East is East is a 1999 film about an interracial family set in Salford, England, in 1971. Some two decades before the start of the film, George Khan, played by Om Puri moved to England seeking better prospects and married an Englishwoman, Ella, played by Linda Bassett, who had a part in Kinky Boots, an English film I liked a lot. This movie is about Khan’s relationship with his family now that his seven children are growing up.

The movie begins with the oldest son’s marriage, a ceremony that goes awry when the groom refuses to go through with it and runs out of the building. As this comedy’s plot unfolds, we learn that George is attempting to force his family into observing increasingly strict Muslim religious practices. Most of the children resist.

 

This picture of six of the Khan children and two of their girlfriends says it all: these children are British, not Pakistani. They wear English clothing, refuse to learn Urdu or study the Koran, and date English girls rather than Pakistani ones.

At the heart of this movie is George’s hypocrisy: he expects his sons to marry according to Islamic traditions, which include arranged marriages with women the sons have never met, despite the fact that he left Pakistan and found love with an Englishwoman. Members of the Anglo-Pakistani community now judge him for his family’s westernization, and he increasingly attempts to force them to adopt the traditions that they find foreign and antiquated.

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