Religion and the Media - review of the film "East is East".
East is east
(C) Choose an issue from religion & community cohesion presented in one form of the media and explain whether the presentation was fair to the religious people or not.
"George" Khan is a Pakistani Muslim who has lived in England since 1937 and has been married to Ella, a British Roman Catholic of Irish descent, for 25 years. They have 7 children together: Nazir, Abdul, Tariq, Saleem, Maneer, Meenah, and Sajid, and run a popular english fish and chips shop. The film starts with oldest son Nazir facing an arranged marriage to a Pakistani girl but finding himself unable to go through with it. He runs out at the start of the ceremony in front of all the family and guests, to his mother's distress and his father's chagrin, the latter spurring George on to disown his eldest son, forever telling anyone who asks about him that he is dead.
The next family crisis is the discovery that youngest son Sajid somehow never got circumcised as is preferred in Islam (which, comically, sends the Muslim children in the mosque into a panic). Sajid is promptly taken to the hospital to get circumcised. When Ella sees the pain her son has suffered due to the circumcision, the conflict between her love of her husband and her inability to stand up to him is readily visible. Left alone, the other children (barring Maneer) eat Haram foods, bacon and sausages, until Meenah sees their parents returning with Sajid. They try to hide the evidence, but Ella smells it—then keeps George away just long enough for them to finish clearing up.
Meanwhile, George arranges with Mr Shah for next-in-line sons Abdul and Tariq to marry Nighat and Nushaaba, the ugly and overweight Shah daughters. George promises Mr Shah that the marriages will happen, even after he has seen photos of his prospective daughters-in-law (and just managed to discreetly hide his disgust). When George shares the plans with Ella, she openly disagrees, reminding him what happened with Nazir. George shuts down, insisting that Nazir is dead and the other children have no right whatsoever to disagree with him. Sajid happens to overhear this and he blurts it out during a fight with Tariq, Saleem, and Meenah.
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It seems that Tariq is already in a relationship with local white girl Stella, which they are keeping secret from George and Stella's racist grandfather. Despite the others' attempts to stop him, Tariq destroys the clothes and watches his father has traditionally bought for all his sons' weddings. When George sees the desecrated items, he assaults Maneer (the only one who follows George's strict rules) for refusing to name the culprit. Ella stands between them, greatly angering and confusing her husband, and says that his "pig-like" ignorance has alienated his children and caused them to be what he thinks of as "so much trouble." George misunderstands, only hearing the terrible insult to a Muslim: being called a pig. Enraged, he beats her badly and the children attempt to flee to Nazir in Eccles—where he is living with a male partner. Nazir drives back to Manchester to confront George. His mother begs him to go, claiming that his father will go mad. Desperate not to see his mother hurt, Nazir gives in and turns around, urging her to come to him when she needs to get away. George does briefly see Nazir as he drives away, but he appears more regretful than angry.
George, seeing his world collapse around him as he loses his family's control and respect, resorts to severe measures. His offspring see themselves as British, not Pakistani, and they get increasingly frustrated with their father's attempts to mould them in his image. Tariq tries speaking to his father reasonably, George won't listen and even threatens Tariq at knifepoint. Tariq finally agrees to obey him, but hints that he'll divorce his ugly wife as soon as possible.
Mr and Mrs Shah and their daughters finally arrive. Both girls are obese, Nushaaba has an abnormally-huge overbite, and Nighat is simply ugly. Ella knows she has brought up her children well, but the snobby and rude Mrs Shah makes constant subtle attacks on her. The final straw occurs when Saleem accidentally drops his sculpture of a vagina on Mrs Shah's lap. Mrs Shah directly insults Ella and her sons, calling them "half-breeds". Ella angrily ejects the Shahs and their "inbred monstrosities" from the house. As expected, George blames Ella instead of Mrs Shah, but Ella stands her ground and calls George the source of the family's misery. Again George attacks Ella, but the children team up to defend their mother and halt their father. This shows him that his unjust position has driven his whole family away, even Maneer, and he breaks down, realizing that his best intentions have backfired dreadfully. Seeing that he is no longer the man of the house, he quietly departs and finds solace in the family's chip shop.
Despite this, Ella still sees George as her husband and realizes that she will remain faithful and loyal to him until the end. The film ends on George and Ella having tea together, Tariq attempting to reconcile with Stella, and the children playing together in the street.
The main issues presented in this film are the problems of being in an interfaith marriage and the problems of living as an ethnic minority in a multi-faith society. These issues are very important as Britain is not a monofaith society and immigration has meant that Britain has become a religiously plural society. The movie shows that it can be difficult for parents living in this kind of society means that it can be difficult to pass of their faiths and traditions to their children, where their faith is not the dominant religion and also where the society around them is very liberal. The film explores the real issues that may arise growing up in the British society as it is non-Islamic and the family are a minority group in the area. In the time period that the movie was set in community cohesion was also uncommon.
I feel that the film gives a bad impression of the Islamic religion as the film portrays more negative ideas about the way Muslims live their lives, rather than the good aspects and the actual truth about the religion. For example the forced arranged marriages.
In the film George arranges secret weddings for his sons Nazir, Abdul and Tariq, all in which do not want to marry their chosen Pakistani partner. It is seen in the film when Nazir runs from his wedding and is disowned by George, and when George is branded a hypocrite by Tariq; that none of these go to plan. This gives a negative impression of the Islamic religion as some may believe from the film that all Muslim marriages are forced, which certainly isn’t the case as it states in the Qur’an that arranged marriages should never be forced. This may therefore put others off the religion and might create negative stereotypes and prejudiced opinions towards Islam.
Another negative view portrayed by the film is the suggestion that Islam is boring. This is shown by the children, and the way they obey against the rules of Islam and their father. During the film we see all the Children are forced to attend the mosque by their pushy father. At the mosque all of the children (barr Maneer) are almost mocking the religious leader and the Arabic language. We also see the children (except Maneer and Sajjid) eating the Haram meats, Bacon and Sausages and Tariq and Abdul attending a nightclub, consuming alcohol which is also forbidden by the Islamic food laws. Watching this gives the impression that Muslims are unable to stick to the rules of their religion and that the religion itself is utterly boring and uninteresting. This is negative as many Muslims would want to follow the rules and be good citizens; however this is not suggested in the movie.
The film also strongly emphasises the issues to the viewer of living in an non-Islamic society and the possible problems that an interfaith marriage might cause, For example the confusion of the childrens religion, which is seen when the children are seen enjoying an Catholic concession. From this the viewer’s may interpret that Interfaith marriages do not work and are bad, although this is inaccurate as many Interfaith marriages work perfectly well and children are happily exposed to many religions often encouraging non-prejudice and biased views.
On the other hand the story shows how much George cares for his children. Although we see him showing violence towards his family it’s only because he wants the best for his children and them to feel part of the Pakistani and Islamic Community. It is possible that he just wanted them to be good Muslims so they are able to go to paradise when they pass away, however his actions were just misinterpreted by the viewer. This portrays the idea that Muslims are caring and just trying their hardest to do the best they possibly can for their children even if it is or seems like the wrong thing to do.