Iman Zahawry provides a refreshing and heartwarming romantic comedy centered in a community that is so often ignored in media. What might feel like a run of the mill indie film straight from the early 2010s, the films sets itself apart and elevates itself with its likable characters and message of trying to find one’s independence and what it means to be Americanish.
Now I can understand how this may sound like I’m saying the film feels dated, but what I mean is that it uses its genre incredibly well. Aizzah Fatima, Salena Qureshi, and Shenaz Treasury all play spectacular women who we have seen in theses types of movies before. Each going through major life changes and dealing with the weight of tough decisions.
Whether it’s continuing to work for a company that stifles your identity or choosing to do what’s best for you, deciding to become a doctor or to become a housewife, or marrying someone just because you’ve been told this is the right thing to do; these are all situations that many of us can relate to but Iman and Aizzah both write these stories from the perspective of the double identities of first generation children in America. The feeling of having one foot in each direction is woven throughout the film, when exploring issues of gender, religious, nationality. A lens that changes the film for the better.
That lens also captures New York in a unique way. I am so used to seeing the city skyline, the busy streets, the random pedestrian on the subway and think THAT is New York, but the cinematography in the film changes its focus onto the Pakistani community. We see a few shots of how the characters interact with the bigger parts of New York but they feel like only points in their destination, and how they navigate America in general, but when we are in the neighborhood everything feels warmer and closer.
There are more intimate and personal moments when the sound of the overloaded traffic isn’t around. The feeling of how this community is close knit, even when they may not agree with how each of them live their lives. The film doesn’t condemn anyone’s choice of living when it comes to their beliefs or values. they are all seen as valid and honest. Anyone can be American, there is no “one size fits all,” and this reflects in all of the film’s aspects perfectly.
Now is the film a bit predictable? Of course, I wouldn’t deny that nor would I consider it a negative, unless these kinds of films are your bread and butter. Some of the settings can feel a bit stiff and bare, and the comedy can be a bit one note, but this is only my opinion. I’m sure other people who have seen this can attest a different take for those kinds of thoughts.
What I look for the most in media is how much the creators made the vision they wanted come alive and for me they did a solid job. My main take away is how much I could feel the love and respect Iman and the rest of the team have for their community, and this is a culture we often don’t see in American media. It might not be a game changer in the rom-com world, but it sure is a labor of love that I wouldn’t mind watching again and again.