» » East Is East (1999)

Short summary

In early 1970s England, a Pakistani father finds the authority he has previously maintained challenged by his increasingly Anglicized children.
In 1971 Salford fish-and-chip shop owner George Khan expects his family to follow his strict Pakistani Muslim ways. But his children, with an English mother and having been born and brought up in Britain, increasingly see themselves as British and start to reject their father's rules on dress, food, religion, and living in general.

Trailers "East Is East (1999)"

All of the actors portraying George's children were born in England and found it easy to relate to their character's feelings of being brought up to be British while being expected to maintain their family's cultural values and beliefs.

The film was banned in Egypt.

The costumes George's children wear are deliberately outdated to signify that they are hand-me-downs passed down between them all.

Based on a popular stage production of the same name; most of the actors returned to reprise their roles in the movie.

The Khan house doesn't have its own bathroom, which was perfectly normal for the average terraced house of the time. A tin bath (as shown in the initial scenes) for washing with would be shared in a sitting room or bedroom between the family while the only toilet was an outhouse in the back garden.

Writer Ayub Khan-Din based the story on several of his own life-experiences growing up with a multi-cultural family.

The set department struggled to find authentic 1970s wallpaper and carpeting and had to pay a substantial amount of money to have it specially made for the production.

A cut scene featured a discussion where George's children tried to debate amongst themselves what their nationality was after Peggy cruelly calls Meenah a 'Paki'. The scene was initially intended to speak volumes about the mixed views each child had regarding nationality; only Maneer was shown to believe himself a Pakistani while the others determined to be Anglo-Indian or English.

This caused some controversy when it was released in the US as Miramax deliberately obscured the fact that it featured Asian characters in its marketing approach. Nevertheless the film was a solid hit in the States, grossing over $4 million, a very high figure for a low budget British film.

The drawing of a penis with a foreskin that Saleem shows his brothers and sister proved unexpectedly difficult. Chris Bisson can't draw so an artist was commissioned to sketch the object in question but, upon seeing the finished result, it was quickly decided that it looked too odd. It transpired that the artist was in fact circumcised and had no familiarity with foreskins so the cast and crew were asked if anyone could draw and would like to volunteer their penis. Fortunately one of the set photographers fit both requirements.

The scenes where the children are running after the cars in the neighborhood is true to life. In low rent districts and council housing estates until the late seventies, cars were rarely owned by residents and were considered a novelty by the neighborhood children.

Om Puri felt that George was a fascinating character to play because of his contradicting personality.

The song that Meenah dances to is "Inhi Logon Ne" from Pakeezah (1972).

The ages of the children are as follows: Nazir - 25, Abdul - 23, Tariq - 21, Maneer - 19, Saleem - 17, Meenah - 14 and Sajid - 11.

Despite playing 14-year-old Meenah, Archie Panjabi was actually 26 at the time of filming.

The title derives from Rudyard Kipling's poem "The Ballad of East and West", with its refrain "Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet"

The cinema that the family visit in Bradford was filmed at what used to be The Metro in Ashton-Under-Lyne, Manchester.

The film takes place in 1971.

Five months after its release, this was still playing in British cinemas, having accrued over £10 million in box office receipts.

Ruth Jones and Emma Rydal would both go on to the TV series Stella (2012), in which Jones plays the title character. Coincidentally, in East is East Rydal's character is named Stella.

Om Puri (George Khan), Linda Bassett (Ella Khan), Lesley Nicol (Annie), Jimi Mistry (Tariq Khan) and Emil Marwa (Maneer Khan) are the only actors to reprise their roles in West Is West (2010).

In France the film was called "Fish and Chips: The Crunchy Comedy".

Shot in Manchester on what meteorologists were calling the wettest month in history.

Emma Rydal had to wear a wig as she had cut her hair drastically short months previous to casting for her part in _"Playing the Field" (1998) _.

The opening march was shot on an extremely cold day. If you look closely, you can see that some of the extras are clearly suffering in the cold.

The original play does not feature Nasir's wedding at the start.

The Bradford "shopping" scene was in fact filmed in Southall, Middlesex some 204 miles away!

Throughout the film, Abdul is revealed to be nicknamed Gunga Din by his workmates due to his being Pakistani. In a deleted scene, he ultimately lets this take its toll on him and lashes out at one of his workmates for this while drinking at a pub.

A cut scene revealed Abdul breaking down and crying in his father's presence the night before Mr. Shah's family were to visit. It was cut from the film after the director felt it hurt the character of Abdul too much and left the film feeling slightly too somber.

George emigrated to the UK in 1937 but calls himself a "Pakistani" and very anti Indian, however Pakistan was not formed until 1947 after partition which means he was a Indian national and has been living in the UK for 34 years!

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: Nikok
    Engaging, well-made comedy based on the play by Ayub Khan-Din concerning the misfortunes of an Anglo-Pakistani family verging on the brink of change in early 1970s Salford. Traditional dad Om Puri is shocked when his oldest son (Ian Aspinall) runs away from an arranged wedding, and decides that from now on his family will be more respectful. Among his plans are the weddings of two of his other sons, both of whom are far from delighted with the idea. Khan-Din's fine script never resorts to cliche resulting in a funny, study of the clash between the old and the new.

