Interview: Actor OM PURI on George Khan in "West is West" and more

Click Play to listen to Om Puri chat with Sayantanee Dutt
WBRi On-Demand Audio Broadcast Service

Om Puri as George Khan in West is WestWashington, DC / Mumbai, March 16, 2013 (Washington Bangla Radio): One of India's most gifted actors Om Puri chats with Sayantanee Dutt about the internationally acclaimed film "West is West" and his experience and distinguished career in general in this exclsuive audio interview wit WBRi.

Om Puri has brilliantly portrayed the difficult character of George Khan first in "East is East" and then in the sequel "West is West". However, it is in "West is West" that George Khan is developed fully into a character with a whole range of emotions and deeper personality. With not much of an education, George Khan leaves his wife and two daughters back in Pakistan and moves to England, where he meets and eventually marries a British woman. It is not made very clear how this came about, though it is said the two fell in love, we know that sometimes immigrants marry locals as a shortcut to legalizing their long-term residence in their adopted country.

George Khan settles down with the British woman and the couple have a number of children. George Khan is a traditional Muslim man, but the kids attend British schools and obviously deviate from south-Asian culture. One of the sons becomes particularly problematic, as we saw in "East is East". "West is West" extends the story to many years later when one of the older sons gets comfortable in Pakistan, but one of his youngest sons resists his father's traditions and becomes a bigger problem when taken on a trip to Pakistan by his father.

George's situation becomes even more precarious when his English wife also arrives in Pakistan. Eventually George breaks down in front of his wife, just repeating how much he loves her. In one of the most engaging parts of the film, the British wife and the Pakistani wife somehow communicate without having a common language - they do understand each other's pain, shortly after which the film ends with George flying back to England with his British wife.

It would be a mistake to accuse George of being self-centered and not caring about the relationships in his life or being harsh on the children. One must take into account that George is strongly traditional but uneducated. As Om Puri puts it, when one migrates to another land, it is the immigrant's responsibility to understand and learn the ways of the people there, particularly as that country did not invite the immigrant, but still embrace him when he did arrive. Also, there is nothing wrong with the children going to local schools and picking up the customs of what really is their own country.

Watch "West is West" Film Online.

WEST IS WEST is the sequel to the internationally acclaimed and successful film “EAST IS EAST”, a ground-breaking film which broke down cultural barriers in the UK and around the world. The first break-out multiplex hit film which dealt meaningfully with cultural diversity.

WEST IS WEST is now available for download to own or streaming on demand for rent for very little money - click here to download or watch this wonderful film >

Another twist in the tale is that though George Khan is a very liberal Muslim, one of his sons travels to Pakistan and loses himself to the ways if radical Islamic fundamentalism.

At the end of the day, perhaps if George Khan was an educated man, he would have been able to realize that there is nothing wrong in adapting to values from another culture. "It is not British culture to abuse drugs or smoke hash", says Puri. "When children fall into such traps, immigrants often blame the culture of their host country, but it is really not so."

"It is a very human story with a variety of emotions and difficult circumstances," he adds. "It is a story of relationships, a family ..."

A rare graduate of both the Film and Television Institute of India and the National School of Drama, Om Puri's remarkable career started with small films. In this comprehensive interview, listen to Om Puri talk about the biggest moments of his life, his batchmate Naseeruddin Shah, his Hollywood experience having actors like Patrick Swayze, Jack Nicholson, Val Kilmer, Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts as co-stars, his thoughts about the current scenario of Indian cinema and of course, projects he his working on currently including his return on stage to theater after more than two decades.

Sayantanee DuttAn ardent recitation and elocution enthusiast, RJ Sayantanee Dutt lives in Fremont, CA and writes and anchors Pashchimi's popular Bangla radio show "Robibarer Ashor" on Radio Zindagi 1550 AM broadcasting in the San Francisco Bay area. Some of her wonderful recitation recordings have been featured on WBRi available on-demand in this post

Article by Supratim Sanyal, Washington, DC.