East Is East

April 14, 2000 0 By Fans
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L to R: Jimi Mistry, Emil Marwa (front), Raji James, and Chris Bisson star in


In 1971 Salford fish-and-chip shop owner George Khan expects his family to follow his strict Pakistani Muslim ways…

Release Year: 1999

Rating: 6.7/10 (9,979 voted)

Critic's Score: 74/100

Damien O'Donnell

Stars: Om Puri, Linda Bassett, Jordan Routledge

In 1971 Salford fish-and-chip shop owner George Khan expects his family to follow his strict Pakistani Muslim ways. But his children, with an English mother and having been born and brought up in Britain, increasingly see themselves as British and start to reject their father's rules on dress, food, religion, and living in general.

Writers: Ayub Khan-Din, Ayub Khan-Din


Om Puri

George Khan

Linda Bassett

Ella Khan

Jordan Routledge

Sajid Khan

Archie Panjabi

Meenah Khan

Emil Marwa

Maneer Khan

Chris Bisson

Saleem Khan

Jimi Mistry

Tariq Khan

Raji James

Abdul Khan

Ian Aspinall

Nazir Khan

Lesley Nicol

Auntie Annie

Emma Rydal

Stella Moorhouse

Ruth Jones


Ben Keaton


Kriss Dosanjh

Poppa Khalid

John Bardon

Mr. Moorhouse

Young, Free and soon not to be single


Official Website:
Atalanta Filmes (Portugal) |

Release Date: 14 April 2000

Filming Locations: Ealing Studios, Ealing, London, England, UK

Box Office Details

Budget: £1,900,000


Opening Weekend: £435,627
(7 November 1999)
(79 Screens)

Gross: $4,170,647
(10 September 2000)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?


The ages of the children are as follows: Nazir – 25, Abdul – 23, Tariq – 21, Maneer – 19, Saleem – 17, Meenah – 14 and Sajid – 11.


Meenah's sari (in the second to last scene) is not being consistently worn: it switches from showing most of her stomach, to none of her stomach.


[Abdul and Tariq approach a local nightclub]

All right, Tony, how ya goin' mate?

Tariq Khan:
All right, Bazza?

Yeah, good to see ya. All right, in ya go.

Tariq Khan:
Nice, mate.

[to Abdul]
Where do you think you're going, smiler?

Tariq Khan:
This is our kid, erm…

Abdul Khan:
Arthur, me name's Arthur.

User Review

low keyed comedy/drama


`East is East,' something of a modern day version of `Fiddler on the Roof,'
explores the culture clash that occurs in the context of a half
Pakistani/half British family living in early 1970's England. George Khan
is a Muslim who, upon immigrating to Great Britain in 1937, married a
British woman despite the fact that his first wife still lives in Pakistan.
Now, twenty five years later, the still happily married couple lives in a
small apartment with their daughter and six sons all of whom have been
raised to honor their father's religion and traditions. Yet, like Tevye,
George is suddenly confronted with the fact that, as times change and the
world moves on, the younger generation will no longer abide by the archaic
rituals of an ancient age. In many ways, this is the flip side of `Fiddler'
in that here the reluctant marriage partners are sons and not daughters.
For indeed, George's ultimate goal in life is to arrange marriages for his
teenaged sons within the accepted tradition of the Muslim faith. But
culture is often a force that parents try in vain to withstand and these
children, raised in the far more open and liberated society of `mod'
England, are not about to take such dictatorial parental control lying

In the script based on his play, Ayub Khan-Din provides an evenhanded and
comprehensive view of the situation. George is not presented to us as an
inflexible or unreasonable ogre, yet at the same time, he will, in his
frustration, strike out even physically at the children and the wife who
seem to oppose him. We sense the fear that runs through him that, if his
sons are allowed to exercise their freedom in this one crucial area, the
family will sever that connection with the past which brings stability to
their lives. Thus, without any traditions to anchor them, George dreads
that he and the family will be cut adrift in a seemingly rudderless world
that suddenly seems in the 1970's to be in such great and terrifying moral
flux. Moreover, we are left to ponder the strange contradiction between
George's own words and the choices he himself has made. After all, his
opting to marry a British woman who does not share the tenets of his faith
obviously went beyond the bounds of the very traditions he is now so
dogmatically insisting his sons uphold. This type of ambiguity within the
characters enhances their credibility, for indeed life and the people we
meet therein come replete with such maddening inconsistencies.

Khan-Din and director Damien O'Donnell establish an effective balance
between low-key humor and occasionally searing drama. The relationship
between the husband and wife who comprise this interracial marriage is
complexly realized and fully drawn; the obvious difficulties the two have
experienced as a result of the nonconformity of their union has obviously
strengthened their devotion to one another and they appear to greatly enjoy
each other's company. She has undoubtedly made any number of concessions
and compromises to her husband's belief system, yet she has retained her
British feistiness and knows how far to let George go before she draws the
line, especially when it comes to protecting the rights and happiness of her
own progeny. In a similar way, we see, in thorough detail, the
complexities that make up the two very different sets of relationships
between the respective parents and their children. Din and O'Donnell have,
wisely, chosen to limit the scope of their film by downplaying the broader
theme of how a suspicious and prejudiced society deals with so
unconventional a marriage and family. We see only bits and pieces of this
in the form of bigoted comments uttered by a disapproving neighbor and a
mere mention of a political rally intended to rouse the populace on the
issue of `repatriation.' Instead, the authors concentrate almost
exclusively on the internecine struggles taking place within this one
family. This helps to keep the scale of the film life-sized, thus
enhancing our identification with the characters and their universal
parent/child conflicts. For, in a way, the Khan family is really not
undergoing any crisis not already familiar to countless families the world
over, as parents cope with children eager to cut the filial chords and
establish life on their own terms and as children, likewise, deal with
parents who want to determine the course those lives will take. The Khans
just happen to provide a more heightened and intensified view of this

`East is East' is a small movie but an absorbing one. Thanks to uniformly
excellent performances from a gifted cast and a careful modulation between
humor and drama, the film emerges as a compelling and insightful glimpse
into a life that is, as for all of us, so full of both terrifying and
wonderful complexity.