    Linda Bassett as superb as Puri's second wife, an English woman who straddles both camps between her husband's traditionalism and her kids' sense of rebellion while nonetheless attempting to keep her own dignity.

    Fine performances from Chris Bisson and Jimmi Harkishin (Coronation Street) and Jimi Mistry (EastEnders) while little Jordan Routledge is great as the parka-loving Sajid.

    However, it's Puri who shines as the complex father, desperately trying to hang on to tradition and finding nothing but rebellion from his family.

    The ending could easily have been a familiar family seeks revenge on their overbearing father but what results is a refreshing change to the many TV movies that usually opt for an easy solution to a difficult problem.
  • comment
    • Author: Ann
    Three teenagers are sitting in front of a TV, enjoying their large helpings of pork sausage and bacon. Suddenly they hear a door opening and immediately start cleaning up all of the dishes and unsuccessfully try to get rid of the fumes of grilled bacon and sausages that billowed through the whole house. This is, of course, not depicting the normal life of three teenagers, but taken from the film "East Is East" by Damien O'Donnell. It deals with the story of a family in England in the 1970s with a Pakistani father (multi-facetted enacted by Om Puri) who still believes in his Pakistani traditions and his Muslim religion and an English mother (great performance by Linda Bassett) who tries to give her seven children as much freedom as all of their "fully English" friends enjoy. This movie was labeled as a Comedy both in theaters and on DVD or VHS, but anybody looking for light-hearted entertainment fitting for a Saturday night will be hugely disappointed. This movie is out to teach the viewer about how difficult it is to get two very different cultures to not only co-exist peacefully next to each other, but to merge them to create a new one. The script by Ayub Khan-Din, who also wrote the book and the stage version of this movie, does have its funny moments, and the whole cast, including the children, is in for some good laughs. But the more intense moments are those where the viewer has to deal with outbursts of domestic violence or things like arranged marriages that seem so far away and cruel to Westerners. The cast shows its brilliance in those intimate moments. Even though the script might sometimes appear to be too ambitious – there are just too many characters all developing in a very distinct manner and all crucial to the movie – the movie can be recommended to anyone who is not looking for a standard comedy and is willing to have his views on life challenged.
  • comment
    • Author: Steel_Blade
    „East is East" is a refreshing inventive family story. Directly the first scene where two different religions and also two opposing views of life (namely the children's and the view of their conservative father) clash together. With the funny way of telling which is typical for the whole film, nevertheless the problems are shown in their graveness. The cast represents every member of this Pakistani family as an individual but the good relations between the siblings and their mother is shown as realistic as the problematic relation between them and their incorrigible father. The viewer gets the impression of a different culture but he will recognize a lot of aspects of his own family life, too, what was aimed by the makers who brought in the personal experiences. All in all, this movie is an evening-filling enrichment for the viewer.
  • comment
    • Author: Xellerlu
    I wish there were more movies about the different cultures in the UK. Not just the Anglo, but the Asian and West Indian perspectives. Even the Southeast Asian view. The Middle Easterners have shown great strides with movies like "Bend It Like Beckham" and a few others. This movie got away from me until recently. I saw in the library video section and decided to check it out. The box is very misleading. They put a young interracial couple, front and center on the cover when actually their subplot is very peripheral to the story. I guess the movie studio figured they'd get a wider audience interested with younger faces on the cover since the main characters look to be in their 50s.

    George Khan (Om Puri) has left his native Pakistan to live in the UK with its soveriegnty ties. Though he has a wife back in his homeland (she is only mentioned, not seen), he marries a white Englishwoman, Ella (Lynda Bassett). They have 7 kids: 6 boys and 1 girl. Flash forward to the late 60s (where the movie actually begins) and we see his kids are truly English in behavior though he stresses that they must go to Mosque to study and worship. His oldest is to be wed in an arranged marriage to a woman he hardly knows. He runs out in the middle of the ceremony in fear, embarrassing his family especially his father who disowns him. This sets the tone of the movie. His kids are English-born and want to live like their friends in their working-class neighborhood but George wants to raise them as traditional Muslims, despite opposition from his wife, Ella, who only wants the kids to be happy. She tries to help them avoid run-ins with their father who despite his cheerfulness is quite an ogre when angered. The kids range in attitude and indifference toward George's attempts to introduce them to the traditional ways.

    This is a decent introduction to immigrant life in the UK especially since it's set during a time when there was political strife over immigration of non-whites into Britain. Though it's an effective comedy, it also touches on the frustration immigrants of any culture go through to hold onto or reject their identity. The only thing marring this movie is a domestic violence scene that may bother some. Still a very good movie worth seeing.
  • comment
    • Author: WtePSeLNaGAyko
    "East is East"- another boring film we have to watch in our English lesson. These were my first thoughts when I heard that this film will be the next topic our English class has to deal with. But that is absolutely not the case! This film is a great enrichment for the viewer and it is no boring stuff at all.

