Parminder Nagra returns to our screens as DI Rachita Ray in the new ITV series DI Ray, two decades after she first rose to fame after starring in Bend It Like Beckham alongside with Keira Knightley
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DI Ray viewers saw a familiar face return to screens this week, as the new ITV crime drama stars Parminder Nagra of Bend It Like Beckham fame.
The 46-year-old actress rose to fame two decades ago after starring in the 2002 sports comedy.
Parminder, then 26 years old, was playing football out of love for Jess Bhamra, a teenage girl who defended her conservative parents forbidding her from playing the pretty game.
Breaking the rules, the low-budget film grossed a staggering £60 million at the box office and is the highest-grossing football-focused sports film.
Parminder became the first woman to win the FIFA Presidential Award, met the former England captain, and then landed the role of Neela Rasgotra in the American long-running medical drama ER.
Most recently, she appeared in the Sky Atlantic thriller Fortitude and as a school counselor on the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why.
Parminder has now been cast in the lead role in ITV’s new DI Ray, a four-part series about Birmingham’s criminal underworld that airs this Monday through Thursday.
Produced by Jed Mercurio, the series features police officer Rachita Ray taking on a case that forces her to face a lifelong personal conflict between her British identity and her South Asian heritage.
After the first episode on Monday night, many ITV viewers celebrated seeing Parminder on their screens once again.
Christine Parry / Bend It / Film Council / Kobal / REX / Shutterstock)
Alongside a flurry of confused-faced emojis, one wrote: “Watching Parminder Nagra and struggling to understand that it’s been 20 years since Bend it Like Beckham.”
Another said: “Twenty years have passed since Bend It Like Beckham and I can’t believe we’ve seen so little Parminder Nagra on UK television at the time.”
A third wrote: “It was great watching Beckham’s Bend It Like Parminder Nagra in DI Ray. I always thought she was a great actress.”
Prior to the series’ premiere, Parminder praised Rachita’s “flesh and flesh” character on the ITV show, saying: “For me, it’s all about finding this woman’s place in the world.”
She continued: “You don’t often get an Asian female lead on TV – it’s starting to happen more and more, but having been in the business for so long, I feel like I’ve been saying the same thing for a while. long.
“I can see the change with guys like Bridgerton, but at DI Ray this is my generation of women, we’re in Birmingham and it’s understandable – it’s great to play.
“That’s the main draw for me that I’m not playing someone’s best friend or a supporting character, it’s all about Rachita.
“Someday I want to play a character who doesn’t think about her identity – Bend It Like Beckham also talks about her identity. But those parts are really hard to find or not made very often.
“DI Ray is well written, Rachita’s interactions with people are really great and I love playing a strong 40-year-old woman on the show, being led by these people and telling this story.”
DI Ray continues to air on ITV at 9 pm on Tuesday, May 3.
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