As the proliferation of cheap rehashes proved a long time ago, making sequels to hit movies is easy – any fool can do it.
On the other hand making a sequel which naturally and gracefully builds on, and sometimes even surpasses the original, is far harder and requires genuine talent on both sides of the camera.
So when I first heard of plans to make a sequel to East is East I felt a mix of pleasure – the original is one of my favourite modern British movies – and fear that it would be, to use a technical term, rubbish.
Luckily for those of use keen to see another outing for George Khan (Om Puri) and his family this sequel has been crafted by East is East veterans Ayub Khan-Din and Leslee Udwin alongside Fantabulosa director Andy De Emmony.
And I do mean ‘crafted’ because rather than a rehash of the first movie, the trio have delivered a film which takes the story of the Khan family forwards, exploring new plotlines and – for some of the family – a new country.
With his older offspring having flown the nest, the new film finds the authoritarian George focussing his attentions on youngest son Sajid (newcomer Aqib Khan) who, partly because of George’s almost tyrannical insistence on Pakistani tradition, is being bullied at school.
Eternally disappointed by his offspring, George overrides his wife’s wishes and decides to take the boy ‘home’ to Pakistan to live with Mrs Khan No 1 – the wife George abandoned 30 years earlier for a life in Salford.
What follows is a journey of self-discovery for the entire Khan family, but it’s George who unexpectedly finds himself enduring some of the toughest lessons.
Puri is as always fantastic, treating the audience to a glimpses of self-doubt, of pain and inner conflict which George’s usual brash, loud persona appear designed to hide from the world.
The sight of George slowly coming to see himself as the wider world does is one of cinemas most understated and emotional tales of self-discovery.
Alongside Puri there are welcome returns by original cast members Linda Bassett, Lesley Nicol, Emil Marwa and Jimi Mistry and the inclusion of so many familiar faces helps cement the links between the two films.
Newcomer Aqib Khan deserves particular praise for a confident debut performance in thins he displays some great timing and more than holds his own in a cast of predominately older, more experienced cast members.
As with all the best sequels, knowledge of the first film isn’t necessary to enjoy West is West though fans of the original should enjoy a few ‘pay-off’ moments.
One of the best British movies of recent years – don’t miss it.
WEST IS WEST IS RELEASED FRIDAY FEBRUARY 25TH