    Ayub Khan-Din wrote a fantastic script which is perfectly put into action by Damien O'Donnell. The cast members did a good job by giving their characters influences to link them into the right direction. For example Om Puri who played his complex character "George Khan" with such a conviction and even the youngest cast member Jordan Routledge who has absolutely not to hide behind his co-cast members in his performance of „Sajid Khan". Also the setting in the 70's is a big success so that you get the impression as if you are living within this time. Mostly I liked the way the writers handled the difficult topic of the different lifestyles of Pakistani and British people without speaking in favour for one group. They used a lot of prejudices about both cultures but they converted it into funny scenes everybody has to laugh about. So a good balance between comedy and tragedy is created because of the spontaneous comic relieves. The film gives a good opportunity for watching it for entertainment but also for talking seriously about it, like for example the two generations and their different points of view: On the one hand we can see the young generation of Sajid who does not care if his friend Earnest is a Pakistani or not. And also Tariq who does not want to be a devout Pakistani and likes partying all night even if his father gets angry about it. But on the other hand, there is the older generation of immigrants George belongs to which is extremely influenced by their traditional values and it is hard for them to adapt to the British society. It seems as if especially George does not learn from his mistakes: After the failed arranged marriage of eldest son Nazir, he tries to plan marriages for his sons Tariq and Abdul who are strongly against it. At the end, left alone from his family, George seems to be contemplative and Ella goes back to him for reconciliation. But the viewer does not get to know whether George changes his behaviour or not but you can still hope it! And that's why "East is East" is such an intoxicating movie: Everybody can identify with one of the characters and so you suffer with Ella when she is beaten up by her husband, you laugh with the siblings when they are teasing each other, you want to give them good advices and most importantly, you think about what you would have done in their situation.

    So I can really recommend watching this movie because of the good balance of comical and tragically effects, the great actors and not to forget, the fantastic story written by a man who collected his first experiences by creating this script which was such a success.
  • comment
    • Author: Eigeni
    `East is East,' something of a modern day version of `Fiddler on the Roof,' explores the culture clash that occurs in the context of a half Pakistani/half British family living in early 1970's England. George Khan is a Muslim who, upon immigrating to Great Britain in 1937, married a British woman despite the fact that his first wife still lives in Pakistan. Now, twenty five years later, the still happily married couple lives in a small apartment with their daughter and six sons all of whom have been raised to honor their father's religion and traditions. Yet, like Tevye, George is suddenly confronted with the fact that, as times change and the world moves on, the younger generation will no longer abide by the archaic rituals of an ancient age. In many ways, this is the flip side of `Fiddler' in that here the reluctant marriage partners are sons and not daughters. For indeed, George's ultimate goal in life is to arrange marriages for his teenaged sons within the accepted tradition of the Muslim faith. But culture is often a force that parents try in vain to withstand and these children, raised in the far more open and liberated society of `mod' England, are not about to take such dictatorial parental control lying down.

    In the script based on his play, Ayub Khan-Din provides an evenhanded and comprehensive view of the situation. George is not presented to us as an inflexible or unreasonable ogre, yet at the same time, he will, in his frustration, strike out even physically at the children and the wife who seem to oppose him. We sense the fear that runs through him that, if his sons are allowed to exercise their freedom in this one crucial area, the family will sever that connection with the past which brings stability to their lives. Thus, without any traditions to anchor them, George dreads that he and the family will be cut adrift in a seemingly rudderless world that suddenly seems in the 1970's to be in such great and terrifying moral flux. Moreover, we are left to ponder the strange contradiction between George's own words and the choices he himself has made. After all, his opting to marry a British woman who does not share the tenets of his faith obviously went beyond the bounds of the very traditions he is now so dogmatically insisting his sons uphold. This type of ambiguity within the characters enhances their credibility, for indeed life and the people we meet therein come replete with such maddening inconsistencies.

    Khan-Din and director Damien O'Donnell establish an effective balance between low-key humor and occasionally searing drama. The relationship between the husband and wife who comprise this interracial marriage is complexly realized and fully drawn; the obvious difficulties the two have experienced as a result of the nonconformity of their union has obviously strengthened their devotion to one another and they appear to greatly enjoy each other's company. She has undoubtedly made any number of concessions and compromises to her husband's belief system, yet she has retained her British feistiness and knows how far to let George go before she draws the line, especially when it comes to protecting the rights and happiness of her own progeny. In a similar way, we see, in thorough detail, the complexities that make up the two very different sets of relationships between the respective parents and their children. Din and O'Donnell have, wisely, chosen to limit the scope of their film by downplaying the broader theme of how a suspicious and prejudiced society deals with so unconventional a marriage and family. We see only bits and pieces of this in the form of bigoted comments uttered by a disapproving neighbor and a mere mention of a political rally intended to rouse the populace on the issue of `repatriation.' Instead, the authors concentrate almost exclusively on the internecine struggles taking place within this one family. This helps to keep the scale of the film life-sized, thus enhancing our identification with the characters and their universal parent/child conflicts. For, in a way, the Khan family is really not undergoing any crisis not already familiar to countless families the world over, as parents cope with children eager to cut the filial chords and establish life on their own terms and as children, likewise, deal with parents who want to determine the course those lives will take. The Khans just happen to provide a more heightened and intensified view of this subject.

