Typescript draft of My Beautiful Laundrette, labelled 'draft one', by Hanif Kureishi


This is a draft, in typescript, of My Beautiful Laundrette, a 1985 film written by Hanif Kureishi and directed by Stephen Frears. It is labelled ‘draft one’, although an earlier draft can be found in Kureishi’s archive (Add MS 89091/4/2).

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 an 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 does this early draft of My Beautiful Laundrette reveal?

Shown here are three extracts from ‘draft one’ of My Beautiful Laundrette.

The first and second extracts show Kureishi developing the screenplay’s comedy. In the first, featuring Omar and Nasser’s initial scene at the rundown laundrette, Kureishi has written in the offbeat, reoccurring ‘telephone man gag’. In the second, taken from scenes of the laundrette’s opening day, Kureishi changes Omar’s remark of ‘Tired, uncle’ (found in the previous draft) to the double-entendre, ‘Shagged out, uncle’.

The final extract is from the closing scene. Like the previous draft, the ending is bleak compared to the film’s conclusion. Here Kureishi has added in a violent attack on Salim (which, together with Johnny’s intervention, is retained in the final version of the screenplay). There is no reconciliation between Omar and Johnny. Johnny washes his cuts and bruises on his own, and the final scene closes with ‘OMAR driving South London streets looking for JOHNNY’, who, fed up with this money-orientated existence, has ‘packed his things and left’.

Full title:
Hanif Kureishi Papers: My Beautiful Laundrette by Hanif Kureishi, 'draft one': 1984
Manuscript / Typescript / Draft
Hanif Kureishi
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© Hanif Kureishi. You may not use the material for commercial purposes. Please credit the copyright holder when reusing this work.

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British Library
Add MS 89091/4/3

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