Pakistani American Standup Comedian Kumail Nanjiani is the Lead in American Rom Com ‘The Big Sick’

Pakistani American Standup Comedian Kumail Nanjiani is the Lead in American Rom Com ‘The Big Sick’
This is the first time that a Pakistani American has secured the lead role in a mainstream romantic comedy in the USA. The Big Sick starring Silicon Valley star Kumail Nanjiani is a hit romantic-comedy film that debuted at Sundance this year, also starring Zoe Kazan, Ray Romano and Holly Hunter. The film already has also won the Audience Award at South by Soutwest (SXSW).

The film portrays a funny, real, appealing and relatable vision of a Muslim family rarely seen in American film.

‘You just don’t see Muslims being matter-of-fact Muslim,’ says Nanjiani. ‘They’re always defined by their Muslim-ness. We’re either terrorists, or we’re fighting terrorists. I remember seeing True Lies and going, why are we always the bad guys?’

Based on a true-story, The Big Sick is a heart-stopping film that features the relationship of two people who meet, but immediately after, the character of Kazan gets diagnosed with a rare medical emergency requiring her to be placed in a medically induced coma. However, the film remains true to the genre of comedy throughout even though most of the scenes are shot in a hospital where Najiani’s character meets his future-in-laws. Interestingly, Nanjiani’s role is a slightly amended version of his real self; he is a Pakistani American standup comedian and Uber driver who meets Emily who is training to be a therapist.

Comedy also ensues when Nanjiani’s character’s Pakistani family expect him to marry a nice Pakistani girl. Poignant, yet funny, the script is written by Nanjiani along with his wife Emily Gordon, who spent eight days in a coma before she received a diagnosis of adult-onset Still’s disease which is manageable with the right treatment. ‘It was really emotional writing it,’ says Najiani. ‘It was really emotional for me acting in it and for Emily being on set was emotional. It was emotional editing. It’s emotional watching it.’

Snatched up by Amazon Studios for a reported USD 12 million, The Big Sick opens in the US on June 23.