Salford, 1971 and Pakistani chip shop owner George Khan (Om Puri) lives with his white wife Ella (Linda Bassett) and their seven children. George wants to raise his children as devout Muslims, but things go wrong when his eldest son Nazir (Ian Aspinall) flees his arranged marriage midway through the ceremony. Undeterred, George plans a marriage for his son Tariq (Jimi Mistry), but when Tariq discovers what is happening he rebels against his father, and the future of the family is plunged into doubt.
A surprise hit internationally, Damien O'Donnell's feature debut is a warm, richly funny portrait of the cultural and emotional collisions of a multiracial family in 1971 Salford, where curry meets fish-and-chips and the threat of a spacehopper lurks around every corner. Adapted by Ayub Khan-Din from his own stage play, the film centres on Pakistani immigrant George Khan (huge Bollywood star Om Puri) still deeply attached to the moral and political mores of his homeland, but married to Englishwoman Ella (Linda Bassett). Despite her protestations, Khan is adamant their six sons and daughter, raised to respect traditional Muslim values, must enter into arranged marriages. Meanwhile, the children are more intent on pursuing the secret pleasures of interracial dating, bacon sandwiches and midnight forays to the nearest club.
O'Donnell's direction fully exploits the often bawdy humour in the family's everyday struggles, while bringing an unexpected emotional punch to the scenes of violent confrontation which erupt as Khan becomes ever more dictatorial. The film also maintains comic momentum and dramatic intensity throughout thanks to excellent performances by Puri, Bassett and the remaining cast, including soap stars Chris Bisson (Coronation Street) and Jimi Mistry (EastEnders). Against a backdrop of 1970s pop culture, the many highlights include an oversexed dog and a giant sculpted pudenda.
Set in the early 1970s, East Is East follows the lives of a Pakistani-English family living in Northern England. George Khan (Om Puri), a proud Pakistani immigrant, and his British wife, Ella (Linda Bassett), run a fish and chip shop, while raising their seven children. George is determined to honor Pakistani tradition by arranging marriages for each of the children, whether they like it or not. When the Khan kids--including the nightclubbing Tariq (Jimi Mistry), the artsy Saleem (Chris Bisson), and the shy, parka-wearing Sajid (Jordan Routledge)--begin to rebel against their forceful father, their mother also joins the household mutiny. The family's conflict hits its peak during an awkward nuptial meeting with the snobby Shahs and their two unappealing daughters, and the results are rather surprising. With his first feature film, director Damien O'Donnell convincingly recreates the 1970s setting and carefully avoids glossing over the Khan family's difficulties. Puri and Bassett are excellent as the well-meaning parents, while Routledge is particularly charming as the reclusive youngest son. A quirky comedy that doesn't shy away from tense drama, East is East is a truly unique film.--This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.