FM2: British Film Topics Thatcher’s BritainMy Beautiful Laundrette (1985), Stephen Frears, Channel Four Films/WorkingTitle, UKOmarUnemployed; Living with his Father; looking forwardto college; intelligent (organises his uncles’ accountsfor his garage); does not speak Urdu very well“Doesn’t he understand his own language?” (Aunt toNassar)After he is given the laundrette:“I want everything done now. That’s the only attitude if you want to achievebig!” (to Johnny)Demands £50 for his second job for Salim; recognises crime as a possibleway to succeed and prove his worthJohnnyHas left home; no job or fixed address.; Johnny and his gang are squatting inhouses. They are evicted by the owners who are black and Asian, one ofwhom is Nassar (Omar’s Uncle).“I don’t get on with my mum and dad”National Front member/racist; was a school friend of Omar’s. They driftedabout through social and racial division; becomes involved in a gayrelationship with Omar.Johnny begins to regret his racist past and re-evaluates his position in society.(Johnny to his National Front friends): “I want to do some work for a change.”To Omar “You’re getting greedy.”PapaSocialist; dislike of Thatcher’s politics; heavy drinker; sends Omar to work withNassar (his brother) in his garage“He’s on the dole like everyone else in England!”“The working class is such a disappointment to me.”“We must have knowledge if we are to see who is doing what to this country!”Uncle NassarRich; Westernised; successful businessman; having an affair with a whitewoman(Uncle Salim to Nassar) “…you’re too busy keeping this country in the black.”“You won’t be in the dole queue. Mrs Thatcher will be happy with me!” (aboutOmar)“In this country which we hate and love you can get anything you want.” (toOmar).Omar: “I don’t want to sweep up!”Nassar: “What are you, the Labour party?“We’ll drink to Thatcher and our beautiful laundrette!”“I’m a professional businessman, not a traditional Pakistani. There’s no roomfor race in the entrepreneurial culture!”
FM2: British Film Topics Thatcher’s BritainOmar’s AuntProud of her Pakistani roots; does not think of England as her home.“I’m sick of these in-betweeners. People should make up their mind of whatthey are!” (To Omar after discussing their visit to Karachi, Pakistan, whichthey regard as ‘home’).SalimHuge house; art collection; expensive/luxury goods- stereo/tv etc.; involved indrug trafficking (cocaine)“This laundrette is a dead duck!” (to Omar)Suggests that Omar should resort to crime to make himself successful(About Omar’s socialist father): “We are nothing in this country withoutmoney!”Violent and vengeful: “What this scum needs is a taste of their own piss!” (ToNational Front gang as he attempts to knock them down in his car)Tanya“I don’t like women who live off men. It’s parasitical!”Young, attractive, sexually activeScene Analysis: In Nassar’s bedroom with his ’business associates’ • From this scene, what do learn about life in Britain in the context of private business and enterprise in the 1980’s?Scene analysis: Johnny is introduced to Nassar and family as Nassar’shouse; Omar (to Nassar about Johnny): “He’s lower class. He won’t come inunless he doing a burglary!”; Johnny is hired by Nassar as ‘muscle’ to evicttenants and squatters from the houses he owns • What is the power relationship here between Nassar, Omar and Johnny? What does this tell us about power relationships in terms of class, wealth and ethnicity?
FM2: British Film Topics Thatcher’s BritainScene in the Laundrette: opening dayOmar and Johnny kiss and embrace in the back room; Nassar and his whitemistress dance on the shop floor • To what extent might the events in this scene be seen as representative of a complete breakdown in traditional conservative values?Falling apart…Uncle Nassar: Affair ends after his mistress leaves him following a row withhis daughterAunt: (Nassar’s wife): Wants to go back to PakistanSalim: Wants money from Omar for taking some of his cocaine and selling ithimself.Johnny and Omar: they resort to stealing from Omar’s family to get themoney. • Why do you think it was important for the film makers to emphasise this complete breakdown in Omar’s social and economic relationships?Scene analysis: Nassar and his Brother (Omar’s Father) have a tearfulreconciliation.Papa to Nassar: “This damn country has done us both in!”(Nassar to Papa about Pakistan): “That country has been sodomised byreligion!” • What parallels can you draw between Papa and Nassar, and the political divide in 1980’s Britain?The Laundrette • A representation of Britain in the 1980’s? Discuss this point.