Theme - Alienation, identity crisis, sexuality

colonial mentality

race, ethnicity, otherization, migration,

Johnny’s arc friend racist friend

Omar’s arc

Borrowing words from Graham Fuller’s essay for The Criterion Collection

Its specific critique of postcolonial Britain is achieved through Kureishi’s battery of conflicts—between whites and Asians, between whites and whites, between the Asian and African diasporas, between Asian brother and brother, between Asian parents and their adult children, between men and women.

class conflict;



  1. Omar Ali - a young British Pakistani man living in South London. Ambitious and determined to succeed

  2. Johnny Burfoot - Omar’s friend and eventual romantic partner. A former schoolmate who has turned to petty crime. He becomes involved in renovating and managing the laundrette with Omar. Though close to Omar and his dad, Johnny was spotted by Papa at a rally that wanted Pakistani immigrants to go back.

  3. Nasser - Omar’s uncle and the owner of the rundown laundrette. Opportunist. Foil to Omar’s dad.

  4. Papa / Hussein- Omar’s father, who struggles with alcoholism. Used to be a powerful journalist. Wife died of suicide. a left-wing journalist who dislikes Britain’s society and international politics

  5. Salim-

  6. Tania- Nasser’s daughter. Is set up to be married with Omar but finds out that he is gay. Independent woman. Breaks free.

  7. Rachel- A white British woman who is Nasser’s mistress.

  8. Bilquis - Nasser’s wife who makes potions to punish Rachel once she finds out about their affair

  9. Cherry - Salim’s fiancée

  10. Moose, Genghis


  • Omar lives in South London with his father.
  • Hussein is hesitant but asks Nasser to give Omar a job. Nasser offers Omar a job.
  • Omar meets Salim. Washes cars. Meets Nasser and Rachel, his mistress.
  • Omar meets Nasser’s family. Tania takes a special interest in him.
  • Salim asks Omar to drive him back. Omar, Salim, and Cherry are attacked by right-wing extremist street punks, led by Johnny.
  • Omar gets out of the car without fear and meets Johnny. They re-establish their past friendship
  • Nasser offers Omar a rundown laundrette. Omar takes and hires Johnny.
  • To raise money for the laundrette, Omar and Johnny steal and sell the drugs that Salim asked Omar to deliver.
  • Salim catches on. He asks them to return the money. Hits Omar.
  • Salim is onto Omar and Johnny’s homosexual relationship. Warns them again to return the money.
  • Omar confronts Johnny regarding his right-wing views. Johnny says that he can’t do anything about the past but that he is with Omar now.
  • Omar proposes to Tania, who accepts on the condition that he raises money to escape.
  • Laundrette opens, Salim demands his money from the drug sale
  • Tania confronts Rachel in the laundrette. This causes Rachel and Nasser to split.
  • Omar’s father appeals to Johnny to persuade him to go to college.
  • Omar and Johnny break into a house to steal in order to repay Salim.
  • Salim and Omar team up, they buy two laundrettes from Zaki. Salim sees the same punks from earlier, decides to teach them a lesson and almost runs over one of them.
  • Later, the gang waits for Salim at the laundrette. They first destroy his car and then beat him up. Johnny steps in and protects Salim but doesn’t strike back as he doesn’t want to hurt his ex-gang mates. Omar finally comes and breaks the fight.
  • Omar cares for Johnny at the laundrette, and the film ends with them shirtless and splashing each other with water playfully


‘Opium is the opium of the unemployed’.

Nasser: In this damn country which we hate and love, you can get anything you want. It’s all spread out and available. That’s why I believe in England. You just have to know how to squeeze the tits of the system.

Don’t get too involved with that crook. You’ve got to study. We are under siege by the white man. For us education is power.

Oh God, I’m so sick of hearing about these in-betweens. People should make up their minds where they are.

They hate us in England. And all you do is kiss their arses and think of yourself as a little Britisher!

