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Brick Lane (2007) Dir Sarah Gavron. Hull Screen

A Bangladeshi girl on the death of her mother, is sent to the UK for an arranged marriage and a life of drudgery in Working Class Inner London….


I read Monica Ali’s book a few years ago, and found it an interesting take on women’s issues amongst the Asian Community, confirming that despite Ken Livingstone’s protestations CRE Head Trevor Phillips was on the money when he observed that we are “sleepwalking into a segregated society”.


September 11th and it’s fallout which culminated in the July 2005 London bombings are further affirmation that Phillips is right to highlight the ways things are going.


One only has to observe the demographics of the Brick Lane area itself (which I do on a regular basis, as it’s where the Royal London Hospital is situated) to see that the Asian community are, largely through economic necessity and educational failure, boxed into a chronically underprivileged area of London.


This in turn produces tensions with the indigenous population who (wrongly) perceive that their Asian neighbours are somehow favoured when it comes to local services, and feel overwhelmed by the sheer weight of numbers.


Throw Islam, which actively encourages separation from non-Muslims, especially for women, and you have the ingredients for parallel societies to develop with all the problems that naturally arise.


The key lies with a recognition that society is stratified along economic grounds, and the way forward has to be through educational achievement and raising aspiration.


The film is a lazy effort, stereotypical in it’s portrayal of the Asian characters and its only saving grace was the comic performance of Satish Kaushik as the pompous, delusional older man that Nazneen is forced to marry.


The book is quite lengthy and perhaps on screen it would have worked better as a C4 series in the manner of say The Buddha of Suburbia, and Gavron could have developed the characters, making them more rounded and less cardboard cut out Asians.


The filming had to be moved from it’s eponymous location due to festering resentment against Monica Ali from the Bangladeshi’s who found her portrayal of their lives insulting.



 They should have saved their energy, as this picture is blandness personified.


About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.


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