Every week, my mewling kittens, I am going to spotlight a product, tell you why I want you to take a hold of it, and where you can get a hold of it. Simple enough, eh?

Recommended Allowance 5.0

***Buddha of Suburbia

Product Type: Book/Film/Album
Price: Book=$10-18, Film=$3-20, Album=$15-26
Get it:
@ Amazon Video
@ Amazon Books
@Amazon Music

It all starts with the first novel by legendary screenwriter/playwriter Hanif Kureishi, the man behind films like the classic My Beautiful Laundrette, London Kills Me, Sammy & Rosie Get Laid, etc. Buddha tells the story of Karim (Creamy to some friends and enemies), a young man of mixed Indian-British heritage moving from adolescence into adulthood in 70s England. In prime Kureishi style, the book sucks politics, pop-culture, sex and identity issues deep inside the head of a startlingly unique character, and spews it out in a hyper-realistic, informal, yet totally engaging narrative.

The book starts out with Karim in the suburbs, where a sheath of palatable bohemia covers shattering infidelities, Me Generation self-interest, race and class wars, fashionable spirituality, and expected but satisfying delvings into bisexuality and drug use. Karim's crush on Charlie, his Father's lover's son and a fabulous Ziggy Stardust wannabe - is just coming to fruition when the family drama sends Charlie running off to London. Karim sticks it out a bit longer, vaugely trying to figure out loyalties in a web of other people's fascinating entanglements, but mainly floating around in a sea of crisis, taking things as they come.

Eventually he does find his level of tolerance and the drive to cut loose, makes it to London just as the brief Glam phase turns to Punk, with the ever-adaptable Charlie at the front of the pack. Karim is seduced into joining a theater company where he finds even more drama, debauchey, and personality crisis. By the end of the book he has found his passion, and the sense of self-preservation needed to stop trying to be everything to everyone. A remarkable, totally engrossing effort.

The film version of the book was a BBC miniseries starring Naveen Andrews, possibly the most beautiful man on earth and a fantastic actor, though with a rather shite filmography behind him. Most people would recognize him as Juliet Binoche's lover in English Patient, and he was also in, among other fair-to-terrible films, the abominitable Kama Sutra, whose first mortal sin was to give the lead roles to two talentless, conspiciously European-featured hacks, relegated highly-respected, accomplished, breathtakingly sumptious actors Naveen and Sarita Choudhury (best known for Mississippi Masala), to supporting characters, but I digress.... Like all of Kureishi's work in film and lit, the characters, including the host of secondary characters, are incredibly full-fleshed and detailed. The film is gorgeously shot and Naveen's performance is naunced and terrible effective. And a little full-frontal nudity is just icing on the cake. People have critisized the film for being rather aimless and inconsistant, it does meander in parts but I think it translates Karim's ambivelance perfectly.

David Bowie was asked to supply songs for the soundtrack, as there are myriad references to David in the book and film (Kureishi is a huge fan and apparently went to the same High School as David had attended). He came up with an original score and soundtrack that was not only absolutely perfect for the film, but was a pheonix rising out of the ashes of his musical integrity. Bowie has said that he approached Buddha of Suburbia trying to recapture not exactly the sound of his work in the 70s (though it does hit the mark), but the way he wrote then, the kind of experimentation, even dadaism that informed his best work in the Glam era, and became the hallmark of most of his work in the 90s and beyond. This album, more than Tin Machine(which I quite liked, shut up!) and the fair success of Black Tie White Noise, was, IMO, the real mark of Bowie's Second Coming. In fact it's one of the best albums he's ever made. Too bad no one bought the damn thing. Make up for it now.

All in all one of the best triumverates around. I definitely suggest going in order book to film to album, though natch the soundtrack stands on it's own as well. And I *highly* recommend reading and seeing anything that has passed through Hanif Kureishi's talented hands (especially My Beautiful Laundrette, which features not one, but two of most erotic moments in the history of film, queer or otherwise). Few people have these mad skills across mediums. He is, as they say, the man.

Yeah. How you like me now?

On to the Recommended Allowance Archive...

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