My Beautiful Laundrette

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"My Beautiful Laundrette"

Hanif Kureishi's screenplay is a coming of age portrayal of British life in the 1980s, from the point of view of a first generation Pakistani. Omar's story is a representation of the cultural shift away from traditional values. This cultural divide is compounded by sexual, ethnic and class differences as revealed through the character of Omar, whose own identity lacks consistent identification.

In the film, Omar is referred to as an "in between" by his uncle's Pakistani wife. He is ethnically from Pakistan, but born in Britain, therefore having no direct personal link to Pakistani culture other than what is transmitted to him by his father. Much like Karim in Kureishi's Buddha of Suburbia, Omar is not able to identify with either Pakistani or British culture, putting him at a constant crux of identification.

As part of being in between cultures, Omar embodies the anti-traditional shift happening in mainstream culture, specifically in dealing with relationships. His father urges him to get married to Tanya in order to follow the traditional Pakistani way of life. Their union would not be based on love, and its only role would be to fulfill the traditional expectations outlined by a culture group with which Omar doesn't fully identify. Omar is not the only one in conflict with his father's marriage insistence; Tanya has no interest in the matter, preferring to be independent. For this rebuttal, Tanya represents the rise in feminism by insisting on being in control herself, rather than have her life dictated by her father. Omar also resists his father's traditionally defined life plan, and becomes involved in a relationship with Johnny, a blond British rebellious boy. His relationship with Johnny contrasts traditional expectations as a result of its being based on emotions and love. His uncle's relationship with Rachel acts as a further illustration of cultural immersion, modeling his embracement of British culture by rejecting...
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