• Tuesday, April 23, 2024


Best British Asian movies across the decades, ahead of Polite Society release

New movie Polite Society follows on from recent British Asian cinema releases What’s Love Got To Do With It and Little English.

My Beautiful Laundrette

By: Eastern Eye Staff

Polite Society, the kung fu-inspired comedy-drama, in cinemas now, revolves around an aspiring stunt woman who decides to commit a wedding heist and finds herself up against a formidable fighting foe.

To mark its release, Eastern Eye put together a list of the top 10 British Asian
movies, in chronological order.

A Private Enterprise (1974): The long forgotten drama is massively important as it is widely regarded as the first British Asian movie, so is an essential inclusion
in this list. Salmaan Peerzada played the lead role in this story of an ambitious Indian immigrant attempting to start his own business in Birmingham and finding himself caught in a clash of cultures.

My Beautiful Laundrette (1985): The taboo-busting romantic-comedy drama
was ground-breaking and earned writer Hanif Kureishi an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. The story of a young gay Pakistani man living in London and his romance with a white friend, who was once a punk, received rave reviews. It showed anything was possible with great writing.

Bhaji on the Beach (1993): The directorial debut from Gurinder Chadha is a path-breaking comedy about a group of British Asian women taking a day trip to Blackpool. What follows is an eventful day filled with laughter, misunderstanding, hidden truths, and solidarity. A movie that wasn’t properly appreciated when it released became a cult classic.

East Is East

East Is East (1999): The big-screen adaptation of a hit theatre play became a cross-cultural phenomenon when it was released. The award-winning comedy-drama is a 1970s-set story about a British Pakistani man married to a woman of Irish descent, and their seven children, who are caught between cultures. The movie featuring stand-out performances spawned the entertaining 2010 sequel West Is West.

Bend It Like Beckham

Bend It Like Beckham (2002): The most commercially successful British Asian movie of all time revolves around the daughter of Punjabi Sikh immigrants, trying to realise her dream of playing football. The iconic sports-comedy drama, powered by a brilliant lead performance from Parminder Nagra, is a multi-layered story, which explores multiple themes including coming of age, sports,Indian tradition, following your dreams and battling against the odds.

Ae Fond Kiss… (2004): The critically acclaimed romance perhaps doesn’t get the credit it deserves. The Glasgow-set drama revolves around the only son of
Pakistani immigrants to Scotland, set to have an arranged marriage, who falls in love with an Irish Catholic girl. The story of star-crossed lovers finding themselves in a cultural conflict is a delight.

Yasmin (2004): There are a lot of hidden gems when it comes to British Asian themed movies and this low budget treasure is one of them. Archie Panjabi takes on the title role in the impactful drama of a Muslim woman trying to get her husband free from a holding centre, after he is arrested for being a terror suspect, post 9/11.

Four Lions

Four Lions (2010): Writer/director Chris Morris broke all the rules with his political satire black comedy about home-grown terrorist jihadis from Sheffield. Riz
Ahmed headlined the story, which found humour in an unexpected place and told a story with a powerful message. The movie is filled with entertaining moments and dialogues that became a part of popular culture.

Blinded by the Light (2019): The musical inspired by journalist Sarfraz Manzoor’s 2007 memoir Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock N’ Roll is a 1980s-set coming of age story. It revolves around a British Muslim teenager, who sees his life change after discovering the songs of Bruce Springsteen. The heart warming story cleverly incorporates songs from the music icon.

Ali & Ava (2021): The beautifully crafted cross-cultural romance received universal acclaim and earned lead actor Adeel Akhtar a BAFTA best actor nomination. The Bradford-set story of a British Pakistani man on the verge of divorce striking up an unlikely romance with a white woman with adult children, told a multi-layered love story with lots of heart.

Related Stories


Mrunal Thakur on Dhamaka, experience of working with Kartik Aaryan,…
Nushrratt Bharuccha on Chhorii, pressure of comparison with Lapachhapi, upcoming…
Abhimanyu Dassani on Meenakshi Sundareshwar, how his mom Bhagyashree reacted…