East Is East

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"A comedy of families, a chip shop... and a very randy dog."
  • R
  • 1999
  • 1 hr 36 min
  • 6.9  (19,974)
  • 74

East Is East is a British comedy-drama film released in 1999, directed by Damien O’Donnell and written by Ayub Khan-Din. The movie revolves around a Pakistani family living in Salford, Manchester in the 1970s, and their struggles as they try to keep their Islamic and cultural heritage alive while also adapting to the British way of life.

The patriarch of the family, George Khan (Om Puri), is a strict and traditional man who owns a fish and chip shop while trying to raise his six children with his English wife Ella (Linda Bassett). The film follows the family’s day-to-day life, including the kids’ struggles with identity, their personal disagreements, and George’s constant conflicts with his children, especially his eldest son Nazir (Ian Aspinall), who has shunned his Pakistani heritage and converted to Christianity.

The film begins with the family preparing for the wedding of their oldest son Nazir to a Pakistani girl in a traditional Islamic ceremony. However, things take an unexpected turn when Nazir runs away from the wedding, and George decides to disown him for abandoning his familial and religious duties. The remaining siblings are outraged by their father’s actions, and they begin to act out against his rules, which include attending mosque, wearing traditional clothing, and praying five times a day.

The struggle of second-generation British Asians and their attempt to balance their parents' traditions with their own individual identities is the central theme of the movie. One example is the character of Tariq (Jimi Mistry), who struggles to come out to his family as gay, knowing that he will not be accepted due to his religious and cultural background. Another example is the character of Meenah (Archie Panjabi), who desires to marry outside of her culture and religion, but is constantly reminded of her family’s expectations.

The film is not only about cultural conflicts but also a reflection of the racism and prejudice faced by South Asians living in the UK at the time. Issues like discrimination in the workplace, police brutality, and the far-right groups’ increasing influence in society are all brought up in some form.

One of the highlights of the movie is the performances of the actors portraying the Khan family. Om Puri is exceptional as George, portraying his love for his family while also being stuck in his old ways. Linda Bassett’s portrayal of Ella, a homely and loving mother, is also praiseworthy. The young actors playing the six siblings - Jordan Routledge, Emil Marwa, Chris Bisson, Raji James, Jimi Mistry, and Archie Panjabi - deliver impressive performances, providing a realistic portrayal of the struggles faced by second-generation immigrants trying to find an identity in a foreign land.

The film’s setting, including the locations and costumes, is also noteworthy, contributing to the authenticity of the depiction of the 1970s era in the UK. The music - a blend of traditional Pakistani music and English rock - is also a highlight, adding an extra layer to the film’s socio-cultural message.

East Is East was a critically acclaimed movie, and won the Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film at the 1999 BAFTA Awards. Its success led to a sequel, West Is West (2010), also directed by O’Donnell, exploring the second-generation Khan family’s trip to Pakistan.

In conclusion, East Is East is a culturally significant movie capturing the struggles of Asian immigrants in a new culture, and the conflict between tradition and modernity. With an excellent cast, authentic setting, and striking narrative, it remains a memorable and impactful film.

East Is East is a 1999 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 36 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.9 and a MetaScore of 74.

East Is East
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 36 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.9  (19,974)
  • Metascore