|By Mira Harber
In 1971 a cultural revolution wasn't just taking place in America - think
of Carnaby Street & Oxford Circus, bellbottoms and wild fashion, and
you've got the right country for East is East, only the action
takes place in Manchester and most of the players are Anglo-Pakistani.
We are invited into the lives of George and Ella Khan and their seven children.
As the film begins, the patriach of the family watches proudly as his eldest
son goes through the elaborate preparations and then to the mosque to take
part in an arranged marriage. This is the first time the groom will meet
and see his bride. Even though she is quite pretty, once the veil is lifted
and the ceremony is about to begin, the eldest son bolts crying, "I can't
do this." So begins our voyage into the lives of the Khan family.
The father (played by the masterful Om Puri) is a domineering, blustering
old-school kind of man who, although himself married to an Englishwoman,
wants all of his children to observe the customs and religions of his homeland,
There's a lot of humor amidst the very true to life struggles of all the
members of this large family. The youngest son is always in his parka (regardless
of the weather) and in the rush of such a large family, it escaped attention
until now that he was somehow uncircumsized. This situation, in the eyes
of the father must of course, be rectified, and it is, despite objections
to the contrary. Another son is in art school and we don't get to see his
'creation' until the end of the film, which is quite a hilarious shocker,
and the only reason that I can figure why the film got an R rating.
Of the three remaining sons, one is the neighborhood Don Juan, another
the completely dutiful son, and yet another son is shy and completely caught
between the two worlds. There is one teenaged daughter who watches everything
This film deals with the subjects of assimilation and religion, family
ties and tensions, inter-racial politics and romance, touches us deeply
and still manages to make us laugh.
The relationship between the husband and wife, who have been married 25
years, and work side by side in their own neighbourhood fish & chip
shop is the glue that holds this family together. The long suffering mother
(Linda Bassett) is wonderful as she tries to respect her marriage vows,
yet understand, protect and encourage her children to find their way in
I would highly recommend seeing this film (Dipson theaters). It remains
with you for days after seeing it - and that's a good recommendation in
itself. Go see some wonderful acting in a meaty story.