A South Asian Rom-Com That Effortlessly Captures The Muslim-American Experience

A South Asian Rom-Com That Effortlessly Captures The Muslim-American Experience

When it comes to diasporic communities, they have for generations been experiencing a rather unique phenomenon. With their cultural identities that lie at the cusp of two very distinct cultures, they often deal with parents that are trying to retain their cultural identity while they try to navigate, assimilate and embrace western lifestyles. For them, the intersection of identity and belonging governs their own understanding of self.

It is in that space, that the romantic-comedy ‘Americanish’ operates. America is often called the land of dream; where everyone’s dreams come true...ish. At the heart of the movie are four women, all with their unique aspirations and thoughts, trying their best to make sense of a world that is both a cultural blend and an alienating experience at the same time.

Americanish Directed by Iman Zawahry
Americanish Directed by Iman Zawahry
Image Courtesy: Americanish

Directed by Iman Zawahry, one of the first hijabi American-Muslim filmmakers, the film follows the lives of Sam, Maryam, Ameera and Khala. Sam (Aizzah Fatima) has no time for relationships, she is trying to focus on establishing her career so that she can move out of the house and from under the thumb of her traditional mother, Khala (Lillete Dubey). Her younger sister Maryam (Salena Qureshi) dreams of going to Harvard Medical School but is distracted by Shahid (Kapil Talwalkar), the hottest guy in her study group. Their eternally optimistic cousin Ameera (Shenaz Treasury) arrives at JFK with one goal in mind — marriage. “I’m here to find a nice Pakistani-American doctor to marry,” she tells a flummoxed customs agent.

In true, rom-com fashion the three women end up getting exactly what they want only to realize it isn’t what they wanted at all. Instead, it’s something (or someone) that has been right in front of them the whole time. The 90-minute film speaks to the experiences of many people, particularly first-generation South Asian and Asian Americans, Muslims and immigrants with both nuance as well as a unique perspective. As they navigate romance, family life, tradition, and relationships with their own cultural identity while living in Jackson Heights, NY, ‘Americanish’ tells an engrossing tale of womanhood, culture and romance.

Find out more about the film here.

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