Printworks Premiere for West is West
It’s not often a sequel comes along after a 12 year wait to rival its predecessor, but West is West is attempting to do just that, and it received a warm reception at a star studded Printworks premiere.
After the phenomenal success of the original, East is East, the troubled Khan family return to the big screen, documenting life in 1970’s Manchester.
It was an emotional homecoming at the Odeon for Salford-born Ayub Khan-Din, who used his own experiences growing up in the area to write both scripts.
Moving on five years since the first installment, West is West sees Om Puri reprise his role of George, the omnipresent head of the house, who is struggling to communicate with his youngest son, rebellious Sajid.
When the strained relationship reaches boiling point following a string of petty crimes, George takes Sajid, played by newcomer Aqib Khan, to Pakistan in a last ditch attempt to mend family ties and install a sense of heritage in the teen tear-away.
The movie was filmed on location in both Manchester and India, and features original cast members Linda Bassett and Jimi Mistry.
Ayub, who’s a former pupil of Ordsall Secondary Modern, said: “I was Sajid. I grew up in Salford and went through exactly the same type of problems he does, such as the racism and not really understanding where I was from. The films are semi autobiographical.”
Providing the comedic relief and most memorable scenes in the film is Irlam native Lesley Nicol, who returns as chip shop worker Auntie Annie. She said: “I’m absolutely delighted to be home. As an actress I don’t usually go anywhere past Huddersfield, so for me to get on a plane and travel to India, it was amazing.”
Other famous faces walking the red carpet included Roxanne Pallett, formerly of Emmerdale, and Charlotte Dawson, daughter of funnyman Les.
The real star of the night though was Aqip, who clearly enjoyed his new found fame, striking various poses on the red carpet before laughing with photographers and onlookers.
After watching the film, it’s hard to believe the 16 year old has never acted before, showing an effortless maturity in the front of the camera, and cementing himself as one to watch for the future.
Plucked from obscurity, the Bradford lad seemed at ease with the attention, confident with the crowds. He said: “I was at school and someone suggested I went to an open audition, and here we are now. I’m a third generation Pakistani, so the film and its themes struck a chord.”
Whilst there are a few standout performances in West is West, as a whole the film lacks the one liners and sharp wit of East is East. Nonetheless, this is still a story with heart, and it’s difficult not to be moved by the coming of age tale, and as the last shot fills the screen of Sajid sat outside his cramped Salford terrace, its evident the city is as much a part of Ayub Khan-Din as his eastern roots.
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