Ayub Khan Din

Ayub Khan Din
© Donald Maclellan/Getty Images


Early life as an actor

Ayub Khan Din was born in 1961 in Salford. He studied drama first at the Salford College of Technology, and trained as an actor at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.

As an actor, Khan Din has appeared in a number of British films and TV series including Stephen Frears and Hanif Kureishi’s Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, in which he played the title role of Sammy. In the 1980s and early 1990s he performed mainly in works for the stage.

First plays: East Is East

During his early career as an actor Khan Din started to write, and his first play, East Is East, was produced in 1996 by the Tamasha Theatre Company in co-production with the Royal Court and Birmingham Repertory Theatre. It told the story of a large Anglo-Pakistani family headed by volatile fish-and-chip shop owner George, and explored the complexities of British-Asian identity. The play was inspired by Khan Din's childhood in Salford. Like the play’s characters, his father was British-Pakistani and his mother was white; Khan Din has said in interviews that the character of Sajid Khan is a self-portrait.

It was a critical success, and is now regarded as one of the landmark plays in contemporary British theatre. There have been a number of major revivals. In a 2014 revival directed by Sam Yates, Khan Din played the role of George himself.

In 1999, a film version of East Is East was produced, adapted for the screen by Khan Din and starring Om Puri as the father and Linda Bassett as the mother. A critical and commercial success, it won the 1999 BAFTA Award for Outstanding British Film.

Later work

In 2007 Kahn Din's play Rafta, Rafta..., which reset Bill Naughton’s play All in Good Time in Bolton’s Indian community, premiered at the National Theatre in a production directed by Nicholas Hytner and starring Meera Syal. It was later filmed using Naughton’s original title.

Khan-Din’s sequel to East Is East, West Is West, was released in 2011 with Puri and Bassett reprising their roles. Also partially autobiographical, the film – set five years after the original – saw George taking his youngest son to Pakistan. Both titles come from the Rudyard Kipling poem ‘The Ballad of East and West, the opening line of which reads: ‘Oh East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet’.

Related articles

Revisiting East Is East

Article by:
Sarfraz Manzoor
20th-century theatre, Exploring identity

The play East is East, first performed in 1996 and adapted as a film in 1999, explores the lives of a Pakistani immigrant, his British wife and their children in 1970s Salford. Sarfraz Manzoor considers how far attitudes towards Asian immigrants have changed since the 1970s, and recounts his own changing response to East is East over the past two decades.

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