Entertainment

Sundance: Kumail Nanjiani Talks Portraying "Muslims Having Fun" in 'The Big Sick'

“When you go to a theme park, you see Muslims riding roller coasters and eating ice cream. Why doesn’t anybody think of those Muslims when they think of Muslims?”

In The Big Sick, Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon write their real-life romance of an interracial couple whose relationship is tested by a serious health issue.

Even more so, they include scenes of “Muslims having fun” — a top priority for the co-writers, as Nanjiani’s Pakistani parents, who are tradition-minded yet warm and jovial, are portrayed onscreen.

“I still feel like we’re at the point that when someone thinks of a Muslim, they get one image in their head,” Nanjiani.told The Hollywood Reporter at the Sundance Film Festival. “In popular culture, there isn’t any other conception of Islam and Muslims other than what you see on the news. … When you go to a theme park, you see Muslims riding roller coasters and eating ice cream. Why doesn’t anybody think of those Muslims when they think of Muslims?”

Gordon also mentioned that she wanted to start a Tumblr page with similar photos. “I get to see Muslims having fun because half of my family is Muslim, and a lot of the country doesn’t get to see Muslims,” she said. “They party! They get down! … I wish other people could see this.”

Nanjiani added, “We just wanted to portray them as people.”

Produced by Judd Apatow and directed by Michael Showalter, the film was nabbed by Amazon for $12 million, making it the biggest deal of the fest. Nanjiani stars alongside Zoe Kazan, Ray Romano and Holly Hunter.


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