In celebration of Ramadan a look back at East is EastMarc Ehrenbold
Ramadan begins today and Muslims all over the country will begin the month of fasting. We’re using this as an opportunity to look back at a film that we were involved in that proved to be a landmark in Anglo-Asian cultural relations. East is East (1999) is a comedy set in 70’s Salford and follows the story of the Khans, George and Ella, Pakistani-Muslim and British-Catholic respectively, along with their seven children through the generational and cultural tension of growing up in a mixed race family.
On it’s release East is East was heralded as a growing up of British comedies attitude to race and identity. One reviewer suggested that East is East did for the culture-clash comedy what The Full Monty (1997) did for male stripping. More importantly what East is East did was make it’s messages about cultural relations as important and well represented as the issues of class that The Full Monty addressed.
East is East offers up a microcosm of national, generational and religious relations in the form of the Khan family. Patriarch George is determined that his children follow strict Pakistani Islamic tradition but they seem more interested in exploring the permissive counter-culture that had finally reached Salford by the 70s. The red brick terraces of the city provide the key imagery for the film, both disapproving and intoxicated neighbours jammed into close proximity. The back alleys and adjoining gardens providing cover for slinking off to satisfy rebellious and hormonal urges, disapproving middle aged women with cigarettes jammed in the side of their mouths ever vigilant for gossip and scandal.
Not all of the action takes place around the terraced houses, one memorable excursion is the family’s trip to Bradford (Bradistan as a sign has been edited to read) the Pakistani centre of England. This trip, and a few other flourishes, are why writer Ayub Khan-Din decided to turn his stage play into a film and at Aimimage we were delighted to provide the equipment to make this a reality. East is East was shot entirely on 35mm using our film cameras. If you are interested in making the next Great British Comedy get in touch with us for your equipment needs.