East is East (1999)

Directed by
Damien O'Donnell

This Bafta-award winning culture-clash comedy is a masterful balance of humour and pathos. Directed by Damien O'Donnell and released in 1999, it's set in early 1970s Salford and focuses on Moslem chip-shop owner George Khan (Om Puri), the architect of his family's dilemma.

Khan married Ella (Linda Bassett), an English woman, and fathered seven children, ranging from the devout Maneer (Emil Marwa) to the wayward Tariq (Jimi Mistry). But the family swerves precariously between David Bowie and the dowry, until George decides to take charge. Disowning a son who refuses an arranged marriage, he decides that Tariq and his brother Abdul (Raji James) will marry, sight unseen, the twin daughters of a Bradford businessman.

The Khans' youngest, Sajid (Jordan Routledge) unearths the secret. His sister Meenah (Archie Panjabi) also finds out, and the clan conspire to support the values of a normal British life: bacon, Space Hoppers and vaguely-disturbing anatomical sculptures...

O'Donnell's debut is an astonishingly accomplished work, balancing high comedy, visual flair and character depth more profound than the original, semi-autobiographical stage play.

The diverse supporting cast are equally faultless: the parka-clad Routledge is a joy, with great comic support from Emma Rydal and Ruth Jones, but the film is never satisfied with the simple conceit of white stooges, and grasps for a deeper significance, reached in a single scene, charting George's violent temper.

As the bruises rise, the family watch in silence as The Clangers - another set of mysterious, rootless aliens - wander their own lonely planet. Such genius merits rewards, and East Is East received two: £10 million in domestic receipts, and a place at the top of FilmFour's list of all-time hits.

Written by

Genre: Film

Running Time: 96 minutes (approx)

Production Year: 1999

3/5 Stars

Classification: 15 Certificate

Production Country: UK

Filmed in Colour


Image for Om PuriOm Puri...George Khan
Image for Linda BassettLinda Bassett...Ella Khan
Image for Jordan RoutledgeJordan Routledge...Sajid Khan
Image for Archie PanjabiArchie Panjabi...Meenah Khan
Image for Emil MarwaEmil Marwa...Maneer Khan
Chris Bisson...Saleem Khan
Image for Jimi MistryJimi Mistry...Tariq Khan
Image for Raji JamesRaji James...Abdul Khan
Ian Aspinall...Nazir Khan
Lesley Nicol...Auntie Annie
Image for Emma RydalEmma Rydal...Stella Moorhouse
Image for Ruth JonesRuth Jones...Peggy
Ben Keaton...Priest
Kriss Dosanjh...Poppa Khalid
Image for John BardonJohn Bardon...Mr. Moorhouse