Edinburgh Festival `99: Film Review

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The Independent Culture
East is East

Screening at EIFF in Filmhouse 1 on Friday 27

"Your grandad will drop a bollock if he finds out you're courting a Paki," Stella's friend Peggy tells her. This is Salford, 1971, and the "Paki" in question is Tariq (Jimi Mistry), son of chip-shop owner George Ghengis Khan (Om Puri). It's doubtful whether Ghengis would be too happy about Tariq's backyard snogs with Stella, either. Despite being married to Lancashire trooper Linda Bassett, the proud Pakistani is determined to settle their seven children in arranged marriages.Caught between bell-bottoms and saris, between a father who wants obedience and a mother who just wants what's best, the kids must find their own way through the East-West divide. Smartly opening up Ayub Khan-Din's stage play for the screen, Damien O'Donnell's hugely enjoyable drama explores what happends when two cultures collide within one cramped terraced house. Attacking serious themes with good- natured gusto, his romp through racial tension is a judicious mixture of salty humour and real pathos. If Bassett s no-nonsense Mum has many of the best lines, Puri deserves special praise for his sympathetic portrait of Ghengis Khan: less tin-pot dictator than chip-pan patriarch.

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