Watch: The Big Sick
So, The Big Sick. I’m in the camp with the South Asian women who thought the film was funny and poignant and were excited to see a Pakistani guy as the love interest in a Hollywood rom-com, but were less than thrilled at the depiction of Pakistani women.
There isn’t a single interesting young Pakistani with the exception of the one played by non-South Asian Vella Lovell who had a few okay lines. Watching this film, you could easily assume that even if Kumail had wanted to marry a Pakistani women, he would have been hard-pressed to find one, particularly if he was looking for someone more “modern” and humorous. There were opportunities—take the sister-in-law. She’s present in several scenes but her character is totally flat—couldn’t they at least have made her interesting? Maybe Kumail could have gone to her for advice, or they could have made her witty, or something.
What was also annoying was how the modern arranged marriage process was depicted, particularly when it came to women. A lot of people watching this movie will have little knowledge of Pakistani culture, and will take this film at face value. In the film, potential brides show up at Kumail’s parents house in the middle of dinner. That’s ridiculous. Generally speaking, in these situations either the guy and girl arrange to meet on their own for coffee or whatever, or the boy comes with his family to the girl’s parents’ house for tea. I don’t know a single South Asian woman, who, even if they were interested in being set up, would show up at this random guy’s parents’ house in the middle of dinner and be like, “Heeeeyyyyy” (or, rather, “As-salam alaikum Auntie I’m standing alone at your doorstep appropriately dressed in a shalwar kameez all ready to meet your son.”) I understand this was probably done for comedic effect, but it made Pakistani women look desperate and a little weird, and I worry that people in the audience are going to assume this evening dinner parade of desperate single ladies knocking on the door is actually part of Pakistani culture. I’m looking forward to a Hollywood film where the Muslim women get to shine.
All in all though, The Big Sick is a quality film. There were a few moments that reminded me so much of my life that I cringed. If you haven’t seen it already, please do!