Indian Culture Essay Example

Around the world, cultural norms have shown to act as barriers in people's lives. In the film, Bend it like Beckham, Jesminder faces difficulty trying to blend her conservative Indian culture with the highly open and individualistic British culture she is exposed to in her daily life. Jess struggles with fulfilling her parents’ wish for her to quit playing soccer and repressing her feelings for Joe, which illuminates that cultural expectations can limit one’s freedom.

To illustrate, Jesminder’s parents, Mrs and Mr Bhamra’s Indian ideals cause them to be reluctant to allow Jess to play on her soccer team.The two want her to focus more on her future and reconstructing her current lifestyle to better align with their cultural expectations of her. For example, Mrs. Bhamra constantly reminds Jess of the burden of learning how to cook in the kitchen rather than playing on a soccer field, and to find a honorable Sikh husband, depriving Jess of her dreams and aspirations. Consequently, Jess hides her passion and endures the internal conflict of whether she should obey her parents or commit herself to her team, the Hounslow Harriers. The overwhelming guilt over lying to her parents eventually leads to her quitting practice, demonstrating how unrealistic expectations can limit one’s freedom of individualism. To resolve her conflict, Jess’ dad learns to tweak his own idea of what daughters can and cannot do, and allows her to sneak out of her sister’s wedding to attend the soccer tournament with the American scout. Overtime, Jess earns the acceptance of her parents and finds a way to weave her two clashing worlds together by overcoming the cultural restrictions placed on her. Her struggle to achieve the freedom to play soccer, while at the same time maintain a truthful relationship with her parents displays how maintaining a traditional lifestyle can limit individualism and freedom. Ultimately, she was able to pursue her passion solely because her parents were willing to let go of their cultural obligations because of their love for their daughter.

Moreover, Jess struggles to repress her sprouting affection for Joe while not wanting her parents’ traditional precepts to dictate her relationship. For instance, Mr. Bhamra finds Jess embracing Joe after one of their successful games and is disheartened by her dishonesty, especially since he is a white boy, which is heavily frowned upon as a taboo in conventional Indian culture. Her dad keeps their encounter from the family, however Jess deals with the guilt of lying and attempts to make her feelings for him fade. Simply put, she realizes her relationship with him will not be approved of with her family’s intolerant beliefs, thus she prevents the relationship from going any further to keep both of them out of trouble, regardless of how they may feel about each other. Mr. and Mrs. Bhamra later begin to accept their daughter’s feelings for him, after learning to be more lenient on Jess and releasing her of her cultural obligations, giving her the freedom to be with whoever she chooses. Because of her parents letting go of overbearing cultural practices, she can be open about her relationship with Joe without impairing her relationship with her family. Essentially, despite the traditions her parents wanted Jess to follow, they allow her the freedom to be with whom she chooses after realizing Jess’ future does not have room for the restraints of cultural expectations.

Manifestly, Jesminder’s conflicts with her family over playing soccer as an Indian girl and her unorthodox relationship with Joe reveal that cultural expectations can limit one’s freedoms. Jess’ departure from the cultural norms and expectations that were once placed on her lead her to a new life of eccentricity and finding her identity as an independent Punjabi girl. Ultimately, fulfilling an individualistic lifestyle lacks the restraints of conservative ideals and seeks one’s authenticity rather than their conformity to those around them.


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