Kumail Nanjiani, star and creator of the critically hailed The Big Sick, is on board as co-writer and star of a television adaptation of My Beautiful Laundrette, the 1985 sleeper hit directed by Stephen Frears, screenplay by Hanif Kureishi.
The original film stars Gordon Warnecke as a British Pakistani man who opens a posh laundromat in a gritty, depressed London neighborhood with his white ex-skinhead lover played by Daniel Day-Lewis in one of his first standout performances. Although Another Country (a film driven by themes of homosexuality and Marxism in suppressed 1930s Britain) was released in 1984, My Beautiful Laundrette is considered “the first British film to openly depict a gay romance,” while at the same time capturing the racial and economic strife that defined the Margaret Thatcher period in the UK.
The TV reworking has Stephen Gaghan (who adapted the screenplay for the 2000 film Traffic from the British miniseries Traffik) executive producing along with production company Super Deluxe known for generating “bizarre viral video content” but new in the television game. Like the source material, the show content will involve immigration and LGBT themes.
Hanif Kureishi is onboard to executive produce with Silicon Valley producer Alex Berg.
The original film was groundbreaking in that it was truly multicultural with LGBT themes front and center in a realistic yet sexy way. Though it was influential to, if not contemporaneous with, other daring works in British and European cinema—Maurice, Kureishi’s Sammie and Rosie Get Laid and Prick Up Your Ears both directed by Frears, as well as Tea in the Harem and Miss Mona directed by the underappreciated Mehdi Charef—it is worth noting that My Beautiful Laundrette was released 33 years ago! Aside from Will & Grace, Hollywood, obviously, has been very comfortable feigning amnesia while basking in blockbuster hits. However, the slow momentum of My Beautiful Laundrette’s impact—as evident in 2016’s Moonlight and The Handmaiden, and of course in 2017’s Call Me by Your Name, the script of which is by James Ivory who wrote and directed Maurice—finally has a dignified foothold, with a balanced attention to TV ratings, box-office revenue and artistry. And if no one in the industry is willing to invest in any totally fresh stories, as least the energized Nanjiani and his partners have chosen a profound creative work to reboot.