Young Bangladeshi, Nazneem (Tannishtha Chatterjee) is sent to 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 Brick Lane, East London, and in a loveless marriage with the middle aged Chanu (Satish Kaushik), complete with two daughters. She fears her soul is quietly dying. Her sister Hasina (Zafreen), meanwhile, continues to live a carefree life back in Bangladesh, stumbling from one adventure to the next. Then one day, Karim (Christopher Simpson) knocks on her door with a consignment of garments for hemming, casual work she has taken on for extra money. Age difference aside, Karim and Nazneem begin to nurture a relationship.

A vibrant music score coupled with moving performances enhanced this beautiful story.

Set against a backdrop of escalating racial tensions in multi-cultural Britain, Brick Lane is a contemporary look at isolation, love and the power of the human spirit.

Adapted from Monica Ali’s award winning novel of the same name, 'Brick Lane' is the story of Nazneen, a Bangladeshi village girl who ends up living in London’s Brick Lane.

Married off to an older man when she is just 17, Nazneen bids farewell to her beloved younger sister and her carefree village life.

Nazneen’s world is very much controlled by others until Karim, a young British Bangladeshi man, brings unexpected love into her life. It is this encounter which acts as the catalyst that set her free; helping her find a voice and express her desires.

'Brick Lane" is British director Sarah Gavron’s first feature and it is an impressive debut. Together with Director of Photography Robbie Ryan, she has moulded a visually stunning film.

The cinematography wonderfully reflects Nazneen’s home-sickness; juxtaposing the vibrant colours of Nazneen’s Bangladeshi village with the grey drabness of London’s Brick Lane.

Well-known Indian actress Tannishtha Chatterjee portrays Nazneen’s inner turmoil with grace and intensity. She is the spine of the story, yet she says very little.

Satish Kaushik plays Chanu, Nazneen’s older husband. Even though Chanu is somewhat the comic relief, it was his plight that most moved me; a desperate man trying to make his way, hopelessly trapped between worlds. Kaushik brings a beautiful balance of pathos and humour to the role. And both his & Chatterjee’s performances are magic.

'Brick Lane" has good pedigree. Alison Owen, one of the producers had great success with 'Elizabeth" and 'Proof". Here, she cleverly pairs first time writer Abi Morgan with well known Australian writer Laura Jones to adapt the dense, celebrated novel.

For those who loved the book, be prepared. The writers have condensed the story to cover just one year, 2001, with flashbacks to Nazneen’s village"¦ I think it is very affective but might disappoint ardent fans.

The vibrant music score coupled with moving performances and a well told story made Brick Lane a thoroughly engaging experience. 4 stars.


Watch 'Brick Lane'

Monday 4 October, 7:35pm on SBS World Movies / Now streaming at SBS On Demand

UK, India, 2007
Genre: Drama
Language: English, Bengali
Director: Sarah Gavron
Starring: Tannishtha Chatterjee, Christopher Simpson, Satish Kaushik, Zafreen

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