“Take off your scarf and wax your mustache!” orders Maryam’s anxious mom, Khala. She knows the importance of Americanization. After she immigrated to the US years ago with her Pakistani husband and two daughters, he promptly left her to search for an American women. “I want an American woman who can take care of herself,” he frustratingly told her.
This made a confused impression on how Khala (Lillete Dubey) would bring up her two daughters. She wants them to marry someone who will love and take care of them, but she also doesn’t want them to become so independent-minded that they will leave the house.
This is the culture shock that affects so many from the subcontinent countries of India, Bangladesh and Nepal. These immigrants dream of a free, capitalistic America of opportunity, while still hoping to find a little India, Nepal or Bangladesh oasis where their customs and values are still respected.
Egyptian-American-Muslim film-maker Iman Zawahry shows in “Americanish” that this oasis expectation is neither reality nor exactly helpful. When Ameera, a cousin, immigrates from Pakistan to join Khala’s family exclusively to find an American-Pakistani doctor to marry, the comedy begins. She’s nice looking, lively, hopeful, vacuous and naive.
Khala’s two smart daughters, one a progressive businesswoman in marketing and the other a hajab-wearing student with aspirations for Harvard’s medical school, have common dreams of upward mobility, but are confronted with conflicts most immigrants face in their transition to American life: traditional family values, female roles and expectations.
The crux of the film rests on each young woman deciding on whether to marry into wealth and security or doing what she really wants to do. Confronted with the latter process is Americanization.
Filled with humor, silliness, and predictable outcomes, “Americanish” is a non-intimidating foray into the cultural challenges immigrants face. How can they retain their values and their family priorities in the face of American pressures for individualism and feminist self-actualization?
Zawahry, in her debut feature film with a diverse cast of American-Muslim females made by a diverse group of American-Muslim women, sorts it out from her perspective creating a zany, enjoyable film that confronts the challenges and yet doesn’t offend.
Director: Iman Zawahry
Writers: Iman Sawahry and Aizzah Fatima
Editor, Jesi Rojas
Cinematographer: Chloe Weaver
Art Director: Kait Murphy
Music Supervior: Sucheta Suchdev, and additional composer, DJ Rekha
Executive Producer, Ann Chadhary
Co-Executive Producer: Mohannad Malas
Producers: Roy Wol, Paul Seetachitt, Iman Zawahry, Aizzah Fatima and Maddie Shapiro
Cast: Aizzah Fatima, Salena Qureshi, Kapil Talwalkar, Lillete Dubey, George Wendt (Norm from “Cheers”), David Rasche, Shenaz Treasury, Godfrey (“Zoolander”), and Mohammed “Mo” Amer
Release: Oct. 6, 2023
Official website and how to view: https://www.americanishfilm.com/
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