A Taste Of The East: West Is West

A Taste Of The East: West Is West

Static Mass Rating: 5/5
WEST IS WEST (Blu-ray)
Icon Home Entertainment 

Release date: June 20th 2011
Certificate (UK): 15
Running time: 84 minutes

Director: Andy DeEmmony
Music: Robert Lane
Producer: Leslee Udwin
Writer: Ayub Khan-Din

Cast: Aqib Khan, Om Puri, Linda Bassett, Ila Arun, Emil Marwa, Jimi Mistry

Exclusive with Leslee Udwin
Interview Part 1
Interview Part 2
Interview Part 3

Something very strange happened to me while watching West Is West. To say it had a profound effect would be understating it greatly. You see, for the past 25 years I’ve happily gone about denying my Trinidadian/Indian heritage to the point where there was almost no trace of it anymore, no trace but for the colour of my skin and brown eyes.

But as I watched, a part of me began to realise that this was my family too and that I was relating to the story on a level I never imagined possible before.

West Is West

Even though this sequel comes 11 years after East Is East, the film’s writer, Ayub Khan-Din, has brought together something so deeply moving and universal that it doesn’t matter where you’re from or who you are because we all recognise the patriarchal figure of George “Ghengis” Khan (Om Puri), either in our own immediate families or further afield. This is the power of storytelling and it’s at its most visceral here.

Set in 1976, the youngest member of the Khan clan, Sajid (Aqib Khan), is now 13 years old and struggling with home and school life. He’s bullied and called “paki” by the other boys so he takes to skipping school which then leads to petty shoplifting. Naturally he gets caught and his mother Ella (Linda Bassett) and his father George are at their wits end.

West Is West

Thinking that a trip to Pakistan will straighten him out, George packs him off to the Punjab for a month to join his older brother Maneer (Emil Marwa) who’s there looking for a wife. Once they arrive Sajid meets his father’s first wife Basheera (Ila Arun), her two daughters and her son-in-law. At first he hates it, but during the course of the film something in him changes. The story is twin fold though; it’s not just Sajid’s journey but also George’s. Its here we see that both Khan’s are not that different from each other. They both struggle with their identities.

West Is West

Having abandoned his wife and children in Pakistan to live in England where he chose an English wife and began a new family, George now has to reconcile with his past and face up to the mistakes he’s made and the people he’s hurt. It’s beautifully played out and there are such touching moments that its just too hard not to be moved by them, for example when Basheera and Ella transcend the language barrier and find that although their lives are so different, there’s one thing bonding them together; loving this wretched man. I am not ashamed to say I cried my eyes out both during the movie and afterwards when I thought of my own mother and how much she’s put up with my father, that’s a place I’ve never eached before in my 32 years.

It might sound strange to say it, but after so long it’s taken a film to make me finally appreciate and understand something about my own family and my national identity. It’s not about the ground you’re born on, but the people you come from and for that I am indebted to the filmmakers for opening not only my eyes, but my heart to.


  • Audio Commentary
  • Cast & Crew Interviews (20.26)
  • Deleted Scenes and Outtakes (20.35)
  • Photo Gallery

Icon Home Entertainment’s Blu-ray release has as you would expect – excellent sound quality and picture presentation. The gloomy greys of Salford give way to the bursting richness of colours as soon as Sajid touches down in Pakistan and it looks great in HD. But there are lots of extras included too such as interviews with Andy DeEmmony, Leslee Udwin, Aqib Khan, Om Puri and Linda Bassett talking about how the film came together and what it was like working with each other. The deleted scenes and outtakes are wonderful to watch too. We see how many takes Aqib had to do for scenes like Sajid checking for elephant balls, being surprised by a cow and bathing in the river.

Usually I don’t think very much of photo galleries, but I enjoyed this one. 25 images from the making of the film are included.

West Is West

West Is West really touched me and since watching it the first time round I feel somewhat different. I am different. I can’t promise the same for you but I can tell you that it’s a great story with amazing performances and it’s what a sequel should be about; not just relying on the story that came before, but taking it to different places physically, emotionally and spiritually to tell something new about the characters (and ourselves) we thought we once knew and understood so well.

Leslee Udwin Interview Part 1 | Interview Part 2 | Interview Part 3

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