Where Bend It Like Beckham stars are now – EastEnders, rehab and tragic loss

Bend It Like Beckham turned 20 years old this month (April 2022) – and it is still scoring goals with generations of fans across the country.

The comedy followed an aspiring footballer who defied her family to follow her dreams – launching stars including Parminda Nagra and Keira Knightly to Hollywood stardom.

It also exceeded box office expectations, making over £80.3million – despite only having a £3.7m film production budget.

Since its release back in 2002, the stars of the film have since gone on to have worldwide success and global fame in Hollywood films, as well as leading very interesting lives too.

To celebrate the film's anniversary, Daily Star takes a look at where the cast are now.

Parminder Nagra (Jess Bhamra)

Parminder Nagra rose to fame as talented footballer Jess Bhamra in Bend It Like Beckham, after undergoing an intense 10-weeks of training ahead of the role.

From there it has been onwards and upwards for the star, landing a leading role in hit US medical drama E.R as Neela Rasgotra for over six years until its final episode in 2009, as well as appearing in TV series The Blacklist, Marvel's Agents Of Shield and 13 Reasons Why.

In her personal life, Parminder was also married to James Stenson from 2009-2012, welcoming a son called Kai.

However the couple later divorced, citing irreconcilable differences, and the star currently lives in Los Angeles with her son.

She has since appeared in hit Netflix film Bird Box and TV series DI Ray, with Parminder recently revealing to The Guardian that she would love to return to the UK following her work on drama Intergalactic.

Parminder said: "I think some of the most interesting stuff coming out right now is from England. And I’m English! So I want to be a part of that.

"Even with Intergalactic, just being on an English set with the banter – or the bants, as we like to say – made me miss England.

"I want to come back and I want to be able to work. Hopefully, I’ll have the opportunity to do that."

Keira Knightly (Jules Paxton)

Keira Knightly has become one of the world's biggest stars, after making her debut film appearances in Hollywood blockbuster Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, and as Jules Paxton in Bend It Like Beckham at the age of just 17 years old.

However it was her role as Elizabeth Swan that catapulted her to global fame, appearing in four installments of the Pirates Of The Caribbean series, as well as Richard Curtis rom-com Love Actually.

Despite her fame, Keira revealed that she was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at the age of 22, as she struggled to cope with her stardom, telling Hollywood Reporter Awards Chatter podcast: "It's amazing looking back at it from the outside – you're like, 'Woah, that was hit after hit after hit!' But, from the inside, all you're hearing is the criticism, really."

She added: "I felt pretty much like actually I didn't exist and I was this weird creature with this weird face that people seemed to respond to in quite an extreme way, and I couldn't quite figure any of it out."

Keira has since continued to appear on our TV and cinema screens, landing roles in Atonement, The Imitation Game and becoming the face of high fashion brand Chanel's iconic perfume.

She is also due to appear in film The Boston Strangler, following her most recent role in Silent Night in 2021.

Along with high profile relationships with fellow actors including Rupert Friend and Jamie Dornan, she has since welcomed two daughters with husband and The Klaxons musician James Righton.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Joe)

Viewers couldn't take their eyes off TV heartthrob Jonathan Rhys Meyers as he arrived on screen as football coach Joe in Bend It Like Beckham.

Jonathan was already a huge name, after appearing in drama series Gormanghast in the mid-nineties, as well as films including Velvet Goldmine before landing his role in the footballing comedy hit.

From there Jonathan also landed leading roles as King Henry VIII in drama series Tudors, for which he was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards, as well as playing Dracula in the Sky TV series and landing the role of Bishop Heahmund in Vikings.

He has also starred in films including From Paris With Love alongside John Travolta, and The Mortal Instruments opposite Lily Collins, as well as following in Keira Knightly's footsteps and landing himself modelling campaigns with fashion brands including Hugo Boss.

Jonathan is also listed as appearing in a number of films currently in pre-production.

However in his personal life, Jonathan has been reported to have battled alcohol addiction, and spoke openly about going into rehab during an interview with Daily Mail, saying: "I’ve been to a lot of rehab centres in my life… I went to three in one year and I talked to my therapist.

"I would be known as somebody who relapses with problem drinking, not alcoholism. I don’t suffer from alcoholism – I suffer from an allergy to alcohol every time I drink it. But once I stop, I never think about it again.

"That doesn’t mean that the problem is any less, it just means I have a different version of it. But when I drink, the consequences are so devastating that it is a problem. But I never need a drink. It’s not something that I crave."

Away from our screens, Jonathan has also been married to actor and producer Mara Lane since 2016, with who he has one son called Wolf.

Ameet Chana (Tony)

Ameet Chana played Jess' best friend Tony in Bend It Like Beckham, before going on to land a regular role in BBC soap Eastenders for over two years from 2003-2005 as Adi Ferreira.

On set he was also reunited with his fellow Bend It Like Beckham co-star Pooja Shah, who played Jess' cousin Meena in the film, before playing Ameet in EastEnders.

