Two young girls play and share a bagel on the brick porch of their Queens home. The door behind them bursts open and a man with a suitcase storms past them, followed closely by a pleading woman. The couple stops in front of the chain-link fence at the edge of the yard, arguing and pointing fingers. The girls are no longer laughing. They huddle on the steps and look back and forth between their fighting parents with confusion and fear. The man throws his hands in the air and walks away. The woman returns to her daughters, addressing the eldest.
“Sameem, don’t marry a man you love. Marry a man that loves you. He’ll take care of you.”
AMERICANISH Zeroes in on the Pakistani Diaspora
Set twenty years after their father leaves them for an American family, Americanish follows the lives of three Pakistani sisters navigating their careers and love as they fight to uphold Muslim tradition in a Western society.
Sameem sits around a conference table surrounded by white men. The men ignore her, talk over her, and steal her ideas. Her only opportunity for a promotion requires her to work on the campaign of a xenophobic politician, forcing her to decide between advancing her career or betraying her identity.
At a celebration for one sister’s engagement, family members swarm her and her fiancé, adjusting clothing and posing the couple for photos and carrying out traditional Pakistani rituals. The guests are dressed as lavishly as the engaged couple, dripping with bright colors and ornate jewelry. The photographer instructs the couple to hold hands and snaps a photo. A still of the photo flashes on the screen for a second. Before it fades, we see a happy family surrounding a despondent bride-to-be, who looks down, sad and conflicted.
Whether the characters are in front of the rainbow produce of a local grocery store, at a brightly lit newspaper kiosk, or in a wedding gown store lined with opulent dresses of every color and variety, there is color and life packed into every frame. In this way, Americanish captures a refreshing pulsing vibrancy. The costumes and locations are detailed, colorful, and engaging.
In this writer’s opinion, Americanish addresses the serious challenges of South Asian diaspora through the lens of a lighthearted romantic comedy.
Americanish is recommended to those who enjoy romantic comedies that explore non-Western themes.
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For more information and screenings details visit the Americanish Film website.
Images courtesy of Americanish.
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About the Author: Holly Fontanetta
Holly Fontanetta is inspired by narratives that capture the idiosyncrasies of human experience. She has driven absurd distances on a whim in search of character, including two road trips from New York to California. Holly spends her free time hanging out with cats (her own or strays - either is fine) and swimming in the ocean (Atlantic or Pacific - either is fine). Her favorite stories to read and write feature women overcoming extraordinary circumstances. Currently, Holly is learning to paint and filling her walls with strange art.