DVD: EAST IS EAST (hier online bestellen)

Darsteller: Om Puri, Linda Bassett, Jordan Routledge
Regisseur(e): Damien O'Donnell
Format: Dolby, PAL, Surround Sound
Sprache: Deutsch, Englisch
Region: Region 2
DVD Features:
Audio-Kommentar von von Damien O?Donnell
Filmographie: Linda Bassett, Om Puri, Jordan Routledge, Ayub
Geschnittene Szenen Hinter den Kulissen
Preis: 6,95 €

The story:
In 1971 Salford fish-and-chip shop owner George Khan expects his family to follow his strict Pakistani Muslim ways. But his children, with an English mother and having been born and brought up in Britain, increasingly see themselves as British and start to reject their father's rules on dress, food, religion, and living in general. Written by Jeremy Perkins.

Zahir Khan was born in Pakistan and had got married for the first time there. Seeking better prospects, he immigrated to Britain, fell in love with Ella, a Caucasian, married her, and eventually became the father of six sons and one daughter. He wanted all of children to follow the Islamic tradition, and would parcel them in the "masjid van" every Friday for prayers and religious incantations. Arguments with Ella are one-sided, and end when he threatens to bring "Mrs. Khan" from Pakistan. His eldest son, Nadir, came to know that his dad was going to arrange his marriage, and ran away from home. Zahir, who now calls himself George, disowned him - all the more when he found out that Nadir is gay and is living with a male. While the children have all settled down in the community, and have their respective romantic flings, they do not know that their father has plans to marry off two of his sons to two Pakistani sisters. Ella does her best in bringing up the children, and is not a party to the selection of two prospective Pakistani brides for two of her sons. Nevertheless, the family prepare themselves, and her sons are introduced to these women. After recovering from the initial shock of seeing the women face to face, the family settles down, leaving Khan to negotiate the details. Noticing that the apartment was very small, the brides' mother proposed that both boys should settle in their house after marriage. Watch how chaos takes over and how the overbearing Khan attempts to bring his family in line - or at least tries to, all this in the midst of Enoch Powell's announcement that his political party will expel all immigrants and send them back to their respective motherlands.

Ayub Khan-Dins, the author of the screenplay, about how he came about to write that play:

I wrote the first draft of my autobiographical stage play East Is East fifteen years ago when I was at drama school. I started to write it for various reasons, the main one being that my mother had just been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and suddenly, as the disease progressed, it felt like whole sections of my life began to disappear with her memory. At the same time the neighbourhood I grew up in, Ordsall in Salford, was being demolished and the whole community was about to be broken up. I wanted to capture the spirit of the area and the people I had grown up with; to discover how that world had influenced the way my mother and father brought us up. One other important consideration, particular to me at the time, was that I wanted to create a decent part for myself. I was fed up of seeing the crap stereotypical roles dished out to Asian actors: you either ran the corner shop or were a victim of skinheads. I had no idea after leaving drama school that I would suddenly be stamped with an invisible mark that said BLACK ACTOR! So, while most of my contemporaries went off into rep, I had the added disadvantage of trying to find a company that enforced integrated casting—I didn't work for a year! So it was for all these reasons that I sat down and started to write East Is East. Whenever I wasn't working as an actor, I'd get it out and do a little more work on it. I think there must have been six drafts of the play over the years and one early attempt at a screenplay, which was the draft I turned back into the final stage version for the Tamasha/Royal Court production in 1996.

It was important to me from the early stages that this shouldn't be just one son's story but the story of a whole family, and not just an excuse for Paki-bashing my father (although this would have been easy to do as he did behave monstrously at times). But the more I looked at my parents and their relationship, especially considering the times they lived in, the more admiration I felt for their bravery. This was not a time of mixed-race marriages, which were barely acceptable in the middle-class salons of London. Anywhere else in Britain a white woman with a black man would be considered a prostitute. It must have been very hard for them, the hatred and bigotry they would have faced. But what I realised after looking at them from an adult perspective is what an incredibly strong relationship it created.

