Both the film ‘East is East’ and the poem, ‘Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan’ deal with the issue of identity. All of the characters within ‘East is East’ are being brought up within mixed cultures and this causes problems within their lifestyles. Whilst the poem, ‘Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan’ is an autobiography, it is written by a woman who was brought to England as a child, from Pakistan and felt confused in later life. Her culture became the significance of her life but she didn’t know what culture was her culture and where her native home actually was.
‘East is East’ Is set in 1971 in the North of England at a place called Salford. We know it was set during the 70’s because of the fashion we saw on the film and also there were certain radio reports. The main characters in the film are the parents and their children. The parents are both of different nationalities. George Khan is the father from Pakistan whilst the mother of the family is called Ella Khan and originates from England. Although the father of the family is from Pakistan, his name has been anglicised into an English name.
This is probably so that he fits in more with his new home and can be classified by other people as part of the English community. George also has another wife who lives in Pakistan. This would be unacceptable in England and would definitely be illegal but in the Moslem religion it is perfectly acceptable to have up to seven wives! The children of the family are of mixed race. Ella has seven children that vary from a range of ages. There are six boys and one girl. The girl is called Meenah and she is a tomboy who enjoys playing football. Each boy in the family is very individual and has a very different personality.
Maneer is the father’s favourite and is very religious. His brothers and sisters refer to him as ‘Ghandi’. Tariq, the other son is very popular with the girls and is the local heartthrob. All of the children have to follow their Pakistan religion strictly. The Pakistan culture is totally different from the English. The fashions are totally different. Women wear a dress called a Salwar Kameez known as a sari. In the film we are shown some of the clothes as the camera zooms up into a chest that contains very rich and colourful traditional wedding clothes.
Each child, when old enough, has an arranged marriage. The film shows this when George sets up an arranged marriage for his son but his son doesn’t go through with it as he is actually a homosexual. We know this as George says, “Tradition see son… “. This shows us that the father is in favour of the marriage but the children don’t think that it is fair and disagree with it. Tariq does not want to marry a woman from his father’s culture and says, “I’m not marrying a fking paki”. This shows the audience that Tariq is racist and does not agree with the marriages..
It is also ironic because he is partly Pakistani, therefore he is denying part of his cultural background. The issue of marriage causes many problems within the family. The father of the family represents himself as the Master of the household. This is very sexist but it was what the Moslem culture thought was right. During the film we acknowledge the fact that instead of the children doing what their father says, they start to rebel against him and lose their respect for him mainly because of the disagreements caused by the different cultures.
The relationship between the mother and the father of the family is strange. There are two moods that the parents may be in; one is the loving relationship that we are shown when George gives Ella a hairdressing chair and they show affection to each other by cuddling up together. On the other hand we are shown a violent side to the pair when George hits Ella during an argument caused by the mixed marriages. Ella tries to defend her son and George becomes very angry by this and hits her. George says to Ella, “You Bastard Bitch, you bring shame on the family”.
This was said in anger and could have been meant racially as Ella was British. There are also pressures for the family from their community. The neighbours also make racist comments towards the family. This makes it uneasy for the family, as they have to live in the racist environment. An example of this is when Ernest’s granddad makes a racist remark towards the Khan family and he also tells his grandchildren to keep away from the Khan family but secretly his granddaughter was having a relationship with Tariq…