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My Son the Fanatic (1999)

1 rating: 3.0
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Most generation gaps focus on conservative parents and radical kids, butMy Son the Fanaticdepicts the opposite: taxi driver Parvez (Om Puri) can't understand why his son has turned to Muslim fundamentalism, calling the Western world of their corner of … see full wiki

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1 review about My Son the Fanatic (1999)

A Fine Little Film That Is Particularly Important Today!

  • Mar 11, 2007
MY SON THE FANATIC is a small scale film made in 1998 about the problems of cross culture assimilation between Pakistanis and the British - or rather between Muslim and Christian - that packs a powerful punch in the understanding of current clashes similar to the film's story that are so keenly in focus today. Based on a short story by Hanif Kureishi (who also adapted the story to a screenplay) and directed by the highly respected Udayan Prasad, this film is blessed with a fine cast of actors who make some of the more improbable aspects quite warmly credible.

Parvez (the always fine Om Puri) slept through his Muslim education in Pakistan and moved to England with his wife Minoo (Gopi Desai) where he has been a taxi cab driver for 25 years while his co-immigrants such as his best friend Fizzy (Harish Patel) have become rich entrepreneurs. Parvez and Minoo have a young son Farid (Akbar Kurtha) who is a bit unsettled as a Pakistani adjusting to life in capitalistic England and has found a girlfriend Madeline (Sarah-Jane Potts) who happens to be the daughter of the Chief Police Inspector Fingerhut (Geoffrey Bateman). Despite the fact that Parvez and his wife would prefer Farid marry a Pakistani girl they consent to an engagement party, a turning point for the politically tenuous Farid. When Farid observes how the Fingerhut family snubs his Pakistani parents and background he explodes and instead joins a fundamentalist Muslim group, pledging his life to stamping out porn, drugs, evil, etc.

Parvez attempts reconciliation with his wildly fanatical son but the only person with whom he can communicate is a hooker named Bettina/Sandra (Rachel Griffiths) who has a heart of gold and is only in the Profession to make enough money to become a teacher. Parvez is a driver for a pimp service and he is assigned to escort a wealthy smarmy German Schitz (Stellan Skarsgård) through a series of encounters, encounters that involve Bettina among others. But along the way Bettina softens to Parvez, listens to his anguish about his son, and eventually becomes Parvez' paramour. When Farid's fundamentalist group is attacking the brothel where Bettina works he discovers his father's situation and is enraged: Parvez, Farid and Minoo must come to an understanding - and it is this manner of coping that provides a very touching ending to the film.

The story holds its own as a movie, but the underlying content is pungent, intelligent, perceptive, insightful and very cogent. Each member of the cast is excellent but Om Puri proves once again that he can carry a film with a questionable character strongly on his shoulders. Not only is this a fine little comedy drama to watch, it also provides some serious food for thought. Grady Harp, March 07

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