The narrative deals with the problems of Parvez, who has migrated to England with his son Ali. Parvez worries because Ali’s behavior has changed significantly. Early in the story, Parvez is afraid of discussing his worries with his friends because his son has always been a kind of showpiece son. Eventually, Parvez breaks his silence and tells them how his son has changed, hoping to receive some advice. After having a short conversation, they come to the conclusion that his son might be addicted to drugs and that he sells his things to earn money to buy drugs. After this meeting, Parvez goes to his taxi to drive home. But in his car he finds Bettina, a prostitute, who drives with Parvez very often and has become a confidante. Since Parvez has defended Bettina from a client who had attacked her, they take care of each other. Parvez tells Bettina what he has observed and that he and his friends assume that his son does all these strange things because he is drug addicted. Bettina instructs Parvez on how he has to observe his son to find out if there is anything physically wrong with him. However, after a few days of observations Parvez decides that his son appears totally healthy. The only physical change Parvez observes is that Ali is growing a beard. And it turns out that his son does not sell his things. He just gives them away.
Parvez notices that Ali prays five times a day, although he had not been brought up to be religious. Parvez decides to invite his son to dinner to talk to him about his recent behavior. Initially, Ali refuses this invitation, but later he accepts it. Parvez drinks a lot during this meeting and they start to argue. Ali criticizes his father’s way of life because in his opinion his father is "too implicated in Western civilization" (Kureishi 2001: 157) and breaks the Koran’s rules by drinking alcohol and eating pork.
Ali tells his father that he is going to give up his studies because from his point of view, “Western education cultivates an anti-religious attitude.” (Kureishi 2001: ) Parvez feels he has lost his son and wants to tell him to leave the house. But Bettina changes his mind and Parvez resolves to try to understand what is going on in his son’s mind. During the next days Parvez tries to explain cautiously to his son what his ideas and attitudes towards life are. He even grows a beard to please Ali. But Ali still holds his father in contempt for not following the rules of the Koran. A few days later while Parvez is driving in his taxi with Bettina he sees his son walking down the sidewalk. Parvez asks Ali to come in and drive with them. In the car, Bettina starts to have a conversation with Ali, but as she tries to explain to Ali that his father loves him very much, Ali becomes angry and offends Bettina. Afterwards he wants to escape from the car, but Bettina preempts him. She leaves the car when it is still moving and runs away. Back at home Parvez drinks a lot of alcohol because he is furious at his son. He walks into Ali’s room and attacks his son who does not show any kind of reaction to protect or defend himself. When Parvez stops hitting him, Ali asks his father: "Who is the fanatic now?" The Short Story in Comparison to the Film
The film differs significantly from the short story. The order of events is changed and new events and characters are added. Even the name Ali is changed to Farid. The short story is set in London, South East of England, and the film is set in Bradford which lies in Northern England. The new characters in the film are “the maulvi from Lahore, Fizzie and Herr Schitz.” (Moore- Gilbert 2001: 164)
Another important invention of the film is the change of the relationship between Parvez and Bettina. In the short story it is mentioned that Bettina and Parvez take “care for each other” (Kureishi 1997: 151) since Parvez has protected Bettina of a very violent client. We do not learn that in the film. It is also...
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