The film was first shown on 12 September 2010 at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. It premiered at the BFI London Film Festival on 19 October 2010, followed by UK and Irish release on 25 February 2011. The first US showing was on 2 November 2010 at the South Asian International Film Festival, followed by several other US festivals. While it was released in Canada on 25 March 2011, it never received a US release.
The film is set in the year 1976, five years after the original film East Is East. Little is known about most of the Khan children, except that they seldom communicate with their parents. Tariq is now a hippie (looking like George Harrison) who runs a new age shop with older brother Nazir and has an English girlfriend who is unaware of his true ethnicity, and Maneer is living with his extended family in Pakistan where he is searching for a suitable wife. Sajid, the youngest, who no longer wears a parka, is a truant who is constantly bullied due to his Pakistani background, although the headmaster—a former British soldier who had served in the Punjab—is sympathetic and encourages him to embrace his heritage. After Sajid is caught shoplifting, his father George, who has somewhat retained his bullying nature, attacks him at home. When Sajid retaliates by calling him a "dirty Paki bastard", a devastated George states all of his other children in England have become British and he cannot lose Sajid as well, so he decides to take him to Pakistan to meet his extended family and show him that life there is better, though Ella openly disapproves.
On arriving in Pakistan, George and Sajid are greeted by a few of George's relatives including Tavnir, a lazy man who often tries to swindle George—and is his son-in-law through his marriage to one of George's daughters with his first wife Basheera. On the family farm, George is reunited with Basheera and their daughters, whom he had abandoned thirty years before, and hands out gifts to all, then tells them that he has come for a month to find Maneer a wife, but he soon discovers that no family will offer their daughter in marriage as they fear that Maneer will leave his wife for an English woman as his father George did when he left Basheera for Ella. Furious, George blames his family in England, but Maneer reminds him that he himself is at fault, and Basheera is also angry with George for abandoning her when she needed him.
When Tavnir explains to Sajid that he will not tolerate any trouble, he is abruptly told to "fuck off". Sajid is taken to the local school for enrolment, where he meets spiritual teacher Pir Naseem and local boy Zaid who Sajid loathes at first and refuses to enrol. Zaid, who can speak basic English as he is being taught by Pir Naseem, advises him, and the two soon become friends. Zaid teaches him Pakistani ways and Pir Naseem promises George that he will discipline his son when he misbehaves. Sajid gradually appreciates his culture and new surroundings which pleases George, except that he is slightly jealous of the bond that develops between his son and Pir Naseem. Eventually Sajid meets Rochdale-born Pakistani woman Neelam, who bears a striking resemblance to Maneer's favourite singer Nana Mouskouri; like Maneer she is also looking for a spouse, and with her approval Sajid plans a meeting between the pair.
Meanwhile, Ella, who soon discovers that George has withdrawn the family savings to build a house for his family in Pakistan, travels to Pakistan with her best friend Annie in tow, and is furious when she finds that her husband is building a house for his family. She also plans to take Sajid back to England with her, and is shocked when her son refuses to leave. During her stay there, Ella fights with Basheera and her daughters, and refuses to give them access to the new house, but upon realising how alike they are the two put their differences aside and become friends. Maneer and Neelam soon marry, and George for the first time in years begins to appreciate Ella as a wife who stood by him during hard times. The film ends with George and his England-based family returning home and Sajid finally proud of his Asian background, whilst George's chippy now serves Pakistani-style kebabs.Om Puri as George
Linda Bassett as Ella
Aqib Khan as Sajid
Lesley Nicol as Annie
Jimi Mistry as Tariq
Ila Arun as Basheera
Emil Marwa as Maneer
Vijay Raaz as Tanvir
Vanessa Hehir as Esther
Robert Pugh as Headmaster Jordan
Zita Sattar as Neelam
Nadim Sawalha as Pir Naseem
Raj Bhansali as Zaid
Om Puri, Linda Bassett, Lesley Nicol, Jimi Mistry, and Emil Marwa are the only actors from the original movie who reprise their roles in West is West. Zita Sattar who plays Neelam was Meena, George and Ella's only daughter, in the original stage production of East Is East.
Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy composed the score. Rob Lane arranged it. The songs were recorded in Purple Rain studio, in Mumbai. Rob Lane joined Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy to compose music for the film. They used several Indian classical instruments like Jaltarang, Santoor, Flute and Sarangi. The renowned Jaltarang player Milind Tulnkar was roped in to play the instrument for ten to twelve sequences.
The film received mixed reviews, scoring 68% on Rotten Tomatoes with 15 fresh and seven rotten reviews. Several reviewers noted that while the film still had the sense of humour of East Is East, it did not reach the level attained in the original. In his review for the Globe and Mail, Rick Groen noted the "sudden leaps into unabashed melodrama", saying that "When they fail, the hurlyburly gets annoying. But when they succeed, the result can be genuinely touching."
Sukhdev Sandhu of The Daily Telegraph in his review described the soundtrack as "delightful". Rediff reviewer Shaikh Ayaz, in his review, stated "The music is beautifully cherry-picked, mixing Sufi tunes with Punjabi folk music." Nikhat Kazmi of Times of India, in her review, said that the "soulful music" of the movie was memorable. Pankaj Sabnani of Glamsham also gave the music a thumbs up, saying "Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy's music is excellent and gels well with the film." Daily Bhaskar review described the music as "soothing" and "situational".