‘East Is East’ writer Ayub Khan-Din’s screen version of his 2007 play ‘Rafta, Rafta’ unfolds another serio-comic tale of generational conflict in the British-Asian community. A cancelled honeymoon means Bolton newlyweds Atul and Vina (Reece Ritchie and Amara Karan) have to move in with his parents, not the most relaxed surroundings for conjugal relations. Yet the pressure’s on for sensitive type Atul to prove his manhood in the eyes of his swaggering, larger-than-life dad, Eeshwar (Harish Patel). The subtext, though, is how the father feels that the son’s easygoing, touchy-feely modernity is a rejection of the previous generation’s determined struggle to make a life in England – familiar material perhaps, but put across with Khan-Din’s typical facility for giving all sides a certain dignity while delivering sundry entertaining one-liners. With all the principals (including Meera Syal’s wise old mum) having already honed their performances on stage, the result is big-hearted, occasionally touching, but evidently compromised by a contrived storyline, a confounding key subplot involving a character we never meet and an overly convenient resolution.
Strangely, all these problems were evident in Khan-Din’s source material: ‘Alfie’ scribe Bill Naughton’s original 1963 play ‘All in Good Time’ – filmed in 1966 as ‘The Family Way’ with John Mills and Hywel Bennett. A lack of generosity in properly acknowledging Naughton’s contribution is one issue, but couldn’t the material’s second screen incarnation have gone one better with the adaptation? Maybe it’s not a question to concern most viewers, yet, knowing the background, it’s hard not to feel that this could have been a whole lot better.