By Belinda Affat
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West is West

This article is over 11 years, 6 months old
Director: Andy DeEmmony, Release date: 25 February
Issue 355

This long awaited sequel to East is East, set five years after the original, rejoins members of the dysfunctional Khan family.

The youngest child, Sajid (Aqib Khan), has finally removed his trademark Parka jacket. As a consequence of racist bullying, he spends as little time as possible at school and prefers roaming the streets of Manchester doing an occasional bit of shoplifting. This leads to him being arrested, much to the upset and shame of his father, George (Om Puri). George believes Sajid needs discipline and decides to achieve this by taking him to spend a month with family in rural Pakistan.

Sajid doesn’t speak Punjabi and wants to stick two fingers up at the country he doesn’t know. However, despite initial resistance, he begins to accustom himself to his surroundings and makes some local friends. We are reacquainted with Sajid’s older brother, Maneer (Emil Marwa), who is in Pakistan hoping to find a wife. This proves difficult as many families believe the Khans have moved too far from their traditions. So Maneer spends his time listening to the songs of Nana Mouskouri, with whom he has an unhealthy obsession.

The story evolves when George is forced to confront the life he left behind, including the wife and daughters he neglected 30 years earlier. His conscience pulls him to stay longer and to help build a new home for the women. The most touching scenes are between George’s first and second wives, who do not speak the same language but learn to understand each other.

Although the film deals with culture clash issues, the characters find that the journey to Pakistan is not as great as the personal journeys they make.

Many people choose to discover their roots or return to their place of birth after long periods of time (I personally returned to Canvey Island after nearly 30 years away) only to discover that either the place or the visitor has changed.

While the film has stepped away from the frequent obvious jokes of East is East, it maintains its humour. West is West is not as mainstream as its predecessor, but it has matured healthily with its characters.

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