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Bend It volleys towards Bollywood-style musical

London, Dec. 8: The producer and director of Bend It Like Beckham are planning to turn the award-winning British football film into a West End stage musical with Bollywood song and dance routines.

The film, about an Indian girl living in Hounslow, west London, who sets her heart on a career as a professional soccer player against the wishes of her parents, was a runaway hit in Britain and the US.

The film made two new British stars, Keira Knightley and Parminder Nagra, but it is unlikely that they will appear in the stage version.

Knightley, an unknown schoolgirl before the film, has since landed big roles in Pirates of the Caribbean and Love Actually. Nagra has joined the cast of ER.

To cash in on the success of the film — and also on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Bollywood Dreams — Gurinder Chadha, the director, and Deepak Nayar, the producer, are raising money for the stage version which they want to open in the West End next year.

When another British film, The Full Monty, was spun off into a musical, its setting was switched from Sheffield to Buffalo.

But Chadha and Nayar say Bend It will stay British.

“The musical will be set in the same place but the Punjabi culture that the movie embodies is so full of life and culture and we will bring that more to life in the musical,” Nayar said yesterday. “Much will be decided once we have held workshops, but Gurinder has some great ideas.”

Since Bend It, the pair have teamed up on another Anglo-Indian hybrid, Bride and Prejudice, a Bollywood-style musical film based on the Jane Austen novel to be released next year.

Once, stage shows might be turned into films. Now, West End stage versions of films include The Lion King, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, with Billy Elliot and When Harry Met Sally both opening next year.

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