    `East is East' is a small movie but an absorbing one. Thanks to uniformly excellent performances from a gifted cast and a careful modulation between humor and drama, the film emerges as a compelling and insightful glimpse into a life that is, as for all of us, so full of both terrifying and wonderful complexity.
  • comment
    • Author: Uylo
    Excellent film of interracial family, traditions versus the contemporary and chartering somewhere in the middle ground. I was somewhat dubious about the way EAST IS EAST was touted as a comedy, seemingly about horny teenagers and adolescent rebellion against parental authority. I thought, Oh Lord, the Americans have a lock on this type of flick, and now the British want in, too. Then, I saw Om Puri's name as the lead. I have been a longtime fan of this amazing actor, and thought, well it's worth a look.

    Wow! What a captivating, interesting and at times, humorous film. I found it unpretentious and unflinching, and marvelously human, which is where the humor rested. The mingling of cultures, and those becoming an amalgamation of the two, lead to uproarious clashes sometimes. The wishes, well in this case, the demands of the draconian father for his children, and the reality in which they live clearly head for confrontation. The screenplay by Ayub Khan-Din is a great slice of life; it's certainly wasn't hard to tell that he might have culled some of the notions included from life experience. It's not meant to be exacting, as some have criticized. No more so, than Laura Ingalls Wilder's "LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE" was meant to be a strictly historical factoid on pioneering life in the early western US. It's meant as a slice of it, of one persons vision or interpretation.

    EAST IS EAST is extraordinary, a marvel to watch, and one that simply gets better with each viewing. Don't miss this one. Highly recommended.
  • comment
    • Author: Djang
    A bitter-sweet comedy with some moments of truly stark drama, this is a high-class movie. Yes, there are randy dogs and fat, ugly girls - but the piece is a class act because it mixes those "laugh-out-loud funny" comic set pieces with great drama so cleverly.

    Very much a period piece, the movie is set in Salford in 1971 - a telling time for a part-Pakistani family with Enoch Powell's shadow never too far away and the break-away of East Pakistan (Bangladesh-to-be)unravelling as the film goes on. The poverty of 1971 Salford with the outside toilet, bedpans and tin bath is excellently portrayed. And at a more mundane level, the constant sight of a bright orange space-hopper and its comedic demise is truly nostalgic, especially to this reviewer whose own space-hopper suffered a similar fate around 1971.

    Superb acting performances all round - Linda Bassett used to be one of the better-kept secrets on the UK stage, but now I suppose the secret is out. Highly recommended movie.
  • comment
    • Author: Jieylau
    Call me biased but British comedy is unbeatable for it's freshness and depth of character. In the ranks of British comedy east is east is in the top rank. While making serious comment on the community and personal problems of race mix in working class england around 1970 (has anything changed?) this film extracts so much humour. I am just in awe of the talent on both sides of the camera. Don't miss this masterpiece
  • comment
    • Author: Swordsong
    "East is East" tried to cover too many issues and genres in the one film. In the end I don't think the script was strong enough to tie all this together, and the film suffered because of it. Having said that I believe it was a strong performance from a talented cast.

    In it's favour there were some hilarious scenes throughout the movie, and an insight into the Pakistani families and communities in England. Not the typical English stereotypes usually portrayed by Hollywood, nor the typical London lifestyle so often seen in movies today, which was a refreshing change.

    Oh Yeah, this confirmed how dangerous and damaging religion has the potential to be. Definitely worth a look.
  • comment
    • Author: Faezahn
    No doubt to a large extent due to my low tolerance for vulgarity, violence, and adolescent humor, I came away almost wishing I hadn't seen this film. Perhaps blinders prevented me from really seeing "East is East", which I saw tonight at a local Indian film festival, for what it is.

    The movie reminded me of films like "Sammy and Rosie" (with Pakistani father played by Shashi Kapoor returning to visit family in London) and "My Beautiful Laundrette" (set in 1980s London) that I saw around 1985 or 1986. Like those films, "East is East" deals with the lower middle class South Asian immigrant experience in London. I didn't enjoy those films either, though "My Beautiful Laundrette" was worth seeing.

    "George" Khan (Om Puri), a traditional Muslim Pakistani, leaves his wife and homeland in 1937 to settle in England. Sometime after that, he takes a second wife, Ella (played by Linda Bassett). The film is set in the 1970s, and portrays George and Ella raising a number of sons and one daughter. George tries to hang on to mores he was brought up with, and is insistent that the family follow these ways, accept his sole authority, and not adapt to the culture they are in.

    George claims to only try to do what he thinks is best for the family, but the lack of two-way communication and his authoritarian style deepen his cultural gap with the rest of the family. His inflexible old-world traditions are especially problematic in that Ella is British and the children were all born and brought up in England, and this leads to a family crisis.

    I'm not sure what others saw in this film. George's domestic violence was difficult to stomach, as were his constant profane tirades and closed-minded tantrums. There were glimmerings of discrimination, and I feel the film could have been much more multi-dimensional and socially telling if it had explored this context. I would also have found the story more compelling if it had hilighted some of the elements of Pakistani culture in a more positive light, and set the scene for more sympathetic consideration of the struggling immigrant father. Chalk it up to my idiosyncracies, but I would only give "East is East" a rating of 4 on a scale of 10.
  • comment
    • Author: Kalrajas
    I didn't want to do this, but after reading how many poor souls think that this movie is an accurate represenation of a Pakistani immigrant, you should know that it isn't!

