wogma rating: Watch when on TV/online (?)
After a point, Om Puri’s – or the Asian in question's - mispronunciations, jokes on cow shit, and overall conflict between the west and east becomes a mosh of recycled plot points and jokes. West is West offers nothing new, it’s a passable watch for when you’re bored on a weekend and want to be amused but it shouldn’t be taken as anything more than that.Read more
It’s raining sequels this season; you should buy an additional umbrella that can hold that burden. It’s not new to love an original and to have a sequel forced down your throat. Ayub Khan-Din scripted East is Easy in 1999 was one of the first British-Asian films to open the possibilities of that amusing premise - an Indian family living in the west and more such idiosyncrasies. The kids of the Khan family have it worse. Their mom is English and dad is a Pakistani patriarch. After a successful run, the movie opened up a good avenue for West is West – which had some promising promos.
West is West is like a hangover, no pun intended. It’s formulaic, and predictable. In West is West, Om Puri brings his youngest son, Sajid (Aqib Khan) to Pakistan because he feels he needs to inculcate some Pakistani culture into him. He deports him to his First wife’s home in a village in Pakistan where he hopes that Sajid will learn some values and morals. It all turns upside down when his holiday turns into a nostalgic overstay and Sajid begins to settle as a village boy.
Barring a few scenes here and there, the movie drags and the latter half becomes preachy and boring. Om Puri has a comic charm, which lasts for about 45 mins of the film after which you can almost foresee every event play out. The scenes that are funny, stand alone – jibes at the multiple relations in a Muslim household, lifestyle shifts between England and Pakistan, all make for hilarious 5-minute scenes. You could watch them on youtube over and over and be amused, but added to a film and it gets lost in the whirlpool.
Quick note about the soundtrack of the film – the Sufi sound will make you feel like you’re listening to Coke Studio, coupled with a few scenes that describe the serenity of Sufi music only to be best experienced in this side of the world. It’s a well-executed vision, provided a peaceful respite to the otherwise confused commotion of the film.
Director Andy De-Emmony isn’t looking to expose to his audience to the harsh realities of British Muslims – it’s not a deep film. You can laugh, and light-heartedly pull through 2 hours and walk out feeling amused but it gets stuck somewhere between a drama and a comedy. To top it all, West is West is also sprinkled with a few run-of-the-mill Asian, cultural stereotypes.
It’s a film that has a confused target audience and confused genre – and a cinematic confusion is not the same as a confused identity that stands on its own as a fundamental for culturally mixed films. If anything, West is West gives a preachy and only brief account of the theme that is quite rich for any Brit-Asian comedy: an identity crisis.
The characters are strong, be it English wife Ella (Linda Bassett) Sajid’s mother, George Khan (Om Puri) or even Ila Arun as Puri’s first wife – but together they only make for a passable watch. West is West is not a bad film, it’s enjoyable for a lazy watch, but I would recommend the much funnier and sharper prequel East is East. It serves the same purpose better if you’re looking for a lazy watch.
This review is by guest reviewer Swetha Ramakrishnan. Swetha Ramakrishnan is currently living and working in Mumbai. She's a self-confessed film enthusiast and can most likely be found talking to anyone and everyone about popular cinema and her love for SRK. Swetha Ramakrishnan also blogs at http://swetharamakrishnan.blogspot.com/.
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