SALIM: You’ve got too much white blood. It’s made you weak like those pale-faced adolescents that call us wog. You know what I do to them? I take out this. (He takes out a pound note. He tears it to pieces.) I say: your English pound is worthless. It’s worthless like you, Omar, are worthless. Your whole great family – rich and powerful over there – is let down by you.

OMAR : (Voice over) It’ll be going into profit any day now. Partly because I’ve hired a bloke of outstanding competence and strength of body and mind to look after it with me.

NASSER: Speak in English, Zaki, so this boy can understand.

NASSER : But this is the point. He’s hired someone else to do the work! ZAKI : Typically English, if I can say that.

OMAR : (To SALIM) In my small opinion, much good can come of fucking.

OMAR: He’s lower class. He won’t come in without being asked. Unless he’s doing a burglary.

OMAR: This could be a Ritz among laundrettes.

GENGHIS : Why are you working for them? For these people? You were with us once. For England. JOHNNY : It’s work. I want to work. I’m fed up of hanging about. GENGHIS : I’m angry. I don’t like to see one of our men grovelling to Pakis. They came here to work for us. That’s why we brought them over. OK?

Don’t cut yourself off from your own people. Because there’s no one else who really wants you. Everyone has to belong.

NASSER : But we’re professional businessmen. Not professional Pakistanis. There’s no race question in the new enterprise culture.

The laundrette is finished. And the place looks terrific: pot plants; a TV on which videos are showing; a sound system; and the place is brightly painted and clean.

OMAR : What were they doing on marches through Lewisham? It was bricks and bottles and Union Jacks. It was immigrants out. It was kill us. People we knew. And it was you. He saw you marching. You saw his face, watching you. Don’t deny it. We were there when you went past.

NASSER : I wish I could do something more to help the other deadbeat children like him. They hang about the road like pigeons, making a mess, doing nothing.

Wanted to see what you’d do. How’s your Papa? (OMAR shrugs.) So many books written and read. Politicians sought him out. Bhutto was his close friend. But we’re nothing in England without money.

OMAR : I want big money. I’m not gonna be beat down by this country. When we were at school, you and your lot kicked me all round the place. And what are you doing now? Washing my floor. That’s how I like it. Now get to work. Get to work I said. Or you’re fired!

JOHNNY : You used to give me a lot of good advice, sir. When I was little. PAPA : When you were little. What’s it made of you? Are you a politician? Journalist? A trade unionist? No, you are an underpants cleaner. (Self-mocking.) Oh dear, the working class are such a great disappointment to me.

PAPA: I want my son out of this underpants cleaning condition. I want him reading in college. You tell him: you go to college. He must have knowledge. We all must, now. In order to see clearly what’s being done and to whom in this country. Right?

JOHNNY : What does he reckon he is, your uncle? Some kinda big Gatsby geezer( (OMAR gives him a cutting look.) Maybe this just isn’t my world. You’re right.

SALIM: Don’t in future bite the family hand when you can eat out of it. If you need money just ask me. Years ago your uncles lifted me up. And I will do the same for you.

JOHNNY : (Eventually, and tough) Salim, we know what you sell, man. Know the kids you sell it to. It’s shit, man. Shit. SALIM : Haven’t you noticed? People are shit. I give them what they want. I don’t criticize. I supply. The laws of business apply.

SALIM: All over England, Asians, as you call us, are beaten, burnt to death. Always we are intimidated. What these scum need – (and he slams the car into gear and starts to drive forward fast) ) is a taste of their own piss.

TANIA : Omo just runs you around everywhere like a servant. JOHNNY : Well. I’ll stay here with my friend and fight it out. TANIA : My family, Salim and all, they’ll swallow you up like a little kebab. JOHNNY : I couldn’t just leave him now. Don’t ask me to. You ever touched him?

SALIM : I want to talk to Omo about business. JOHNNY : I dunno where he is. SALIM : Is it worth waiting? JOHNNY : In my experience it’s always worth waiting for Omo.

PAPA : This damn country has done us in. That’s why I am like this. We should be there. Home. NASSER : But that country has been sodomized by religion. It is beginning to interfere with the making of money. Compared with everywhere, it is a little heaven here.