    Most Pakistani men are not so vulgar and stupid, and George does not understand his Islam at all (e.g Children must freely consent to marrying their spouse, whereas George is autocratic, and a man can never disown his son, to name a few doctrinal points). I can say that he does tend to represent all the worst stereotypes of Pakistani culture (the overbearingness, insecurity, arrogance). But this has nothing to do with his religion. More to do with his own misunderstanding of it. And I've never seen anyone so poorly understand it as him. This guy is a creep. Yuck.
  • comment
    • Author: Dodo
    Damien O'Donnel's bright and colourful comedy drama is, for the most part, an entertaining and nostalgic tale of the conflicts within a mixed-race family in early seventies Manchester. A hit in the UK upon release the film also did modest business in the US helped by a marketing campaign that promoted it as a breezy comedy but the film also tackles the serious question of what it was, and what it is, to be young, Asian and British. It's curious, and perhaps a little disappointing, that despite the early seventies setting the film steadfastly refuses to tackle the broader issue of racism in any depth. At a time when Enoch Powell was extolling the virtues of repatriation and the nations favourite sitcom was 'From Death Us Do Part' (or possibly 'Love Thy Neighbour') the worst any character in East Is East has to contend with is a shifty look from a nightclub bouncer. Powell does have a brief cameo, as a poster on a window that the family's daughter Meenah (Archie Panjabi) smashes in a defiant demonstration of her footy skills. It's a nice moment, a teenage Asian girl kicking in Enoch's head with a soccer ball – What would Alf Garnett say? Unfortunately we don't get to find out as the films only really abusive white character (Who bears a suspicious resemblance to Johnny Spate's 'lovable racist') only appears a couple of times to mutter something about 'Bloody Pakis' or 'Pickininies'. The conflict between Indians and Pakistanis is given a similar treatment, with George expressing his distaste for "Those cow worshipping bastards" and the contemporary conflict on the subcontinent being relayed on the family's radio. Again, however, this seems more to add colour and humour than for any other purpose. Perhaps O'Donnell felt that a deeper examination of these issues would detract from the theme of Asian/British identity and it's true that other British features have dealt with the subjects in greater detail. Having said that it might have been an idea to make a passing reference to the fact that racial prejudice, while not necessarily any more commonplace than today, was certainly seen as more acceptable. Of course, despite the considerable attention to period detail, 'East Is East' lays no claim to painstaking factual accuracy. There's a fairytale like quality to the film heightened by the Bollywood-style primary colours that frequently contrast with the drab Salford landscape. This viewer was reminded of Hettie MacDonald's council estate love story 'Beautiful Thing', like this based on a stage play with a script by the original author. Both of these films employ a subtle heightened sense of reality that suggests a half remembered childhood memory. One marvellous sequence set in a Bradford Asian flea pit (The 'Moti Mahal') sees the entire Khan clan sitting transfixed during the latest Bollywood epic. It's that rare occasion when the conflicts within the family can be forgotten in favour of a fleeting moment of escapism. And conflicts there are, because the real meat of the film concerns the alienation that exists between the rigidly traditionalist George and the other family members. Played, with a mix of bumbling comedy and genuine menace, by Omi Puri George is certain he knows what's best for his children, not to mention his wife. He wants the kids to learn Urdu but they refuse to study, his precious sons should marry into another Pakistani family of his choosing but they want to screw around with white girls and his wife refuses to show the respect that is demanded in a Muslim marriage. George, while not exactly an anachronism – he gets plenty of understanding from the like minded down at the local Mosque – is a man who cannot see that his children are not like him. Their only sense of the 'homeland' is through their father and the traditions he imposes upon them. It's not surprising then that they consider themselves unequivocally British. Upon arrival in Bradford one of the youngsters takes a look at the locals and shouts excitedly "There's 'undreds of 'em!" In a way it's a shame that the family is mixed race. Not enough is done with this to really justify it and how much more impact the conflict between George and Ella (Linda Bassett) would have been were she also Asian. The fact that the Khan children are half Caucasian also simplifies the question of British-Asian identity a little too needlessly. All of this might suggest a rather dry, even depressing film, but like the colourful feature playing at the Moti Mahal 'East Is East' never forgets it's primary function is to entertain. This is, after all, essentially a comedy and it's frequently very funny indeed. The humour ranges from extremely broad – a scene involving the 'banished' sons new life as manager of a 'swinging' London Boutique and another involving a latex vagina could both have come from an 'Austin Powers' movie – to the grimly dark. The best example of this might be youngest son Sajid's (Who lives permanently inside his Parka like a prototype for 'South Park's Kenny) trip to hospital for a circumcision. Towards the end of the film, in a moment mirroring this, he has the hood of his jacket unceremoniously ripped off and is finally exposed to the outside world, or as close to the outside world as George allows the family to get. Clearly Khan-Din's surrogate in the film (Himself a Salford boy who would have been ten in 1971) much of 'East Is East' is viewed through his eyes and from this perspective the film can be seen as something of a 'coming of age' tale. While not entirely successful 'East Is East' is still a welcome addition to the increasing ranks of British-based Asian cinema and television. Seemingly made with a broad audience in mind it, nevertheless, takes up some serious issues. It's just a shame the filmmakers weren't willing to stick their necks out just a little bit further.
  • comment
    • Author: Burking
    East is East is a good example of British comedy drama. Set in the north of England in the 1970's it is the story of an mixed race Asian family living in a mainly white community. However the film doesn't really tackle the conflict between the races but rather the conflict within the family itself - both the clash of the cultures between the white mother and Asian father, and the children resisting the traditional culture of their father.