From there he has not left our screens, appearing in Casualty, Holby City and Ghost, along with a number of films that are currently in pre-production.

He is also reported to be a presenter on BBC Asian Network, and in his personal life, is married to Shikha Varma.

Juliet Stevenson (Paula Paxton)

Award winning actress Juliet Stevenson played Jules' mum Paula in Bend It Like Beckham – but was already a worldwide name by the time she appeared in the hit comedy.

After training at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art alongside other Hollywood names including Alan Rickman, Kenneth Branagh and Imelda Staunton, she later starred opposite Alan Rickman in 1991's Truly Madly Deeply, for which she was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Actress.

Since then she has had leading roles in films including Being Julia, Departure, TV series The Long Call and most recently, Death in Paradise.

Juliet has also been married to her anthropologist husband Hugh Brody since 1993, with who she has two children, and speaking about the moment she met him, Juliet told The Guardian: "Something extraordinary happened that had never happened to me before.

"It felt like, “Oh, there you are…” It was the most profound kind of recognition."

She also reflected on the death of her stepson Tomo and dealing with the grief of his loss, adding: "I’m scared of anything happening to my children or Hugh or the people I love.

"I’ve had this terrible bereavement and so it’s happened. We’re quite scared at the moment. Grief is terribly difficult. You’re not in control. You have to catch up with what’s happening to you."

Shaheen Khan (Sukhi Bhamra)

Shaheen Khan starred as Jess' mum Sukhi in Bend It Like Beckham, who although not keen on her daughter's dreams to be a footballer, supported her in heartfelt emotional scenes at the end of the film alongside the rest of Jess' family.

As well as winning the Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role, Shaheen has continued to act in TV series including Doctor Who, Casualty and It's A Wonderful Afterlife.

She is also a successful playwright, writing productions for BBC Radio 4 and playing Lady Macbeth in a 2015 theatre production, and most recently starred in Apple Tree House.

Archie Panjabi (Pinky Bhamra)

Emmy award winning actress Archie Panjabi played Jess' older sister Pinky, whose wedding was one of the big storylines in Bend It Like Beckham.

From there she has continued to be one of the biggest stars on our TV screens, appearing in the first series of Life on Mars as Sam Tyler's girlfriend Maya Roy, who goes missing while investigating a crime.

She has also played Mona Harcourt in 2018 series Next of Kin, Simone Banarjee in 2014's Widower, Nas Kamal in tv series Blindspot from 2016-2020 and starred in Hollywood films including The Constant Gardener.

She most recently starred in TV series Departure as Kendra Malley from 2019 – 2021, as well as Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Fall.

Away from our screens, Archie has also been married to Rajesh Nihalani since 1998.

Anupam Kher (Mohaan Bhamra)

Anupam Kher starred as Jess' dad Mohaan, who encouraged her to follow her dreams and become a professional footballer.

The actor was already a huge Bollywood film star before appearing in Bend It Like Beckham, and has continued his stellar career in films including in TV series New Amsterdam and Hollywood films Silver Linings Playbook and Bride And Predjudice.

In a 2004 episode of US Medical Drama E.R called Damage, he was also reunited with on-screen daughter Parminda Nagra.

He is also due to appear in a number of upcoming films currently in pre-production.

Away from our screens, Anupam has been married to actress Kirron Kher since 1985, and from 2017-2018, he was also the Chairman of the Film and Television Institute of India.

Shaznay Lewis (Mel Goines)

Shaznay Lewis played footballer Mel Goines in Bend It Like Beckham, but fans may have recognised her as part of a huge chart topping girl group.

Before landing her first acting roles, Shaznay was part of All Saints who released hit singles including Never Ever and Pure Shores – making them the third best selling girl group of all time.

However Shaznay has since returned to music and along with reuniting with All Saints, saying to PRS for Music that working on their last two albums has: "made us stronger than ever," adding: "Back then it was more success but, I feel, less quality in what we were doing. Whereas now, it’s less successful, but I prefer the quality in what we’re doing, we all do."

Away from All Saints, Shaznay has also written songs for megastars including Black Heart for Stooshe and Black Magic for Little Mix.

She has also been married to Christian Storm since 2004 and has one child called Tyler.

Nina Wadia (Wedding caterer)

Soap fans will recognise the wedding caterer in Bend It Like Beckham, as it is none other than EastEnders Zainab Masood actress Nina Wadia.

She played Zainab from 2007-2013 and became a fan favourite on the soap, with the actress telling Daily Star: "I miss EastEnders a lot, but after doing it for five and a half years it was time for me to go back to comedy and have a bit of a change."

As well as appearing in Still Open All Hours, Goodness Gracious Me and most recently Death In Paradise, Nina has also appeared on game show All Star Mr and Mrs.

She also appeared in the 2021 series of Strictly Come Dancing alongside professional star Neil Jones, but was eliminated in the first week.

Nina has also been married to composer Raiomond Mirza since 1998 after the couple met while on a trip in Canada, and they have two children together.

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