Manchester in 1971 is not the ideal time and place to raise a proper Pakistani family. But George Khan (Om Puri), father of seven unruly moppets and husband to a willful British wife (Linda Bassett), is determined to wield... more » his influence over his clan. But what a clan this is, with Nazir (Ian Aspinall), who refuses his arranged wife; Saleem (Chris Bisson) who creates--shall we say controversial?--works of art; Tariq (Jimi Mistry), the mod boy who lives for discos and English girls; Meenah (Archie Panjabi), the only girl and tomboy extraordinaire; and Sajid (Jordan Routledge), who lives in a dirty fur-trimmed parka. Abdul (Raji James) and Maneer (Emil Marwa) stay more quietly in the background, although they lend their voices to the chorus of dissent against traditional ways. East Is East is Damien O'Donnell's directorial debut, and he nails the raucous tone from the opening scene, a church parade where the Pakistani children must do some deft maneuvering to avoid being seen by their Muslim father. At times such as these, the film is a straightforward comedy, and the children milk the cultural differences for every laugh they can. Yet the film takes a more somber turn when Saleem balks at his father's insistence on arranging Saleem's marriage. Puri is magnificent straddling the line between lovable father and brute enemy as he demands that the others obey his will, and his performance can be difficult to watch as he metamorphoses. Sympathies toward the characters shift throughout the film, highlighting the superb acting of the entire cast. Ultimately, though, humor wins out, making East Is East a tremendously fun film. --Jenny Brown« less
Nymphadora T. (Nymphadora) from GLENDALE, AZ Reviewed on 1/26/2009...
Let me start by saying that this film is terribly mislabeled as a comedy when it is, in fact, very much a drama. Yes, there are times when I laughed out loud but I chose this film because I was in the mood for a comedy. Had I been in the mood for a drama I am sure I would have scored the film much higher.
"East is East" is the story of a Pakistani father, Zahir Khan, his Caucasian British wife, Ella, and their seven children. The acting is superb, the writing is excellent, and the soundtrack is wonderful. Having said all of that, I do have a few issues with the film. (SPOILER ALERT) First, the oldest son, Nadir, just kind of disappears for a while without any explanation. Did he run away? Did he kill himself? Where did he go? We find out about halfway through the film when his father pronounces that he is dead. This leaves the viewer wondering how one could have missed such an important event, but a few minutes later we realize that Nadir is only dead to him. In fact, we discover, albeit something I guessed in the first ten minutes of the film, that Nadir is gay. This is all the more reason for his Pakistani father to call him dead.
My second issue with the film is that I really liked all of the characters, even the strict and traditional Zahir. Ella is charming the way she can talk him down from almost any argument with typical British humor mixed with a few choice swear words. The kids adore their mother and, although they disagree with him, they love their father. This led me to believe that the film was going to be a "Dad is a strict traditional man, kids and mom are not, so this is the story of how everyone changes Dad." (SPOILER ALERT) Unfortunately, the story became, "Dad is an abusive and closed-minded asshole and starts beating on anyone, including mom, who dares to defy him." I just don't understand why the story had to change this way. I left the film wishing Ella would leave her bastard husband and raise her kids on her own. We went from the tenderness of how Ella would ask Zahir if he would like some tea and he would reply, "just half a cup", to Zahir calling her a bloody bitch and giving her a black eye. Why?
My final issue with the film is the ending. (SPOILER ALERT) We are left with nothing changed in the family other than the children discovering that their father isn't just strict, he is cruel. I just feel incomplete after watching "East is East". I get that the Pakistani culture is very different from British culture and that, particularly in the 1970's, the west was not very open to accepting this new group of immigrants. What else came of this story? I don’t feel warm and fuzzy toward this culture if Zahir is a shining of example of how the men truly behave. Why did he choose to marry outside of his own culture if he hates it so much? Why raise children with a mother who is not Muslim and not from Pakistan if you are just going to teach them that it is unacceptable to marry anyone who is not from Pakistan? I feel like I got a glimpse of a very dysfunctional family who will never see a happy ending and that is just not why I choose to watch films. I watch films to learn something new, or to laugh, to perhaps cry a little, but overall, I watch films to have a few hours of enjoyment. I watch films to forget my own problems for a while. After watching this, I just feel like I would have been better off calling my own family back home and hearing about their issues and problems.
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A NICE LITTLE BRITISH NUMBER
HINNA | BIRMINGHAM, WEST MIDLANDS United Kingdom | 04/30/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Taking in over £10 million at the UK box office, its no wonder this DVD is all the hype. With extra features such as deleted scenes, interviews with the cast and crew, behind the scenes footage, theatrical trailer and TV spots it's worth having this DVD for these alone. Based on a semi- autobiographical play by writer Ayub Khan Din this award winning comedy gives us an insight into the Anglo- Asian clash in 1970's Salford. George Khan ( Om Puri) is a Pakistani immigrant who owns a chip shop and tries to force his seven English born children to follow the traditional Pakistani ways. This film is both funny and tragic as the harsh scenes of domestic violence are placed alongside British humour, which at times both are very stereo typical and do often portray the Asian culture in a bad light. Still with its tongue firmly in cheek 'East is East' is not one to be missed. One of the best comedies I have seen in ages. I can't remember the last time I laughed so much. Want to have a good laugh? Then click and order this one now!"
Bhanu Dhir | UK | 06/20/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Take one fiercely proud Pakistani, transport him to Manchester (England), get him married to a local and produce 7 kids!This is a fantastic movie and one of the best I have seen about family. In Om Puri's own words it is like Chaplin: humour with a message. The story of George Khan (magnificently played by Om Puri) his ambitions for his family (six boys and one girl) against the backdrop of the early 70s in Manchester. I must admit I was expecting slapstick, but this is really powerful stuff and captures the tensions within a family very well indeed. It is hilarious and there are some really deft touches that can only come from autobiography (the mock Hindi movie dancing at the back of the chip shop is one and the whole sequence around the arranged marriages is another.This film is not just about Asian families and it is not just about England in the 1970s (although the period and racial significance is very well captured). This is a wonderful film about unresolved family conflicts and expectations and should be seen by everyone, everywhere."
Not your average family flick
scifiwasabi | Long Island | 07/31/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Dan Balogh | New Jersey, USA | 03/28/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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."
An absolutely phenomonal work
atammal | Desoto, TX USA | 07/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I admit, I cried during this movie. It was difficult to watch the entire Khan family, all seven kids plus mom Ella and dad George, struggle with an identity that not only identified them as individuals, but as a family. It hits a chord not only with immigrant families, but all families. It relates the struggles of finding a balance between parental power and individual control. But despite all that mushy stuff, it's absolutely hilarious. Not only are the accents adorably amusing, the children remind you of what it was like to be young again and caught by your parents doing something you shouldn't have been. The opening scene lends to this as it follows the kids running through alleys so their father, a strict Muslim, doesn't see them marching in a Catholic parade. You can't help but laugh at their antics. The film is able to embrace both tradition and progress without becoming too boring. Definitely an A+!"