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Review Of A Production Of East Is East

1470 words - 6 pages

Review of a Production of East Is East

It must be strange being an immigrant, uprooting to another country in
the sure knowledge that you'll never fit in like a native-born
citizen. Having thrown yourself into this voyage, inexorably as a
continent you gradually drift away from your birthplace. In essence
your destiny is to become stateless, no matter how dutifully one
assimilates within the novel culture. Infants luckily appear more
resilient to these changes, absorbing them, while the adults around
them encounter internal barriers, as if their die is cast. Small
wonder that first-generation settlers often cling to childhood
teachings, solidity in a world of uncertainty.

East Is East presents Om Puri as a conservative Muslim immigrant
father in England. In this masterly portrayal, he is in constant
conflict with his mixed-race children, seven of them, born to his
liberal English wife, admirably played by Linda Bassett. The intense
family-drama is rendered as a thoroughly entertaining and farcical
comedy. Adapted from an autobiographical stage-play by Ayub Khan-Din.

It is the early 1970's, George Khan (Om Puri)is a man who is proud of
his Pakistani heritage. He moved to Salford near Manchester where he
married a local woman, Ella (Linda Bassett), had seven children and
opened a chip shop. George demands to be seen as the head of the
family and rules them with a rod of iron, as he wants them to be as
respectable and as proud of their race as he is. There is one flaw in
his master plan.... he is a hypocritical bully, and his children are
rebelling against his regime one by one. They are sick of being
cramped in their small terraced house, which could hardly be described
as having all mod cons, and have found their own individual ways to
get under their fathers skin.

What brings it all together for East Is East is superior acting by
every single cast member. From the start they move as one body,
moderating emotional pitch in synchronisation, just like a real
family. George is no monster, merely a stubborn father reacting to
circumstance by retreating into authoritarian tradition.

George dreams that his adopted home offers opportunities unavailable
elsewhere, but proves reluctant to allow his progeny the chance to
make their own mistakes. George thinks that he wants respect, when
he's really asking for submission before his vision of a true
Pakistani. The kids can only attempt to draw the best from multiple
cultures, attaining a personal balance while avoiding their father's
provoked wrath. Against a background of Enoch Powell and subtle
prejudice (even against other subcontinent immigrants), they're
treading a delicate line.

Linda Bassett as superb as Puri's second wife, an English woman who
straddles both camps between her husband's traditionalism and her
kids'...

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