In a small city in the English midlands, a Pakistani immigrant named Parvez (Om Puri) works long hours driving a cab to provide modest comfort for his disapproving wife, Minoo (Gopi Desai), and better opportunities for his collegiate son, Farid (Akbar Kurtha). When Farid breaks off his engagement with the daughter of the city's white police commissioner, drops out of university and joins a cell of Islamic fundamentalists, Parvez must bide his time and hope that his son will come around to his own liberal, assimilationist views. Meanwhile, a monied German entrepreneur named Schitz (Stellan Skarsgard) arrives in town on business and retains Parvez's services as not only driver but navigator of the city's steamy underbelly. Parvez recommends the services of Bettina (Rachel Griffiths), a local hooker with whom he has struck up an unlikely but warm friendship. Schitz's callous treatment of both of his new employees soon, however, sickens Parvez. After his son convinces Parvez to let a visiting holy man move into the family home, the conflicts between Parvez's nocturnal activities and his home life escalate. The screenplay was adapted by Hanif Kureishi from his own short story, which appears in the collection Love in a Blue Time.