Sunday, April 6, 2008

My Buddhaful Laundrette

Set in South London, MBL has a surprising number of shared themes with BOS (as noted by other bloggers.) You have a young Pakistani (Omar) struggling throughout the ranks of British society to establish himself while sharing the companionship of Johnny, and Englishman who eventually becomes his lover. Also you have somewhat of a rebellious indifference to people around him in the character of Omar, very similar to Karim. What is slightly different from BOS however, is that the initial job provided to Omar is from his Uncle, who is a wealthy Pakistani. Eva, as well as Shadwell and Pyke in contrast were wealthy British folks. There is then an interesting dynamic between Omar and his uncle Nasser who represents something very different from Eva in BOS. He says to Omar after giving him a job, "You will be able to only afford a shirt but at least you are with your own people." At one point he also gives Omar the advice "In this country, which we all both hate and love, you can get anything you want, but you have to learn to squeeze the tits of the system." I think this aptly answers the questions many had as to why the Pakistani's didn't return home. There is a greater prosperity they thought could be achieved. However, it was an exchange that more often than not caused them to lose their identity and become "homeless" in a sense. Later another Pakistani says defensively "This is not my home, how could anyone consider this little island their home." Many of the characters also consider themselves confused and hating this confusion, one character demands that people "make up their mind where they are," and that she was "sick of the in-betweenness." I think this aptly captures the mentality of Hanif Kureishi, who frequently found himself caught between cultures and personalities. I wonder how much this sentiment is reflected by immigrants into other countries (say those who immigrate into the United States for example) or if there was something distinct about British culture that made it more difficult for immigrants to get along. Overall though this movie held far more in common with BOS than different and I found some of the themes at this point perhaps a little overused. MBL was written first though, which makes me think that maybe it was the precursor that allowed Kureishi's later work of BOS.

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