Today I saw the movie ‘West Is West’ in an up market cinema hall. Will fume about the cinema hall later (in PS); let me first present the review.
The movie is a sequel to the super hit ‘East Is East’, in which Jehagir Khan aka George Khan (Om Puri) migrates from Pakistan to London in search of a better life, leaving his wife Basheera (Ila Arun) and daughters. There he marries an English lady Ella and settles down. He has seven kids from her.
The sequel is set in the early seventies. The story basically revolves around his youngest son, Sajid, who is going through a terrible patch because of his identity crisis. He is bullied by white students and bunks school most of the time, and is on his way to become a delinquent youth. He roams around aimlessly on streets, shoplifts and gets caught once as well. His father, ashamed of his act and confused about his education and future decides to take him to their native place,
. His other son, a very mature and mild mannered Muneer (Jimmy Mistry) also joins. The trio arrives in Pakistan and is given a warm homecoming by the family. The combined family, along with uncles and cousins also includes his first wife, (played to perfection by Ila Arun) and their married daughters. Actor Vijay Raaz has portrayed the character of one of the relatives who becomes a voluntary guide for the entire trip. The rustic charm of village and natural beauty is very well captured in the movie. A simple village life, without creating any false image is shown. Bullock carts, dusty alleys, women toiling day and night, pir baba, old markets, old houses with joint brick roofs, buffaloes and the like are well portrayed. Pakistan
Unlike Muneer, Sajid feels very out of place in his ancestral village which is completely alien to him in every possible way. George Khan tries his best to calm down the boy but all his counseling and even beatings make Sajid even more rebellious till he meets the local ‘Pir baba’ who interestingly converses in fluent English. He also befriends a local village lad who becomes his best buddy later.
Now starts the main story. The baba, in simple words and through tales and examples explains him the concept of individuality and adaptation. He gets him to wear local clothes and slowly and surely calms him down. Sajid transforms from a confused teen to a confident boy, aware of his identity and no longer ashamed of accepting it openly. A parallel track runs between the guilt laden George Khan and his first wife. She clearly tells him that since she somehow managed the tough task of being a single mother to perfection for last thirty years, she has become strong and independent from within and feels no need to appeal to any man’s mercy. Also, that she is not just an address for his letters and money orders but a living breathing individual. Her silent expressions speak volumes. The most beautiful scene in the entire movie is when she explains Ella, George’s second wife (who arrives later tracking George) that she neither loves nor longs for him anymore and shows her their old wedding photograph in sign language (due to different languages).
A few more events take place rapidly; story has its own little twists and turns. I would not like to disclose each and every aspect of the story here. Two notable things about this movie are the kind but firm attitude of George Khan’s first wife towards her step sons and even Ella, and that except a few Hindi/Punjabi slang, there are no saucy scenes. Hence, unlike most of the movies being released these days, it is very ‘safe’ to watch it with elders/parents.
I would give this arty movie a rating of 4 on a scale of 5.
1) Only seven people were there for West is West. Two couples, one uncle, and us. The couples quickly occupied both ends of the last row and were giggling all the time :P
2) Another thing that I particularly dislike about such hi-fi halls is the overpricing of food items.