It helped put the vibrant Bangladeshi neighbourhood on the map, but anger over Monica Ali's best-selling novel Brick Lane has forced the cancellation of plans to film a movie version of the book on the east London street that shares its name. Exterior shots planned for Brick Lane had been cancelled due to security concerns, said Chloe Dunbar, a spokeswoman for Film Four, which is co-financing the film.
Abdul Salique, chairman of the Brick Lane Merchants' Association, led protests against filming on the street, a busy strip of shops and curry houses at the heart of London's Bangladeshi community. "We are protecting our community's dignity and respect," he was quoted as saying in The Guardian newspaper in Thursday editions. Salique said he had planned book burnings and protests against the film, which he claimed was degrading to the Bangladeshi community.
Ali's novel, published in 2003 to widespread acclaim, centres on a Bangladeshi immigrant bride's experience in London and her adulterous affair with an Islamic radical.
|Brick Lane Merchants's Association is protesting the filming of Monica Ali's book|
Critics hailed the book as opening a window into the Bangladeshi immigrant experience, but it raised hackles in a tightly-knit community sensitive to allegations of religious extremism. Others objected to passages they said depicted the Bangladeshi community as uneducated and uncultured.
"Media are only interested in the negative side of the community," said Salique. "Ali never shared our experience, she targeted us to make money and make a name for herself." Dunbar said those protesting made up only a small minority of the community.
Few of the residents along Brick Lane said they had read the book, but most agreed with Rofiul Hoque Kocun, behind the counter of a Bengali language music store, who said Ali had treated the community unfairly.
Dunbar said shooting for the movie, which stars popular Indian actor-director Satish Kaushik, was almost complete, and that the exterior shots would be filmed elsewhere.