    The film rises easily above TV sitcom/drama to be of film standard in every sense. The director captures the size of the house and the community well. The acting is good - especially Om Puri as the father. The film builds the picture of an eastern family mixing with the western culture well - with comedy scenes used as well as more dramatic scenes used to show this.

    If you enjoy this style of domestic humour, you'll love this (especially the scenes where the family are all together - check out the youngest who is a very British indeed and reminds me of Kenny from South Park!). But don't be fooled into thinking that this is a crude toilet-humour style comedy (like the marketing suggests) it is much more than that. Also if you have a father who wanted his children to be raised a specific way (not necessarily Asian) then you'll get much of the drama between father and children.

    My only problem with this is that the characters sometimes seem to be caricatures, and the plotting is sometimes a bit ropey with so many things to fit in.

    Is it realistic of the experience of british Muslims at the time? Probably not but it's funny, moving and thought-provoking in equal measure.
  • comment
    • Author: zzzachibis
    I just saw this incredible ensemble movie - I was most struck by the amazing ensemble acting by the entire cast, mostly unknown to me (Archie Panjabi is an emmy winner for her role on "The Good Wife", and I have seen Linda Bassett in a few movies). I absolutely hated the father - he reminded me of my late father, who was also a bully who was enraged by his lack of ability to control others completely - Om Puri gives a ferocious performance - I would be curious to know what the actor felt about his part, did he see him (as I do) as a villain or did he see him as "right"? I found Linda Bassett's role a bit infuriating: those women who stay with their abusive disgusting husbands no matter what. I loved how rebellious the kids were, yet they stayed stuck under this tyrant's thumb. But they could escape into British culture, the neighborhood, school, music, culture that was not Pakistani. The gay son was certainly stereotypical but I still found it daring - it's rare to see a happy gay couple (who also appear to be "married") in movies from before 2000. Meena's dance is wonderful and fun. Damien O'Donnell's direction makes me wish he could make more movies (I've also loved "Rory O'Shea Was Here", which was originally titled "Inside I'm Dancing", but his other few films don't seem to have made it over here) - his direction is incredibly self-assured and brilliant, it was his feature film debut (he had made short films and commercials previously). I especially loved the feel of the film, the production design, the street - interestingly, it was filmed at Ealing Studios, 40 years after the last of the Ealing films were produced there. While this film can get my blood boiling - I wished somebody would run the father over with a car or do anything to get him to STOP his bullying disgusting behavior. (Why is he married to her? It's a real mystery. If he's so "Pakistani", why isn't he married to a Pakistani woman?) But that's what's so great about this movie: it can be simultaneously infuriating AND fascinating! I absolutely loved this movie!!!
  • comment
    • Author: Tantil
    As a 27 year old Muslim who grew up in this country I have to say I could not relate to much of this film. My gripe lies with the inaccuracies of a director who couldn't get the details of the film correct. He managed to get the 70s look and feel of the film spot on, he even managed to get the Indian films and songs of the time right as well. However, being a Muslim director he couldn't (or more precisely deliberately didn't) get the religious details right. These include (spoilers here, but reading them won't spoil the storyline): Muneer getting up in the morning when the sun was well high and starting to pray (prayer at this time is prohibited in Islam!), or all the boys of every age being taught one monotonous sentence by an Imam at the mosque when in reality children of different ages are taught at different levels of difficulty. Minor things one might say, but details are everything with me.

    I had been asked if all the sexual goings-on in the film was offensive and I replied no, because I wanted to watch the film as an objective moviegoer. But, the film was spoiled by the inaccurate details two of which I have mentioned above. Most (non-Muslim) people won't notice these details, but its like going to the best Indian restaurant in town to try some authentic Indian dishes but being handed a plate of vindaloo (people in India don't even know what this dish is!!!).

    Nevertheless, the comical moments were superbly handled and thought out and the acting was excellent. This is definitely one fictional comedy to see.
  • comment
    • Author: Fordredor
    This film depicts ultimate realism for people who have grown up in multi racial environments. The graphic nature of the language only goes to reinforce the raw acceptance of the cultural influence of the times and area in which the film is set (70's Manchester, England). The director has captured the emotional elements the script intended perfectly. It was obviously deeply researched. The character portrayal of the dominant father is by no means stereotypical of the part, but is truly based on the difficulties encountered by the respected head of any multicultural family. His six sons and one daughter are experiencing the natural mix of eastern and western influence and putting their own spin on their existence, much to their father's dismay. The character of the mother portrays the natural ethnic blindness that should be much admired and is yet so common throughout the world. The humor is very real. Every family, if they look back on their own historical events would come to recognise the similarity of the situations encountered. The work surely ranks among the very best in regional exposure along side the likes of "Kes" etc. Well worth watching more than once
  • comment
    • Author: huckman
    East is East is an brilliant effort to convey a Father's dilemma's & tribulations in a multiracial family/community.From an asian perspective this movie could'nt be much farther than the truth of what's really happening. Om puri,the seasoned actor that he is,carries the film on his shoulder with excellent support from Basset and others.One scene in particular,When he sees the photographs of his would-be daughters-in-law,he contemplates between the word he has given and family honour, and decides hastily lest he should lose his face.Throughout the movie he shines in many scenes, which only a great actor can do justice. Basset in the confrontation with mother of the brides, performs brilliantly in suppressing/bursting with anger.The children, all of them have made the movie what it is,with each one of them excelling in one way or other.Neighbours and friends support the films appeal/message very well.
  • comment
    • Author: Yozshujind
    Contains spoilers.

