Sunday 24 September 2017

Movies: West is West ***

(15A, GENERAL RELEASE)

Paul Whitington

West is West is a direct descendant of the 1999 British film East is East, itself based on a play by Ayub Khan-Din. Mr Khan-Din was raised in 70s Salford by an English mother and a Pakistani father, and both East is East and this film are directly based on his experiences.

Sajid Khan (Aqib Khan) is the spirited youngest son of George (Om Puri) and Ella Khan (Linda Bassett). His parents run a chip shop in 70s Salford.

When Sajid gets caught stealing from a shop and then calls his dad a "Paki", George decides to bring him to the old country to show him his Pakistani heritage. George left his native Punjab in the 40s, leaving behind a first wife and several daughters.

And while he mollified his guilt by constantly sending back money, he is confronted on his return by the suffering he has caused. Sajid, meanwhile, is hostile to everything in this hot and alien environment until he is befriended by a local boy his own age, who introduces him to a very wise man.

Directed by Andy De Emmony, West is West treads similar territory to East is East. But the conflict between first and second generation British-Pakistanis is a rich subject, and, after a slow start, West is West turns out to be a moving, touching and entertaining drama.

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