So why did this man who was married with a first wife and two daughters in Pakistan, who settled here in the early 1930s and married an English woman, who proceeded to have ten children whom he allowed to celebrate Christmas and Easter, why then did he decide that they could only marry Pakistanis? We never confronted him with his hypocrisy, we were too scared of him.You just didn't question him about anything; you did what he told you to do. I remember him when I was younger being playful with us, but all that changed by the age of ten. You were his son and you obeyed him, you suddenly lost all freedom of choice in any important life decisions. His relationship with my mother varied with whatever problem he was having with any of the kids and, as there were ten of us, there was always someone he was having a problem with. She always seemed to be right in the middle of it, her loyalty torn between her husband and her kids. Always trying to take our side when she could, but knowing she would inevitably bear the brunt of his anger and in the end lose another child as they were banished from the house for not towing the party line.There would then be a short separation with my father living over the chip shop and us in the house across the road. He wouldn't be completely cut off: we still went in for fish and chips, knowing after a couple of weeks he would be feeling contrite and would assuage his guilt by giving us money—which we took willingly. We knew he was back when he dropped by with a chicken or a big pot of curry and then it would start all over again until the next son decided he wanted a life.

The more I looked at the life we led, the more it made me question my father's motives. Why was he so insistent about stamping out any spark of independence he saw in his children? I think part of his problem was that he always seemed slightly embarrassed by us in the company of his family, who had settled over here. Perhaps it was a sense of shame and guilt that this was what he'd left his first wife and daughters for. I fear we didn't come up to scratch and were a constant disappointment. In many ways he must have felt extremely isolated and would have liked to have lived in a Pakistani community like Bradford. But that was one thing my mother was quite adamant about: we were staying in Salford.

That was more or less the sum total of our Pakistani life: trips to Bradford every first Sunday in the month visiting relations, being dragged in and out of people's houses, eating curry, going to another house and eating more curry. Being given money and my dad making us give it back—which we, ever so reluctantly, did.We were never allowed to accept it My dad's relatives had only just settled over here and didn't have the money to give (so he said), so he, as head of the family in England, thought it fell to him to hand out the cash to all and sundry—which didn't make my mother too happy. So as the money he'd refused on our behalf was put back into their pockets, he'd start handing out the pound notes to their kids, which their parents, after the usual protestations, allowed them to keep. Luckily we managed to convince them to part with it: their lack of English and maths was a godsend to our coffers. We couldn't communicate with them nor they with us, though it never seemed to matter as there was a mutual acceptance in our joint ignorance.

The climax of these visits would be a trip to my cousin's cinema. He looked and dressed like a film star with perfectly Brylcreemed hair and a suit, cut to perfection, which had a sheen to it that you could see your face in. Added to this, he had a charming personality and loads of money, which meant our coffers flowed again with his goodwill. Not only that, but we were allowed freedom of the city of'Kiosk'! A city overflowing with milk and honey, Caramac, Rolos and Kia-ora. We took as much as we could stuff into our pockets before my mother would swoop in with the back of her hand. Then into the cinema: the best seats in the house and whatever Bombay film we wanted to watch. Later it was back to Salford with the usual stop for my brother to throw up on the Snake Pass; chicken curry, kebabs and chocolate never mixed.

This was our Pakistani life; this was how we existed outside of Salford. A life none of my friends knew or could understand. I think in the film I came as close as possible to understanding my father's motivation in the way he tried to bring us up.

I may even have made him too eloquent in his arguments, but the one thing I didn't want to do was short change him: the character was too important for that to happen. I'm sure some Pakistanis will find the character offensive, but it is a fairly accurate portrayal of the man, and the times we lived in. He was not a Pakistani 'Everyman'; he was my father, and these were the choices, right or wrong, that he made. On the other hand, perhaps he was just a complete bastard and I've given him an easy time of it: one has to leave it up to an audience to judge.

