15 December 2004 | oxblood
A different side of England
I wish there were more movies about the different cultures in the UK. Not just the Anglo, but the Asian and West Indian perspectives. Even the Southeast Asian view. The Middle Easterners have shown great strides with movies like "Bend It Like Beckham" and a few others. This movie got away from me until recently. I saw in the library video section and decided to check it out. The box is very misleading. They put a young interracial couple, front and center on the cover when actually their subplot is very peripheral to the story. I guess the movie studio figured they'd get a wider audience interested with younger faces on the cover since the main characters look to be in their 50s.
George Khan (Om Puri) has left his native Pakistan to live in the UK with its soveriegnty ties. Though he has a wife back in his homeland (she is only mentioned, not seen), he marries a white Englishwoman, Ella (Lynda Bassett). They have 7 kids: 6 boys and 1 girl. Flash forward to the late 60s (where the movie actually begins) and we see his kids are truly English in behavior though he stresses that they must go to Mosque to study and worship. His oldest is to be wed in an arranged marriage to a woman he hardly knows. He runs out in the middle of the ceremony in fear, embarrassing his family especially his father who disowns him. This sets the tone of the movie. His kids are English-born and want to live like their friends in their working-class neighborhood but George wants to raise them as traditional Muslims, despite opposition from his wife, Ella, who only wants the kids to be happy. She tries to help them avoid run-ins with their father who despite his cheerfulness is quite an ogre when angered. The kids range in attitude and indifference toward George's attempts to introduce them to the traditional ways.
This is a decent introduction to immigrant life in the UK especially since it's set during a time when there was political strife over immigration of non-whites into Britain. Though it's an effective comedy, it also touches on the frustration immigrants of any culture go through to hold onto or reject their identity. The only thing marring this movie is a domestic violence scene that may bother some. Still a very good movie worth seeing.