Originally devised for television, Kureishi’s first screenplay was shot on a low budget in only six weeks. Set in Thatcher-era south London, the film is a ground-breaking exploration of race, class, politics and sexuality. It centres on Omar, a young British-Pakistani man who is given the opportunity to renovate his uncle’s laundrette, and Johnny, his boyhood friend who has fascist sympathies and who becomes Omar’s lover. The romantic relationship between these young men develops alongside the film’s other concerns ─ such as the British Asian struggle to maintain ethnic identity while assimilating into Western society, represented by Papa Hussain, an alcoholic, disillusioned socialist, and Uncle Nasser, a rich entrepreneur.
The film stars Saeed Jaffrey (Nasser), Roshan Seth (Papa Hussain), Daniel Day Lewis (Johnny) and Gordon Warnecke (Omar). My Beautiful Laundrette became a huge commercial and critical success after it was applauded by film critics at the Edinburgh Film Festival, leading to international distribution for cinema in 1986 and an Oscar nomination for Kureishi.
What are continuity notes?
When shooting a film, continuity notes are logged for every take to ensure continuity between screen direction, action, costume, props, and so on. Photographs, like the Polaroids shown here, support the work. Written in a messy hand, these notes convey the sense of an animated atmosphere on set.
For a film that is so concerned with identity and boundaries between characters, the continuity notes emphasise the role of costume as a signifier of status. Note the flash suit and aviator sunglasses worn by nouveau riche drug trafficker Salim, and the transformation of Omar from an unemployed lad in jeans and sweatshirt to the cleaned-up, suited businessman who is increasingly swayed by Thatcherite economic competiveness.
- Full title:
- Hanif Kureishi Papers: Continuity and costume notes for My Beautiful Laundrette by Hanif Kureishi: 1985
- Manuscript / Photograph / Image
- Penny Eyles, Hanif Kureishi
- Usage terms
© Hanif Kureishi. You may not use the material for commercial purposes. Please credit the copyright holder when reusing this work.
Penny Eyles (Continuity and script supervisor for My Beautiful Laundrette): © Penny Eyles. Published under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial Licence.
- Held by
- British Library
- Add MS 89091/4/9
- Article by:
- Sukhdev Sandhu
- Literature 1950–2000, Capturing and creating the modern, Exploring identity
Hanif Kureishi's 1985 film My Beautiful Laundrette portrays a young British Asian man who runs a laundrette with his white schoolfriend, and the romantic relationship between the two. Sukhdev Sandhu explains how the film marked a radical departure from previous representations of British Asians in mainstream culture.