Films | Movie Reviews | WEST IS WEST – Film Review

WEST IS WEST – Film Review

Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on June 10, 2011 | No Comments

PRODUCER – Leslee Udwin
DIRECTOR – Andy deEmmony
WRITER – Ayub Khan-Din
CAST – Aqeeb Khan, Om Puri. Ila Arun, Linda Basset
MUSIC – Robert Lane

While the first part of the series espoused a certain screwball light-heartedness, West is West is a rather painful and serious study of ethnic identities and lost opportunities. Jahangir or George finds his teenage son becoming extremely wayward and takes him to his hometown in Pakistan to bring him in touch with his roots. The story of Jahangir is such – Jahangir is an NRI in London who left his homeland (Pakistan) and wife (who had borne him only daughters) to make a new and prosperous life. He gets himself another wife, an Englishwoman who gives him two sons. The elder one, Maneer is already in Pakistan close to his roots and now it is the time for the younger one, Sajid to reconnect.

Reconnect he does and with him we do too. Slowly Sajid opens up to the sights and smells of his Punjabi hometown with the loving guidance of Pirji and the friendship of Kamal. As he is settling into a sweet and comfortable reunion his father is re-opening old wounds. His coming back has shaken up the thirty year long dormant anger and pain of his first wife while the depth of her pains shocks him. As he confesses in the end, all his life he cared for his family back home and regularly sent them money and was satisfied in thinking he was a good man. But the hurt he faces on his return disturbs his self-satisfied world.

The film is strewn with multiple touches of complex relationships and personal choices that resonate in crippling ones identity. Both father and son find themselves within this journey of coming back. Life comes a full circle for Jahangir and both his wives as each confronts, accepts and moves on with their destinies.

The film commands strong performances from the ever-dependable Om Puri and multi-talented Ila Arun. It has touching moments of discovery and confrontation with pain and the writing and direction show a mature understanding of human relationships and the gender identities of men and women. A beautiful and lilting score completes this slice of niche realist cinema with its folk, traditional and Sufi music binding the narrative tight.

The film does not make all its characters lovable but their stories are strong and rooted. Although it captures native Pakistan with a Western documentarian eye, the earthiness is unmistakable. It may not be spell-binding and definitely is not a ‘time-pass’, West is West, unlike its name is rather a universal story of humans caught between two times, two nations and two choices.

FATEMA H.KAGALWALA

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