The first draft of the play was the hardest, I suppose because I was looking at aspects of my life I'd never even contemplated before. My main problem after writing the first draft was depersonalising it, making it more available to an outside audience. I found I was able to do this by standing back and seeing what the themes of the piece were and where the narrative drive was going. This was basically what I did when I adapted the play into the screenplay. One of the other problems I came across here was getting rid of dialogue. No writer likes doing this, especially when it has been tried and tested in the theatre. But this wasn't the theatre. It was a scary moment. In the end I thought 'fuck it', and threw the play away. I had to start seeing the story in pictures. It was only then that it came alive again as a different beast: it was completely liberating. The parameters had changed and I realized I could let my imagination run riot, and put all the stories I'd wanted to put in the stage play into the screenplay. I'd be able to show in even more detail the strange eccentric world that this family inhabited.

Once I'd made this decision, the words and images spewed out, and only then could I steal back to the stage play and pillage dialogue. I also had input from the director and producer, which had to be taken into account. I agreed with some of it, and some I didn't. Some scenes and characters I felt passionate about fell by the wayside, but ultimately I don't think their loss has been detrimental to the film in any way. All the arguments in the play and the film are my own, formulated over the period of time between the first draft of the stage play and the final draft of the screenplay. This is one area no committee, no matter how well-intentioned their motives may be, can get involved in. These had to be my choices as a black writer writing about deeply personal issues. Luckily I had a director and producer who believed in the script. Yes, there was tension, but it was a creative tension, a positive tension.We'd be liars if we said we knew this at the time, but looking back I can sort of see it, especially when I remember what I came up with after going through some of that 'creative tension'. I've never regretted the night my wife Buki saw Damien O'Donnell's award-winning short film Thirty-five a Side and recommended it to me. After seeing that I knew he would be perfect for East Is East. His visual eye for comedy and my script married perfectly and he's done a brilliant job of capturing everything I wrote and adding to it with his own unique style of filming.

English vs. Pakistani lifestyles:

The film in general is a typical culture clash comedy. It offers some allusions to Pakistani and English lifestyles and the problems that occur when these ways of life clash.

The whole family is Muslim, so it is prohibited to eat meat, especially sausages, but the kids don’t care about that. This scene is a very funny one, because the children had to hide the smell of the delicious pork from the father but this situation is a serious problem for second-generation immigrants, because they have to fulfil the traditions of their parent’s home country with which the children haven't had any contact at all.

Another allusion is the typical western English girlfriend of Tariq, the complete opposite of the woman his father would choose. It is obvious that the director intended to single out a blond, full bosomed girl with blue eyes and a dull and naive character. This underlines the different point of views within the family.

The character of Stella's friend Peggy also implies that people in England are more refined and wealthier than Pakistani, because she is really stout.

Additionally the scene where the arranged meeting of Tariq and Abdul with their future wives takes places, is appropriate to allude on English and western demands, because both girls are not that fair, and in my opinion, if they where in Pakistan, Tariq and Abdul would have had to take them. The faces of the characters, especially George's, were clear. It is funny that even the very Muslim George has demands on the outer appearance of his son's wives.

An allusion to the differences between Pakistani and English lifestyle is Meenah, the only daughter. She obviously stands on the English side. She refuses it to wear Pakistani clothes and prefers to play soccer. Meenah often is pert; she likes to provoke her younger brother Sajid and seems to be very impatient. So she is the opposite of Maneer, an older brother. Maneer defends Pakistani traditions and is the only family member apart from George who is convinced to go to the mosque. So both children stand for another lifestyle. In my eyes this is a very subtle situation, because the Khan family is a split one.

Substance for another conflict in the family is offered by the fact that Tariq is known as "Tony" in the clubs he goes to every night. So he thinks an appropriate English name would help him to become a member of the British society and a real English man.

All these examples underline the situation of the family and illustrate the struggle against the oppression of the father and his Pakistani traditions.


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