on May 5, 2004
How to get a heap full of problems caused by a multicultural family? - Put together a strict religious Pakistani man and a woman coming from a British working class family!
The film „East is East" is very interesting because it shows a multicultural family, the Khans, and their problems. At the beginning you are involved in the actions immediately, because the conflict between the father and the rest of the family is represented very well. This conflict is about the Muslim tradition of the father and the rest of the family, who wants to live the British way of life. The father, George, forces the typical Pakistani tradition upon to all of his children. Therefore the children are not allowed to live their own life. The consequence is a strong and at the same time humorous rebellion against the father.
The plot is plausible and easy to follow. The film has a good mix between humorous and dramatic scenes. Furthermore, the variety of characters is the most positive aspect of the film for me. George for example is a character who is lovely and sympathetic, but he can also become violent. Each member of the Khan family occupies a different position along a cultural fault line. Especially the seven children have interesting characters. One of them is gay and flees from his arranged marriage. Moreover there is a party-loving rebel and another child is a very religious Muslim. The only daughter wants to live as a boy and loves to play football.
The only negative aspect for me is the end of the film. It is very superficial and does not fulfil the viewers expectations since you do not know if the father really changes his attitude.
But I think the film is very good, because it describes the typical problems of such a family. If you are interested in this kind of family conflicts, the film will entertain you.
on September 11, 2003
George Khan (Om Puri) and his British wife (Linda Bassett) are raising their family in Manchester, England, in 1971, and George is not happy with the way his children are adapting to their English homeland. He wants them to be traditional Pakistanis, though the kids have other ideas. As you'd imagine, this creates many humorous situations. The direction and sets are very good and the cast is superb. It's absolutely hysterical to see the red-headed, chain-smoking British Bassett as she shepherds her very unBritish-looking brood. But the film takes an unexpected and darker turn as George becomes more enraged at his family's disobedience and ultimately reacts with violence. While his transformation is believable, there is never really a resolution to the tension, so I would recommend this film, but if you are wanting a flat-out comedy or a film that tries to answer the question of how to resolve multicultural conflicts, this would not meet the bill.
This is a barebones dvd, with an option for English captioning and a trailer.
on March 1, 2002
This 1999 British film is about the culture clash within a multicultural family living in Manchester, England, in 1971. The father, played by Om Puri, is Pakistani; the mother, played by Linda Basset, is English. They have seven children between the ages of 13 and 24 and run a fish and chips shop in a working class neighborhood. With a mixture of comedy and pathos, we feel the father's frustration as he tries to instill traditional Pakistani values into his family. Naturally they rebel as they are being raised in England and don't even speak their father's language. Each of the children copes in his or her own way, and there are some moments of hilarious comedy as the father tries to arrange marriages for his sons. But behind the humor, there's sadness, and I especially felt sorry for the 13 year-old boy who is forced to be circumcised. Mostly, the children want to be English and when the father becomes abusive to the mother, even the son who opted to be Muslim rebels against the father.
Acting is wonderful. Om Puri makes the audience both laugh at him and understand his grief. And the rest of the casting feels genuine. I was troubled about a few things though. One was the simple fact that there was no indoor plumbing and there are a lot of scenes including urinating in chamber pots. Another was that the joke is always on the Pakistanis; the father looks like a fool over and over again. We laugh at him and are angry at him and even understand him a little bit. But he doesn't get any sympathy and we learn nothing positive about the Pakistani culture. If I were Pakistani, I'd be angry. I did enjoy the story and the acting. But it's a bit too painful to be a comedy. And it just doesn't work as a drama. I therefore can only give it a lukewarm recommendation.