    Not a movie for those with literal minds, obviously.

    This is not a film portraying Muslims or Pakistanis as bad and western society as good. It's not about wife-beating or making fun of ugly girls, or homosexuals, or any of that nonsense. It's about a man--overly concerned with society's opinion of him--who struggles with an increasing feeling of impotence in a changing world.

    He could be any man in any society. The film could as easily be about a fundamentalist Christian father who fears his children's slipping away. To view this movie strictly in literal terms--to think it is about Muslims or Pakistanis--is to completely miss the point. That's simply the canvas for a larger theme.

    This father mistakenly places what society thinks of his family ahead of what the family itself wants. He's not evil--he's trying to do good--but errs in identifying what good is, and misses the signs that he's gone wrong.

    He has his youngest son circumcised at 8 years old. He hits his devoted wife, beats the one son who takes his side, and promises his two middle sons to ugly cows whose snobby mother sits in his house and insults his wife and children--all in the name of doing what's "right" for his family.

    His wife tells the awful prospective mother-in-law "my sons are too good for your daughters" because it's TRUE. Her husband has his head so far up his butt that rather than be embarrassed in front of his peers he takes for his sons the girls no other father would. His son Tariq is the catch of the town-- gorgeous women are literally fighting over him--and his father signs him up at a moment's glance to the ugliest girl in England.

    This after his first son ran out on an arranged marriage.

    Please don't tell me I'm horrible for judging the girls by their looks. They're SUPPOSED to be ugly to make a point. They're a PLOT DEVICE, meant to illustrate just how wrong George has gone. We're not "laughing at fat girls"--we're laughing at a father who doesn't realize his own sons are way out of these particular fat girls' league.

    I'm sure they're lovely people, and that there are nice boys out there for them. But not his sons.

    Ultimately the family bands together to stand up to him, and only then does he realize whose side he's really on.

    Highly recommended to anyone who had a parent who meant well. Great film.
  • comment
    • Author: Fearlessdweller
    Quite possibly one of the most annoying movies of all time. The characters are little more than caricatures (sp ?), which in itself doesn't have to be a problem, but in this movie it IS a problem because the terribly-written characters are accompanied by a go-nowhere plot, awful dialogue, and ongoing toilet humour (which is woefully out of place).
  • comment
    • Author: Yanki
    A blistering condemnation of traditional Pakistani values that is purported to be a comedy.

    Set in 1971, East is East is more drama than comedy (with the much-touted randy dog only appearing twice) and is extremely well acted. Yet it shows no respect for it's subject matter, casting the father of a mixed-race family, George Khan (Om Puri, excellent) as a vicious, foul-mouthed wife beater. This also causes a severe narrative conflict, where the warm-hearted George undergoes a complete character change halfway through the film.

    George is married to the English, white, Ella, yet we are asked to believe that he is a traditionalist and still upholds his religion. While many have slated the stereotypical portrayal of George, who is at first extremely humorous, later extremely violent, what is not often brought into question is the attitude of the children. As anti a representation as the father, they rally against circumcision and arranged marriage while drinking, dating white girls and eating bacon. It is this extreme characterisation that seems determined to cause offence.

    In technical terms, the film cannot be faulted. It is adequately directed, and the script by Ayub Khan-Din from his own stage play is full of witty lines. Acting is what truly saves it, though, with strong performances in particular from Tariq (Jimi Mistry) and Saleem (Chris Bisson). And, of course, Jordan Routledge as Sajid gets most of the best lines. But the film does not suggest any easy solutions. George's ideology (who's frequent use of the Urdu for "sisterf*****" is tellingly not subtitled) is discarded out of hand. There is no display of how his traditional values could be accepted by his family. So too, there is no suggestion that the two values could be combined, or that a compromise is available. Instead, what the film seems to promote is that the values George holds dear as wrong and that the western way of life is the only correct way for society.

    Political correctness, for all its goodness, saves this film. Negative reviews are virtually unheard in England where no one would criticise a minority work. And the fact that the production is written by an Asian rescues it from the "racist" tag. However, making a film that openly lambastes a culture and a belief is not a positive statement. There is, thankfully, an ever-increasing market for Asian culture in modern British society, and the country looks forward to the first successful British-Asian film. East is East, unfortunately, isn't it.
  • comment
    • Author: Tori Texer
    It's not that the film isn't funny - although it isn't (intentionally); it's not that it isn't dramatic (it's certainly melodramatic). It is simply that when it's not being absurd it's being offensive, when it's not being offensive, it's being risible; all the time, it's being simply INCOMPETENT to the point of dementia. The acting is abysmal, especially Om Puri who acts like he's in a Victorian melodrama, and Linda Bassett, who acts like she's in a poor episode of On the Buses.

