Adapted by Ayub Khan-Din from his play, East Is East is the story of a British-Asian family in 1970s Salford.
Om Puri plays fanatical patriarch George Khan – or Genghis to his 7 kids. Growing increasingly secularised (not to mention anglicised), they sneak off to discos, secretly eat bacon and kiss future Hollyoaks actresses.
As a dramatisation of the British-Asian experience, the film is close to My Beautiful Laundrette or My Son the Fanatic, in which Puri also starred; this is essentially My Dad the Fanatic. But this 1999 comedy has the edge in terms of its great sense of humour.
It’s wonderfully written, playing with brilliant swearing as much as cultural identity – and circumcision humour this funny is rare indeed. There’s a spirited sense of youthful rebellion, as the religious orthodoxy of one generation is challenged by the next.
The film is grounded in naturalism and believable characters, warmly played by the talented ensemble, which includes Raji James (who used to be on Eastenders but ruined it), Linda Bassett as the English mother and Ruth Jones in her trademark Fat Best Friend role.
Affectionate, compassionate and painfully funny, East Is East is a modern(ish) classic – and a richly textured rendering of northern England circa 1971; all space-hoppers and parkas and horrid wallpaper.