The long anticipated and hoped for sequel of the 1999 box office
success 'East is East' was released by Icon Home Entertainment on 20
The film with the wish of Aybu Khan-Din is written not so much as a
sequel but as a stand-alone film in its own right, and for the most
part it proves a successful follow-up to the film that won a Bafta for
Outstanding British Film. The cast return en masse (although Jimi
Mistry fans will feel slightly short changed).
The original film was ground breaking in that it brought subject matter
previously unheralded to the big screen; inter-racial marriage set
against the backdrop of 1970s working class Salford,Manchester with all
its contexts of class and social status. The idea of a white
woman marrying a Pakistani and the hatred that such things may incite
were addressed, but the violence is reserved for the cold hand of
George Khan (Om Puri) who beats up his wife in the back office of their
chip shop. Whilst played and marketed for laughs, the original
did have its darker moments.
'West is West' focuses on Sajid (Aqib Khan - in his first role), the
youngest son, who is rebellious playing truant from school and avoiding
bullies who berate him as a 'Paki' thus causing worries about his
identiy and reluctance to accept his mixed heritage and hating his
father. The need for discipline and restraint in the young
tearaway leads George to take him to his homeland in Pakistan to the
family home he abandoned 30 years previously to marry Ella (Linda
Mostly played for laughs, but asking genuine questions about identity
and belonging not just to your race but your family home; the film has
these major questions but has a lovely parallel narrative surrounding
Nemar (the middle son) and his quest for a wife. This narrative garners
the most laughs as the bride he chooses proves to be more than meets
the eye. Sajid and George's narrative journeys are directed with
a humility and subtlety which is with thanks to the direction of Andy
de Emmony, who has a long track record in television drama, and this
comes to the fore in his feature length debut effort.
Beautifully shot by Peter Robinson, again making Pakistan (though the
film was shot in Indian Punjab for insurance purposes) look as
beautiful as Chris Menges did for 'Slumdog' and it is this debt to that
Oscar winning film that gives this film not a rose-tinted view of the
world, but a serious enough tone to go in balance with the humour that
comes from Sajid's escapades as a hermit attempts to teach him lessons
about life by stating the obvious and making the youngster discover it
Great performances by all concerned, most notably Aqid Khan who with no
training instills Sajid with a bit of Malcolm McDowell mixed with Alex
Turner, giving poetry to such profanity he sometimes spouts and Ila
Arun, as Basheera Khan, the first wife who shows the vulnerability of
her husband's abandonment in her aged face; though talking only Punjab
she instills the character with such grandeur and poise it is striking
and the scene with her and the second Mrs. Khan are startling.
Khan-Din (and the producer, Leslie Unwin) gets the wish of having the
film stand on its own, and though it might not garner the same box
office and clamour as its predecessor did it still deserves credit for
being a work of supreme technical accomplishment and maturity. A
straight drama with comedic appeal in this day and age of hook and
There may be a third film to complete the trifecta, possibly following
Sajid's attempts to get married himself - maybe this will be played for
laughs; but as long as this cast remains the same, there remains the
key to its ever growing appeal.
Distributed by Icon Home Productions for £17.99 RRP on both DVD
Andy de Emmony Q&A
1. What firstly drew you to the film?
I loved 'East is East', and found it quite daunting but on this
occasion you get a more three dimensional character of George and it
serves as a bookend to the first film. Ayub wanted to complete after
the first film and it felt fresh even though it is the same family but
on a different journey.
do you remember of the original, 'East is East'?
I remember being drawn to the family aspect, and that generational gap
within a family and where do you fit in. But also the use of
comedy as a release valve for the emotion present.
3. What was your working relationship with Ayub Khan Din?
We had a very good working relationship with Ayub, they came to me to
collaborate after Damien O'Donnell did not chose to be involved.
And in spite of the autobiographical content he did not see it as a
biopic, and instead lets just make the film work which gave us a lot of
4. What were the pros and cons of shooting in a foreign country?
I found it quite daunting to work in India, but a pro was the
manpower which allowed you flexibility (The house built by George in
the film was built in 5 days by this manpower) and the long days
allowed us to shoot longer in the days in comparison to England.
A pro would be the language barrier, as about 20% of the script is in
Punjab and in the end it came down to reading looks of actors, and even
some of the actors who spoke Punjab in the film had to have voice
coaches for certain scenes.
5.What happened to Jimi Mistry's role? And were you impressed by the
debutant Aqib Khan?
Jimi Mistry's role was written bigger, but the focus was on Sajid the
youngest, his story and journey. And Aqib was brilliant, he had a
temperament that fitted the character and he was helped by the
components and good actors we put around him.
6. Is there going to be a third film?
The producer, Leslee Udwin, has always seen the film as a possible
trilogy and there is a proposal in place if people connect to this film
like they did 'East is East'
7. How do you react to criticism of the film being 'quaint' or 'too
much like a sitcom'.
I think when you make a film about a family it is hard to contain it
and I hope the audience can reconnect and new audiences connect with
these characters and laugh with them. I felt if we had made a
sweeping political statement about Pakistan, the family story and
emotional bond would have been lost in the mix.
8. What have you been up to recently and what is next?
I have been shooting commercials in Australia, but we are waiting for
funding [like most people in Britain] for a film written by William
Boyd ('Chaplin', 'Any Human Heart') called 'The Galapagos Affair',
based on John Treherne's novel, which we hope we start shooting soon.