    It's just monumentally cack-handed in every way, made by people who seem never to have watched a film in their life before. Another crock of rubbish from the British film industry.
  • comment
    • Author: Zainn
    Though the subject matter is interesting and relevant, I didn't like the absurdly unrealistic character portrayal of the father. I am familiar with the demographic that this movie was trying to depict, and this paints a throughly unredeeming picture of a dysfunctional family. Nothing goes right in this family, from the sibling relationships, to intrafamily communication, to religious education, to anger management... Not to say that some of these issues don't exist in some Pakistani families living in Britain, but the fact that this is a rare glimpse into this population, the viewer can be easily misled into thinking that these backwards-ass families are the norm.

    Also, it is transparent that the screenwriter has a bone to pick with a character like the father in this movie, because the father is portrayed as one-dimensional, and hypernegativestereotypical in every way (manipulative, self-centered, violent, grammatically challenged, vulgar, and overall not too savory) and it portrayed almost comically.

    There is so much positive, vibrant, and beautiful in the Pakistani culture, and I'm not just talking about the clothing, as it was portrayed here. Most families are much stronger than what they have become in Western society. I wish this film would have had included some of these aspects and not so much ugliness passed off as slapstick.
  • comment
    • Author: Bev
    Being a Pakistani, I was pretty geared up when I heard about a film about Pakistani people, though I had my reservation knowing that it was a British film, and I was probably the first customer to rent `East is East' when it arrived to a video rental store near my house. And boy was I disappointed!

    I've very rarely found British comedy films exciting and ‘East is East' is no exception. The last one I saw was Blue Juice and it was even worse than this. Why Britain continues to produce amazing actors and actresses (Anthony Hopkins, Sean Connery, Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet etc.) and fail to produce great filmmakers is beyond my comprehension.

    `East and East' could have very easily been an engaging sentimental drama about a Pakistani immigrant and his family trying to cope in a foreign culture. But instead it is an obscene and vulgar comedy that makes mockery of Pakistanis in particular and muslims in general. All the characters that belonged to Pakistan, be it George Khan, Mr. Shah or all those Pakis George meet in Bradford (or is it Bradistan?) were stupid, ill mannered and devoid of any common sense. If that was not enough, they all were cruelly ignorant to the feelings of their families. Character of Om Puri (George Khan) is very uni-dimesional. He is, ignorant, cruel, violent and doesn't seem to give a damn about anyone of his family. Never once do we see him talking nicely to anyone of his seven kids. Minnah was the only daughter among six sons, that should have made at least her an apple of his eye, or like many other of their misconceptions about Islam and Pakistan, the filmmakers thought that all Pakisatnis think less of their daughters than their sons? Throughout the film we hear that he wants the good for his children and never once does he talks politely to them? And was he blind or something to marry his oh-so handsome sons with such ugly looking girls? What was the director's message? That if u grow up in a Pakistani environment like Mr. Shah's daughter's did, u turn up like that?

    One more thing, in the wedding sequence at the beginning of the film, we hear `Allah Ho' played in the background. It was my first experience of hearing a mystical song on a wedding! Even the most radical families of Pakistan tends to sing certain traditional wedding songs and George's family was from Punjab where they have probably thousands of songs for this particular occasion only. Lack of knowledge Mr. Director? Or was it your unfathomable British sense of humor?

    The only commendable thing about the film is acting. Everybody has given a decent performance and it is useless to elaborate on how great an actor Om Puri is! The accent, the language, the facial expression were simply superb. I wish if only it had been for a better film.

    `East is East' is disappointing in every sense and to know that it has been rated as one of the finest British comedies ever made only suggests the standard of the British cinema.
  • comment
    • Author: SING
    The film is not responsible when it comes to explaining that NOT all Asian families are like what they are portrayed in East Is East. Now, besides this problem, the film is rather interesting.

    The film opens up the 70s and it's quite interesting to see how things have changed.

    The acting is superb in this picture, a credit to the director.

    I wish the film had a lot more about different families, rather than concentrating on the bigot father's stupidity.

    Worth watching, quite funny at times, but I wish the writer and director thought more about the consequences.
  • Cast overview, first billed only:
    Om Puri Om Puri - George Khan
    Linda Bassett Linda Bassett - Ella Khan
    Jordan Routledge Jordan Routledge - Sajid Khan
    Archie Panjabi Archie Panjabi - Meenah Khan
    Emil Marwa Emil Marwa - Maneer Khan
    Chris Bisson Chris Bisson - Saleem Khan
    Jimi Mistry Jimi Mistry - Tariq Khan
    Raji James Raji James - Abdul Khan
    Ian Aspinall Ian Aspinall - Nazir Khan
    Lesley Nicol Lesley Nicol - Auntie Annie
    Emma Rydal Emma Rydal - Stella Moorhouse
    Ruth Jones Ruth Jones - Peggy
    Ben Keaton Ben Keaton - Priest
    Kriss Dosanjh Kriss Dosanjh - Poppa Khalid
    John Bardon John Bardon - Mr. Moorhouse
    All rights reserved © 2017-2019