In the upcoming romantic comedy “Americanish,” three young women are looking for love in New York City.
It’s a familiar plot, but “Americanish” adds a new perspective to the genre by centering on a trio of American Muslim women in Queens.
Here’s the description of the film: “This loving comedy follows the joys and tribulations of career-driven sisters Sam and Maryam Khan and their cousin Ameera, who moves to New York City with one purpose: to find a Pakistani American Doctor to marry. While highlighting a relatable and endearing storyline and offering a fresh perspective on classic rom-com tropes, the film delves head-on into the complexity of trying to both honor and break from cultural traditions while balancing personal values and career goals in a society that does not always accommodate both.”
TheWrap caught up with director Iman Zawahry, an American Muslim woman, to talk about the film and its message ahead of its trailer debut.
“What’s really important about this film is that is shows that American Muslim women are not a monolith; we’re agencies of our own lives. And you don’t see these stories at all,” she explained. “This is the first American Muslim rom-com made by American Muslim woman about Muslim woman that we’ve ever had.”
Zawahry knew that she wanted to set the film in Jackson Heights, with it’s bustling bodegas and shiny-tiled subway stations. “I was really excited about having a New York as a backdrop, because it’s probably one of our characters in the story as well,” she said. “It’s so beautiful. All the colors, all the people, all the culture all coming together into the story, really amplified it to a whole level.”
The timing of the movie is important too, as there’s been a surge in violence against East and Southeast Asians, particularly women. And Muslims continue to face discrimination 20 years after 9/11.
“Muslim women to this day are considered to be docile, timid, or they’re victims, or they’re hyper-sexualized. They’re never seen as average normal, women that want to be independent, have love and a career. We are not seeing that,” Zawahry said. “When we see things, communities, we’re able to relate to them. And as we’re relating, especially through comedy, they’re able to let go of anything they have, and they’re able to learn and take in what’s going on.”
Aizzah Fatima co-wrote “Americanish” and stars as Sam. The film also features Salena Qureshi (“The Society,” “All These Small Moments”), Kapil Talwalkar (“Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist”), Lillete Dubey (“Monsoon Wedding,” “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”), George Wendt (“Cheers”), David Rasche (Men in Black 3, Succession), Shenaz Treasury (“The Big Sick,” “One Life to Live”), Godfrey (“Zoolander”), and Mohammed “Mo” Amer (“Ramy,” “The Vagabond”).
“Americanish” will have its world premiere on May 23 as the CAAMFest (Center for American Asian Media Festival) closing film.
Check out the trailer, exclusively on TheWrap, above.