Typescript introduction to My Beautiful Laundrette by Hanif Kureishi


This is a typescript of Hanif Kureishi’s introduction to My Beautiful Laundrette, first published in 1986, one year after the was first released. In the piece, Kureishi reveals details about his writing process.

The screenplay went through radical revisions, mainly due to the fact that the film was made on a small budget and because this was Kureishi’s film script – previously he had written primarily for the theatre. The original version of the film was intended to begin like a Godfather-esque ‘epic’, opening in the past with the arrival of an immigrant family in the UK and containing ambitious ‘large-scale set pieces of racist marches with scenes of mass violence’. Kureishi eventually realised that it would be impossible to make a film on this scale and decided to set the story solely in the present day.

He explains how he was determined to weave comedy and irony into the screenplay:

...the film was to be an amusement, despite its references to racism, unemployment and Thatcherism. Irony is the modern mode, a way of commenting on bleakness and cruelty without falling into dourness and didacticism. And ever since the first time I heard people in a theatre laugh during a play of mine, I’ve wanted it to happen again and again.

Throughout the piece Kureishi reflects on his experience of writing for the theatre and the fact that, commissioned by Channel 4, My Beautiful Laundrette was first shown on television. Here, Kureishi bluntly presents his opinion of the significant advantage that television drama offered over theatre:

people watched it; difficult challenging [things] could be said about contemporary life. The theatre, despite the efforts of touring companies and so on, has failed to get its ideas beyond a small enthusiastic audience.

Full title:
Hanif Kureishi Papers: Introduction to My Beautiful Laundrette by Hanif Kureishi: c. 1986-1995
c. 1986–95
Manuscript / Typescript
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
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