on December 18, 2001
This movie gets two stars because: a) Most of the actors put up a decent performance, and many moments of this movie were generally funny. That being said, this movie made absolutely no attempt to capture the real clash of culture and tradition that takes place when people from the 'East' migrate to the 'West'. Just to give some background, the story is about a family consisting of a 1st generation immigrant Pakistani father, his English wife, and their children, and the clash which takes place between the traditional father and the 'modern' children. The father is such a one-dimensional charachter. We know nothing about him: 1) What was his life like in Pakistan 2)Being as conservative as he is, what made him to marry an English woman? 3) Why do these two stay together, considering the horrible amount of abuse the father dishes out? We never see his point of view, except for one line in which he tries to explain to one of his sons why he is so harsh on them. That was it. The rest of the whole movie portrays him as uncouth, abusive and ignorant and nowhere does the movie attempt to show that any other form of South Asian man exists, i.e. that all people from the 'East' are like the father. Being South Asian, I take offense at this portrayal, as all it helps is to propagate stereotypes and racism against Pakistanis and other South Asians, which I don't think was necessary in this day and age. The movie makes a poor attempt capture the melancholy and struggle that immigrants go through in their new home. Watch it for laughs, but please, don't take this movie as representative of the South Asian diaspora in England/America, as you'll be doing all of them a dishonour. If this topic interests you, I recommend two movies, which are not so well known, but deal with the subject intelligently:
2)ABCD (Just released in theaters as of December 18th 2001).
on October 21, 2001
This is not a comedy though I will be the first one to admit there are some hilarious moments in this film that are side splittingly funny. Set in 1971 in the bleak city of Manchester, this is the story of a biracial family striving to come to terms with their cultural identities. George Khan (Om Puri) believes he is bringing up his seven children to be good Pakistanis but there is rebellion in the ranks, because George's wife Ella (Linda Bassett) is English and her children are as much her offspring as they are their father's despite his attempts to forget this. This film is coarsely vulgar at times, with ribald jokes and innuendo galore but it is also heart warming and genuinely moving and the plot though loose in parts is pulled together by some slick acting and good directing. The storyline follows George and his family as they struggle to come to terms with conflicting interests, such as the headstrong Meenah (Archie Panjabi) whose idea of fun is playing football in the street and eating bacon sandwiches, to Sajid (Jordan Routledge) who hides behind the hood of his dirty waxed jacket, and has yet to be circumcised, much to the horror of his orthodox Muslim father. The film touches many subjects such as arranged marriages, what the right job is for a good Pakistani boy and how do you make East meet West with out a clash of the Titans. With rude words galore, garish colours and a rocking sound track "East is East" is a film that will have you laughing and crying in the same breath. I was raised in the North of England in the 1970s and remember only too well the outside toilets; the freezing cold bedrooms and the cultural divide between two worlds rolling toward a head-on collision. This is a crackingly good film (not for the faint hearted) with excellent acting from all quarters. Who can forget brassy Stella (Emma Rydal) with her eyes firmly on Tariq (Jimi Mistry) and her plump friend Peggy (Ruth Jones) who will do anything for a kiss and a bag of French fries? The DVD version of this film is excellent (with some good bonus material) but if you get the chance to see it on the big screen then do so, it's worth the few extra dollars just to see it larger than life.
on July 31, 2001
I know people who were very offended by this film's portrayal of Pakistanis and I can say from my own experience that not all mixed families have the same problems as the Khans, but I still think that East is East is an excellent movie. The story is about George Khan, a Pakistani in England who married an English woman and begins to fear that his seven children are becoming too Westernized as they grow up. Anyone who comes from a multicultural family will be able to relate to the struggles of the Khan children to reconcile their father's wishes with their lives in 1971 Manchester. The movie isn't really for children and has a brutal and violent climax, but it teaches an important lesson about being at peace with one's decisions and growing up between cultures. On top of everything,the movie has a great soundtrack, with both English and Pakistani songs from the period and touches on significant historical events such as the rise of immigrant-basher Enoch Powell and the Bangladeshi war that may not be familiar to American audiences. All in all, it's an edgy, funny movie that will leave you crying with laughter and wishing it was an hour longer. If you were a fan of Zadie Smith's novel "White Teeth", you will probably like this.
