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My Son the Fanatic (1997)

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Pakistani taxi-driver Parvez and prostitute Bettina find themselves trapped in the middle when Islamic fundamentalists decide to clean up their local town.

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(short story),
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1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Parvez
...
Bettina / Sandra
...
Farid
...
Schitz
Gopi Desai ...
Minoo
...
Fizzy
...
Madeline Fingerhut (as Sarah Jane Potts)
Judi Jones ...
Mrs. Fingerhut
Geoffrey Bateman ...
Chief Inspector Fingerhut
...
Drunk man
Moya Brady ...
Druggy prostitute
Badi Uzzaman ...
Man in mosque
Andy Devine ...
Comedian
Shiv Grewal ...
Waiter
Marc Anwar ...
Rashid (as Omar Salimi)
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Storyline

Parvez was born in Lahore, Pakistan, and as a child was asked to study the Holy scriptures through a Maulvi. When the Maulvi started his sermon, Parvez would fall asleep, this lead to the Maulvi devising a unique punishment, which ultimately compelled Parvez to stop attending. When he grew up, his marriage was arranged with Minoo and they immigrated to a small town in Britain, where Parvez started to make a living driving a taxi, and found himself free from all religious activity. 25 years later, Parvez is an alcoholic, still driving a cab, while people who had immigrated after him have their own businesses and are wealthier. Parvez now has a grown son, Farid, who is the apple of his eye, and is to be engaged to Madeleine Fingerhut, who is the daughter of the local Chief Inspector. After the two families' meet, Farid has a sudden change of heart when he notices that the Chief Inspector detests his family, and it slowly dawns on him that he and his girlfriend are quite different, and ... Written by rAjOo (gunwanti@hotmail.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality, language and a scene of drug use | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

7 January 1998 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Gyilkosságra nevelve  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$38,399 (USA) (25 June 1999)

Gross:

$408,339 (USA) (30 July 1999)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

[first lines]
Mrs. Fingerhut: [putting away photo album] Madeline was a delightful girl. She still is, of course.
Parvez: And a little bit plumpish at times. As you said, twice.
Minoo: [misunderstanding] Rice is very good. For reducing diet.
Parvez: Cricket is excellent. Farid was captain. Mrs. Fingerhut - Hilda - this boy of ours, I can assure you he's all-around type, going whole hog. But not on the field. At school he carried the prizes home. Now is college he's top student of year.
Parvez: Oh, it's not difficult.
Farid: [smirks]
See more »

Connections

Featured in Siskel & Ebert: Episode dated 3 July 1999 (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

My Heaven
Alton Ellis and Eddie Parkins with Aubrey Adams and the Dewdroppers
(Ellis)
Happy Valley Music/Topic Music
© Heartbeat records
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Dark and unconventional comedy
13 July 2002 | by (New York, NY) – See all my reviews

My Son The Fanatic demands repeated viewings for its appreciation. It is a dark comedy about an affable taxi driver in the throes of an alcoholic depression, and the eventual disintegration of his family unit.

It starts off making you think that this is going to be a comedy about a social-ladder-climbing father undermined by his son's discovery and subsequent rapture of Islamic fundamentalism. When re-viewing the consistency of the tones and hues, it seems that most scenes are being seen through the main character's (Parvez) eyes. And he turns out to be the most unreliable of narrators -- a literary device difficult to translate into film. In most of the darker and smoky hues, Parvez seems to be a warm, loving, tolerant, supportive, and protective soul.

In the lighter-toned scenes, we learn that Parvez is actually is clueless to who he is and how he is perceived. The fact is that he is a pathetic failure as a husband, father, and "career" man -- a 25-year taxi driver in a poor town in England (Does anyone know what city/town this is supposed to be? It was unclear to me.) where the cab drivers serve as a conduit between prostitutes and their clients. Throughout the movie, he sinks further into the throes of an alcoholic depression. He is an affable and engaging drunk, but a drunk nonetheless.

His son's rejection of his depressed and drunken father manifests itself in turning to Islamic Fundamentalism. His wife tries to awaken him as to what is going on, but to no avail. Pervez's sodden eyes sees life only in his own terms. Pervez sees the holy man as a fraud, and thus invents a scene in his mind that everyone else denies, played in near-total darkness, where the holy man asks him for immigration help from his (actually non-existent) political connections with the Fingerhuts, who despise him.

Someone else correctly pointed out that the son's adulation of Ayatollah Khomeni is inconsistent with the Pakistani fundamentalist sects that populate Karachi. This is the one well-lit scene where falsehood prevails, but I think that was just a fact-checking error.

As he sinks deeper, Pervez conjures up a loving relationship with his favorite whore, the reality of which is depicted in the final scenes as the credits roll.

The movie was never really about his son at all. His life was never really about the love he invested in his family at all. It is about a disintegration of a once-noble soul due to depression and alcoholism, and how the world looks through his forgiving eyes.

This is a fascinating study in duality, but you need to watch it twice to see it that way. Bravura performances by Puri, the actress who played the wife, and Griffiths as the multi-wigged prostitute are a joy to behold. There are slow and murky patches, but worth sticking with as a fascinating exploration into the culture clashes and reality blurring characteristic of alcoholic depression -- a disease with an acutely higher incidence in the UK among Asian immigrants.

Well worth watching.


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