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Set within the Asian Community in London, this is an unusual love story concerned with identity and entrepreneurial spirit during the Thatcher years.  A young Pakistani man, Omar takes over the running of his wheeler-dealer uncle’s launderette with the intention of turning it into a glittering, commercial success.  When he employs a childhood friend and ex-National Front member Johnny they become lovers as well as working partners.  However, complications soon ensue as the anger of Johnny’s deserted gang begins to build and Omar is forced to face increasingly difficult family issues.


MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE explores the world of modern Pakistanis trapped between two cultures in Thatcher’s Britain and their white working class counterparts with no future in their own country.  The story also highlights the dilemma at the heart of the immigrant experience – the desires to belong to Western society while maintaining a clear sense of Pakistani identity.


MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE is a highly acclaimed and beautifully rendered portrait of two boyhood friends struggling to survive in racially tense Thatcher-era Britain.  One a Pakistani with an ailing father, and the other a National Front hard boy with nothing and no-one, fall in love.


In November 2004 Alex Loveless and Pip Pickering began a musical development of Hanif Kureishi’s 1980’s seminal screenplay for the stage.  Now, with a developed score and strong artistic alliances – an extraordinary piece of theatre is in the making. 


Nearly two decades have passed since this comedy was released about the unlikely romance between a working-class British thug and a first-generation Pakistani entrepreneur, set against the bleak turbulence of Thatcher’s England.  As an impressionable teenager in 1985, I was dazzled by the film’s cool and knowing appraisal of polymorphous Londoners – hoodlums, punks, dealers, gays, dreamers – with uncontainable hearts and irresistibly grimy glamour.


But does it hold up? While the film now has the look of a 1980’s period piece, and its provocation has mellowed, the story remains a smart, ageless narrative in the tradition of Romeo and Juliet – and in its wry perusal of nationalist xenophobes and immigrant Muslims, MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE remains fully relevant.


(Neda Ulaby for NPR, November 2004)


Hauntingly resonant, even today

(From a film review by Nicola Osborne, 2000)