Rita Banerjee will introduce and lead the discussion for Stephen Frears’s 1985 film, My Beautiful Laundrette, on Thursday July 9 from 6-8:30 pm for the Institute for Indology and Tibetology at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. The screening is part of the course Modernity and the South Asian Imaginaire at LMU. Anyone interested in Modern South Asian literature, history, or art house film is welcomed to join the screening.
My Beautiful Laundrette, written by Hanif Kureishi and directed by Stephen Frears, is the first real sleeper of 1985. The film is a rude, wise, vivid social comedy about Pakistani immigrants in London, , particularly about the initially naive, university-age Omar (Gordon Warnecke) and Omar’s extended family of wheeler-dealers and unassimilated layabouts. ”Take my advice,” says Omar’s Uncle Nasser (Saeed Jaffrey) early in the film, ”there’s money in muck.” Omar heeds his uncle and enlists the aid of Johnny (Daniel Day Lewis), a Cockney mate from his school days. Together, Omar and Johnny set out to revitalize ”Churchill’s,” a failing laundromat, owned by Nasser, in a seedy section of London where enthusiastic, hustling immigrants are at odds with alienated, disenfranchised natives. Like the film itself, the relationship between Omar and Johnny is not quite as simple as it initially seems. Both men are outsiders. In the years since he and Omar were first friends, Johnny has drifted from one jobless limbo to the next. When Omar meets him again, Johnny is affecting a punk haircut and, with his pals, bashing Pakistanis, mostly because there’s nothing better to do. It gradually becomes clear why Johnny has agreed to give up his street life to join Omar, who, being a Pakistani, isn’t easily explained to his Cockney pals. Johnny is bored with his own aimlessness. He never quite admits it, but he’d like to get ahead in the world. Further, and most important, he’s in love with Omar, something that Omar responds to and, like the hustler he’s becoming, uses to his own advantage. ~ Vincent Canby, The New York Times.