on June 5, 2001
This movie was entertaining and funny, and the acting was good, but it needs to give a balanced portrayal of Pakistanis and Islam in general. The obvious reason for this movie in not being balanced is that the film maker was a white British guy and not a Pakistani/Muslim. I don't mean to sound racist but Islam and Muslims have such a bad image in the Western media. Many westerners will get this idea that they know about Islam just by watching this movie apart from anything else. With respect to the movie it should have developed Muneer's(the practicing Muslim who was calm and gentle)character a little bit more and show the contrast between himself and his father George Khan-the Western stereotype of the Muslim-violent,intolerant,and tyrannical. There is a tendency among Westerners to think that if a Muslim looses his temper it has something to do with Islam; would they apply the same stereotype to a Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Wiccan,etc.? Most likely not, despite the fact you have bad tempered people in all religions-but the Western mind is conditioned this way to the point of being hypocritical. Having read many of the customer reviews I found that mostly Pakistani or broadly Muslim people criticizing it as opposed to White or broadly NonMuslim doing the same thing. Apart from the characterization of Muneer, the movie should have broadened on George's statement to Tariq about Islam being an egalitarian religion-in otherwords show the contrast between theory and practice and the varying degrees of Muslimness and Pakistaniness. It should also give greater emphasis to those scenes where Earnest,the white kid, always greeted the Khan family with "Assalaam Allaikoom"(peace be onto you) despite the fact that he lived with a racist grandfather. This would have made a more powerful statement against racism. With respect to these scenes, I found Earnest's naive innocence and tolerant character quite charming. On a lighter note, I fealt some identification with Abdul(being a South Asian Muslim myself) in the sense of being caught between two worlds-first shunning alcohol and night clubs but later tries to experiment with it. To put in a nutshell, there should be depictions of Muslims in absolute greys rather than in black and white.
on May 14, 2001
Inspired performances highlight this "culture-clash" comedy-drama that vascillates (a bit uncomfortably at times) between "Nil By Mouth" and "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner". First time director Damien O'Donnell appears to have gone to the Mike Leigh school, displaying a similar gift for very believable and affecting character development. Om Puri (largely unknown to Western audiences but a highly respected international actor) is superb as the harried patriarch of a Pakistani-English family in 1971 Manchester. Linda Bassett also shines as his English wife. The youngest son steals every scene he's in- with his ubiquitous hooded parka and a penchant for consistently bad timing, he comes off like a real-life "Kenny" from "South Park". Be cautioned: while there are a lot of chuckles here, there are also realistic depictions of domestic violence that some might find unsettling; however it is important to the story's arc. A very rewarding film.
on March 28, 2001
What begins as a lighthearted and whimsical examination of the cultural differences between East and West escalates into a very serious and often dark study of the negative ramifications those irreconcilable differences can cause when strictly observed by those who lose track of the impact on those they love.
Om Puri is magnificent as Muslim George Khan, the traditional father of a very untraditional group of seven children, the offspring of his marriage with British wife Ella, played by Linda Bassett. Born and raised in England, his six sons and one daughter have grown to enjoy the high degree of cultural freedom not present in Pakistan. When George senses that he is losing the control of his family that he once enjoyed, he becomes an intransigent martinet and inadvertently manages to alienate them all.
Built on the foundation of quaint humor, the dramatic frissons, when they come, are stunning. And there's never a false note, as confident newcomer Damien O'Donnell directs Ayub Khan-Din's story with aplomb, a story which is partially autobiographical and based on Khan-Din's own play of the same name.
on January 4, 2001
Although the film flip-flops and completely loses it's delicate balance right before it concludes, there is enough that is absolutely right to recommend this autobiographical look at a working class Muslim family in Manchester, England. The humor is warm and genuine, and the inevitable brutality we uncomfortably witness is believable. The acting is first rate with a couple of marvelous stand out performances.
