The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fifa fetes Beckham’s Jas
- Parminder wins award for ‘outstanding service to game’

London, Dec. 18: The film director, Gurinder Chadha, who was doing a spot of Christmas shopping in Oxford Street today, confessed she had two reasons to celebrate.

Parminder Nagra, the British Asian actress who plays the football mad Jas in Chadha’s hit movie, Bend It Like Beckham, has been honoured with a special award by Fifa, the game’s international ruling body, in a ceremony in Madrid.

Nagra admitted: “I am very nervous. It’s really unique to be at this event. I am grateful that two professions that are about realising dreams have met.”

Chadha was also delighted to hear that Aishwarya Rai had confirmed in Calcutta that the former Miss World would star in the Bollywood version of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

“You know how it is with Bollywood stars,” Chadha told The Telegraph.

“It is so difficult to get dates from them because they are working on so many films at the same time. But she has confirmed four months for next summer.”

In Zurich, the headquarters of Fifa, the organisation’s media officer, Andreas Herren, told The Telegraph: “Parminder Nagra was given the presidential award which the Fifa president can give to a person or personality, who doesn’t have to be connected to the world of football but who, in one way or another, renders outstanding service to the game.”

The president, Joseph Blatter, had been much taken with Nagra’s performance in Bend It Like Beckham, he added.

“We were pleasantly surprised that it was possible for Miss Nagra to come to Madrid at short notice,” he said.

Blatter said: “Bend It Like Beckham is a delight — a feel-good film that goes straight to the heart of all of us at Fifa. What really sets this movie apart for me is the fact it really is about the love of football. In my capacity as Fifa president, I have been working to promote women’s football for many years now, so I can also salute such excellent publicity for the game.”

He also said: “The film’s originality also resides in its context: that of Indian girls growing up in England. Jas also stands out, not only for her ball skills, but also for her cultural heritage. The film is also very funny.”

Meanwhile, more details were announced in London today about the English-language Bollywood version of Pride and Prejudice.

The leading man opposite Aishwarya will be a Hollywood star of “matching” status, Chadha said. He will play Will D’Arcy.

Chadha’s film will turn the Bennett family of Hertfordshire into the Bakshi family of India.

A statement from Pathe Pictures said: “Although based on Jane Austen’s classic novel of the same name, the film will adopt the now recognisable Bollywood conventions, with the narrative driven forward by a number of spectacular musical sequences. Lyrics are by the famous Akhtar family and music is by Anu Malik, India’s most prominent composer and recipient of this year’s President’s Award.”

The statement added: “Currently in pre-production in India, the film will commence principal photography in July, 2003, shooting on location in India, the UK and the US. Pathe Distribution will release the film in the UK and France. Pathe International will sell the film throughout the rest of the world.”

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