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|July 8, 2000||
Don't miss this movie!
East is East. West is West. The twain meet. In fact, they not only meet, but mingle and mate too. And a movie is born. Director Damien O'Donnell's hilarious directorial debut -- a raucous comedy with depth and attitude -- deals with the pros and cons of living in a multicultural world.
Now, riding the wave of its recent coronation as the Best Film by the London Film Critics Circle and six British Academy Award nominations including both Best British Film and Best Picture of the year, the film comes to India.
George Khan (Om Puri) is a Pakistani expatriate who runs a greasy fish-and-chips joint at Salford. Despite his marriage to an Englishwoman (Linda Bassett) he lives, breathes and preaches the values of his old country to his considerable number of children, six sons and a daughter. Who, in turn, valiantly endeavour to circumvent the traditional and austere Muslim upbringing their father thrusts on them.
Their quest for the good things in life leads to one big game of dodge ball where they cleverly and humorously avoid their father's restrictions at every turn. This generational comedy turns ominous when Puri's chauvinistic behaviour exacts a toll on his family. The conflict that he creates in his external surroundings is a reflection of the chaos and confusion he feels within.
Gritty, funny, this film hits hard and never lets up. Om Puri's performance may be summed up in one word -- brilliant. He is funny, tragic, stubborn, contrite, opinionated, bewildered and lovable by turns and, above all, he is human. He fits into the garb of a Pakistani torn between two cultures with enviable ease and aplomb.
Linda Bassett, as the English wife to a Muslim man, who is caught between her loyalty to her husband and the right of her children to happiness and freedom, competently matches Puri's histrionics.
Each character is finely etched on this multiracial canvas to lend a witty, albeit poignant, tone to the movie. However, the real star of East Is East is undoubtedly the sharply entertaining screenplay by Ayub Khan-Din, who adapted it from his semi-autobiographical play of the same name. Director Damien O'Donnell uses comical overtones to bring out the underlying pathos of a family struggling to seek its identity with able dexterity and skill.
East Is East is at most times funny, sometimes sad, but at all times real and enormously entertaining. It is a film that is definitely worth viewing.
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