Sarah Gavron’s Brick Lane, adapted from Monica Ali’s novel of the same name, came to two film festivals in India in the last three years. It released globally three years ago, and UTV World Movies releases it in India this week.
Like many movies in the past, Brick Lane looks at the South Asian immigrant condition in the UK inside out. Nazneen (Tannishtha Chatterjee), an overtly shy but fierce-willed young Bangladeshi woman, is in a loveless marriage with Chanu (Satish Kaushik). Her respite from the sordidness of it (the “Banglatown” milieu of East London where she lives exacerbates it): charming childhood memories with her sister in a Bangladeshi village (way too exoticized, considering it is a Bangladeshi village in the 1980s Ali is portraying), and later in the midst of the desi-British hodge-podge. She has an affair with Karim (Christopher Simpson), a young man radicalized by popular pro-Islamic sentiments in the post-9/11 world. Will Nazneen find true love? Thankfully, the film does not have simplistic answers.
There are many kinds of love here and none are worth expunging or embracing fully.
Gavron creates the milieu in arduous detail. It’s a slow, lyrical film and the performances, especially that of Kaushik’s, as a sad, ponderous, helpless as well as cruel patriarch, are impressive. The Bangladeshi accent and droll of Nazneen annoyed me—it seemed like a contrived attempt at authenticity. But it’s certainly worth a watch.
Brick Lane released at Metro Adlabs, Mumbai, on Friday and is scheduled to release in other cities in the next few weeks.