We pick things up with the Khan family, about five years on from where we last saw them in Salford. But this time they go further afield than Bradford, as authoritarian patriarch George (Om Puri) takes his reluctant youngest son Sajid (Aqib Khan) to Pakistan to teach him discipline and reforge links with his estranged relatives.
East is East plays off George’s traditional Pakistani parenting against his childrens’ complete Anglicisation. This time his eldest six children have moved on, leaving the focus on youngster Sajid. Made ten years later, but only five years later in the film’s chronology, Sajid has been recast, but luckily they managed to find an actor with the same voice, appearance and mannerisms as the original. Either that or he’s secretly played by Idris Elba.
The plot here is more cinematic, as the characters go on a journey of self discovery which is a break from the drama of daily life found in the original. The slimming down of the family makes this a less energetic film, as none of the new characters from George’s Pakistani family measure up. It also lacks the smoothness of the original, as it tries harder to find a compelling plot, losing its way slightly when Sajid is taught valuable life lessons from an elderly, bearded cliché.
It works, however, thanks to the strength of these outstandingly written characters and the expert performances on display. Om Puri once again manages to inject comedy into a character who could simply be brutal, and Linda Bassett is fantastic as his long-suffering English wife Ella. West is West takes its culture clash themes and transports them to Pakistan. As a result it’s a very different film, but one that works well on its own terms. Crucially it does justice to the characters, and packs in laughs and drama aplenty.