East is East is set near Manchester in 1971. We meet George Khan (wonderfully played by Om Puri- who played a similar role in the better; My Son the Fanatic) who has one daughter and six sons, runs a fish and chips shop, and tries to control the lives of everyone in his family according to strict Muslim codes of behavior. Since he's also trying to be a good Muslim, good businessman, good father and keep up with current events involving the India-Pakistan war, he is not in touch with the details of his children's lives. In fact he doesn't even realize that his youngest son was never circumcised as is a Muslim tradition. He is also trying to be a good husband for the English woman he loves. Yes, his children are mixed, they are English and Pakistan.
George's children see him as a hypocritical tyrant who screams orders to his family about the proper way to dress, the need to attend Muslim religious school, the necessity of arranged marriages which he himself has turned his back on, since he has left the first Mrs. Khan back in Pakistan. It's is the Muslim way of things and arranged marriages is how it must be done and George's offspring should not ask questions of how he married their English mom, but get in line and do as they are told.
How the family relates to each other is captured well in the opening scene which shows his children naughtily joining a parade of Catholics, while their Mom, Ella (in a powerfully effective performance from Linda Basset), distracts their father George just enough so they can get away with their playful ruse.
In an early scene, George's eldest son runs from the alter just prior to wedding a young Pakistan girl in an arranged meeting. He flees the alter and the family. Later it's matter-of-factly revealed he's gay and part of a very successful high fashion shop (hats I believe). To George this son has not just rejected the arranged marriage and become independent, but he has died.
The tone that is set is one where humor comes out of very real autobiographical vignettes that seem authentic and realistic. In fact the film is based on a stage play which has been adapted for the screen by the play write; Ayub Khan-Din. It's directed by a very confident and assured freshman director, Damien O'Donnel.
There are many themes that are woven throughout the film, the clash of traditions versus juvenille rebellion, the importance of family, the racism this family of Pakistani's face from even their neighbors, the sibling rivalries, the pursuit of one's dreams, the dangers of false pride, and the importance of love.
All of these things are well balanced through almost the entire film. The performances are all very strong. There is an extended sequence involving the youngest boys' need for a circumcision, which is played mostly for humor, but reveals again how dominating George Kahn and his insistence of being a good Muslim family truly is. There are subplots involving a neighborhood romance which strike just the right type of awkward tone. There are several comedic moments that arise from the family's living conditions. Three of the six sons share the same bed. There is no indoor toilet facilities so pee pots and cast iron tubs are still in use.
The film sharply turns to show us a brutal and disturbing scene. It's a scene that feels truthful and makes the film a lot more powerful than the almost light comedy it has been.
Unfortunately after the film becomes disturbing it then tries tries to quickly shift back to it's earlier lighter tone. This attempted shift feels all wrong and left me with many mixed feelings. If we are indeed being authentic, then the film-makers insisting on trying give the film a feel-good type of ending is utterly hypocritical and false. Perhaps the material was mercilessly cut, and several scenes exist on the cutting room floor ( or in the original theatrical play) that would have made the film play much better. Or perhaps the film-makers failed to realize just how much impact the bit of brutality we see really has. It's a pity because when the film tries to switch back it derails and loses it's slice of life honesty to become just another film that only partially lets us peak into the lives of people who are different, yet very much like we are.
I am glad however, that ultimately despite the flaws, and disappointing ending (where loose ends are left dangling everywhere) there is a deep lingering sense of the love and commitment that exists in a very strong, very unique marriage -George and Ella's.
East is East won the Alexander Korda award for Outstanding British Film at this year's British Academy Awards. It's almost ironic since George Kahn is based on writer Ayub Khan Din's father who worked as an extra not just on Dam Busters (which is mentioned in East is East) but also on one of Korda's films as well. Kahn had some problem with racism on the set until Korda sat with Kahn during his lunch breaks.