-- Heena Brahmbhatt
Initially, my reaction to the two physically ugly sisters he tries to get his second and third sons to marry in arranged marriages was that it was too much--stereotyping of arranged marriage, the western idea of -- --arranged marriage and all that. But, after I reflected on it a couple of days, I think there was much more than appeared on the surface. I think the point was that the father believed that giving his word was everything in his culture and faith, which it probably was (and still is for some people) when he left Pakistan in 1946. No matter how the girls looked like physically, he could not go back on his word because he had agreed to seriously consider them as matches for his sons sitting in his biradari---his community--(granted it was a made up biradari of -- --immigrants but it was still his biradari). Refusing them on the basis of their looks would have not just resulted in loss of face for the girls' father but also the boys' father.
It reminded me of the many stories I've heard from my grandparents about similar situations in our immediate and extended family (I'm Sikh and my family is originally from Punjab in Pakistan and moved to India during the partition) about these kind of situations. Once the father/mother/grandfather/uncle gave their word, it was kept no matter what happened.
-- Sonya Pelia
-- Amtul Saeed
Another thing that bothered me about it is that the film is promoted as a comedy - while parts of it were funny, I'm not sure I would at all define it as a comedy.
I still left the film thinking that I did like it, despite all my negative reactions.
-- Salima Bandali
The topic of South Asians living in England is highly intriguing. For example, the highly isolated social network that has evolved among class, caste, religion and regional differences. While this movie does address some of those issues, I feel that in every way possible, it overly exaggerates the role of the Pakistani father. The filmakers obviously are attempting to demonstrate the conflicting values of Eastern and Western cultures, but it goes too far in favor of the western "free" society, so Pakistani culture and religion are almost mocked.
For example, the opening scene shows the 7 Half Pakistani/ Half White English children happily marching in a Catholic parade. When they realize their father is coming, they re-route so, he does not see them. However, when it comes time to go to mosque all the kids run and hide and are dragged and beaten by their father and forced to attend mosque.
While I am sure that similar scenarios exist, I feel that the polar opposite portrayal of a negative, oppressive Pakistani community versus the free-willing, happy English community was a little far-fetched. In addition, the big screen portrayal of these opposite cultures only helps to vindicate media favored stereotypical perception that South Asian culture is inherently oppressive. The wife in the film is angelized in everyway while the father is portrayed as a bumbling idiot who says "bloody" every 2 seconds. Maybe Om Puri (who plays the role of the father) was attempting to comically exaggerate Pakistani men, but it didn't seem very amusing to me. I actually felt embarrassed that people would think that all South Asian men are like that. I mean, we already have Apu and the Short Circuit guy and every other computer geek on the block. This movie didn't help much. The guys in the movie are very western, but they are portrayed as being attractive because they are "western".
By contrast, "Bhaji on the Beach" is also a movie about South Asians in England and while it wasn't the most well-made movie, I felt that it touched on several different and more realistic South Asian issues. I identified with the characters more and it dealt with some heavy intercultural issues. "East is East" lightly addresses these issues, but focuses more on this absurd exaggeration of Pakistanis.
Finally, the title itself "East is East" seems to suggest that Eastern cultures are better left in the East and if someone moves to the West, they should abandon their culture. Thereby once again highlighting the concept of polar oppositions. "East is East" and "West is West" and they should never seek a common ground.
I admit that I am not Pakistani, so maybe I don't have first hand knowledge of what British-Pakistani life is like, but this was just my general impression. I do recommend that everyone watch the movie and support these filmakers.