Brick Lane (2007) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • A young Bangladeshi woman, Nazneen, arrives in 1980s London, leaving behind her beloved sister and home, for an arranged marriage and a new life. Trapped within the four walls of her flat in East London, and in a loveless marriage with the middle aged Chanu, she fears her soul is quietly dying. Her sister Hasina, meanwhile, through letters to Nazneen, tells of her carefree life back in Bangladesh, stumbling from one adventure to the next. Nazneen struggles to accept her lifestyle, and keeps her head down in spite of life's blows, but she soon discovers that life cannot be avoided - and is forced to confront it the day that the hotheaded young Karim comes knocking at her door.

  • After her mother kills herself, 17-year old Bangladesh-based Nazneen gets married to 42-year old Chanu Ahmed, and re-locates to live in Britain circa 1980, leaving her dad and sister, Hasina, behind. She soon gives birth to two daughters, Rukshana and Bibi. When her husband loses his job, she takes up sewing and meets with Karim, who supplies her dress material, and both get attracted to each other. While racism prevails in the community, especially from white supremacists groups, it escalates after the events of September 11, 2001, compelling a debit-ridden Chanu to consider re-locating back to Dhaka, much to the chagrin of Rukshana. While the thought of being reunited with a seemingly care-free Hasina attracts her, Nazneen must now chose between living in their apartment on Brick Lane, continuing her affair or even getting married to Karim, or accompanying her husband back home.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • After her mothers suicide, Nazneen (Tannishta Chatterjee) is given by her father in an arranged marriage to a man she has never met. Barely seventeen, the beautiful girl is ripped away from her beloved sister and their rural home in Bangladesh and sent to live with her fat, much older husband in Londons "Brick Lane."

    Although her new husband Chanu (Satish Kaushik) is not a monster, he lacks any insight into, or interest in, his young wifes feelings. He is completely oblivious to the fact that his wife daydreams of her home and sister during sex, and believes that knowing about Hume and Thackeray are the signs of education which will impress his employer and coworkers. Sadly, he is mistaken. After losing his job and falling victim to a loan shark, Chanu begins working as a minicab driver. Nazneem tries to make ends meet by doing what the other women in the council houses do: she she buys a sewing machine and takes in piecework, finishing blue jeans.

    Enter Karim (Christopher Simpson), the young, handsome, delivery man for the unfinished jeans. The two fall in love, have sex, talk of Nazneems divorce and their marriage. The oblivious Chanu either does not see what is happening before his eyes, or simply chooses not to say anything.

    During the film, the attacks of 9/11 take place. As anti-Muslim sentiment increases in London, community meetings are held. As Karim starts growing a beard and becomes increasingly militant, Chanu becomes a spokeswoman in favor of moderation and against extremism. She advocates a Moslem faith based not on politics but on compassion.

    When it was announced that Monica Alis book's would be made into a film, Muslims in London were so outraged that the novel could not be filmed on the real Brick Lane (the center of London's Bangladeshi population). As a Westerner, I find it difficult to understand how the sentiments expressed by Nazneema could provoke such anger. Brick Lane is a kind, compassionate study of human emotion; not a belligerent polemic.

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