Director: Andy DeEmmony
Screenplay: Ayub Khan-Din
Producers: Shaana Diya, Kim Romer, Leslee Udwin & Jane Wright
Starring: Aqib Khan, Om Puri, Linda Bassett
BBFC Certification: 15
Duration: 103 minutes
I’ve just watched the sequel to the Bafta winning East is East and I’m surprised to find it’s nearly 12 years now since the original film was first released. It doesn’t seem that long ago maybe because it was one of those films that stays with you, funny, poignant, memorable and yet watch-able over and over, and not many films get to be all those things. So having said that maybe it’s only to be expected that the sequel is more of a tying up of loose ends than a fresh new story in itself. As with many sequels, it’s not a patch on the original.
It’s 5 years after the end of the original drama and all the Khan children have grown up and moved away. All except the runt of the family little Sajid (played this time by newcomer Aqib Khan) But Sajid is not so little any more and has to struggle with bullies at high school while he continues to deal with his unconventional family situation and his father’s bad temper. With the excuse that the boy needs discipline George takes him off to Pakistan for an extended holiday when he’s called over to help older son, Maneer find a wife. At heart though George is desperate for respect from his son and for him to appreciate his Pakistani roots.
You’ll remember Maneer from the first film as the geeky religious brother, the butt of others’ jokes. A few years on he’s weathered nicely and seems a lot more down to earth. He’s still hopeless at meeting women but he’s finally learning to stand up to his father and is altogether a more likeable character.
To begin with Sajid greets Pakistan like you’d expect, for a boy who’s hardly been out of Salford, and he can’t tell enough people to F-off. Meanwhile George is having to face the wife and children he left behind over 30 years previously. We’re treated to plenty of pretty landscapes and warm colourful sunsets that seem very inviting during February in Britain and it’s refreshing to see a Pakistan depicted without violence & politics. The acting is superb, Om Puri is as faultless as the original and it’s hard to believe that Aqib Khan is not the same actor who appeared in the original film the character likeness is so great. Linda Bassett as Sajid’s mother is also as consistent as if this film was made straight after the first one.
However, the plot seems to lack emphasis somehow and I found myself wondering just whose story it really was, Sajid’s or George’s? The story jumps between one issue and another and often moves on in leaps and bounds missing out moments that are surely emotionally significant such as Maneer seeing his father and brother again for the first time in a year. The tying up of loose ends for George which dominates the plot leaves very little room for a powerful new story for Sajid and what we get instead is a horribly cliched sequence with a long haired sage whose mystical charms somehow turn Sajid into the boy he’s meant to be.
Although the film was obviously also written by author of the original Ayub Khan-Din West is West has a different director to its prequel and this may be its downfall. Go and see this film if you’re a true fan of the original and want to know what happens to the Khan family next. In fact go and see it anyway it’s well acted and genuinely funny throughout. Just bare in mind – it is a sequel