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Wednesday, November 3, 1999 Published at 19:33 GMT


East by North-West

EastEnders actor Jimi Mistry at the centre of attention in East Is East

It is the latest movie to carry the "next Full Monty" tag - but producers of British film East Is East are hoping it will boost the movie industry in the north of England.

Media Correspondent Nick Higham visits Salford with Ayub Khan Din
Based on a play by Ayub Khan Din, the comedy is a story about growing up in working-class Salford, near Manchester, in the early 1970s.

It tells the story of a family's struggle as the children of a Pakistani husband and his English wife rebel against the traditional Muslim life their father has in mind for them.

As well as documenting the difficulties many Asian families found at the time, it has also been praised for its humorous, but gritty portrayal of life in the north west.

It features Coronation Street actor Chris Bisson and EastEnders counterpart Jimi Mistry, who both attended the film's premiere at Manchester's Trafford Centre on Tuesday evening.

Striking a chord

Bisson, who plays Vikram Desai in the ITV soap, said he thought the film would strike a chord with many people.

"The experience that you see in the film, especially from my character's point of view, is certainly similar to what my dad saw when he as growing up in the late 60s early 70s," he said.

"Certainly I never grew up with posters opposite me and people being overtly racist. I lived in inner city Manchester and had a full life as a Westerner."

[ image: Tariq Kham (Mistry) tries to avoid an arranged marriage]
Tariq Kham (Mistry) tries to avoid an arranged marriage
Ayub Khan Din based the story on his own experiences with his Pakistani father and white mother in Salford in the 1970s. He recalled the close-knit community of the time.

"If I had done something on another street, someone was allowed to give me a slap round the ear-hole. My parents wouldn't have said anything because they know they wouldn't have done it if I'd not been doing anything wrong."

Few of the old terraces remain in the area now, and his original home is now a park and housing estate.

"They were demolished in the late 70s - they were well over 100 years old, but they were still solid houses, they didn't want to pump money into any of them to make them better.

"And when they demolished the houses, they demolished the community."

Bacon sandwiches

The old back alleys of Salford provided a useful getaway for the young Ayub, illicitly cooking bacon while his parents were out.

"We'd have a look out of the front door and if they were coming it was out of the back door, down the alley, with sandwiches going everywhere."

Speaking at the premiere, actor Om Puri, who plays the father George Khan, is sure the theme of the film will have wide appeal.

"This kind of sit could appeal in any kind of society - that's the beauty of the film, it has a universal appeal," he said.

Pundits have said it could be a big international hit - but Jimi Mistry added: "It's not the next Full Monty, it's the first East Is East."

East Is East is released in the UK on Friday.

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