as shak (2332nd post) on the ALMBs.

Friday, February 15

Saudi for Hajj

15th February 2002 - London (LHR) to Riyadh (RUH)
3rd March 2002 - Riyadh (RUH) to London (LHR) (can't have been more than two weeks)