From: Silver Screen
DCAPA Film Festival: ‘Americanish’ gleefully showcases the intricacies of Pakistani American womanhood and love
In “Americanish,” director Iman K. Zawahry and screenwriter-turned-leading-actress Aizzah Fatima play with vibrant shots and carefully balanced dialogue in order to craft a fantastical romantic comedy suited for anyone searching for the equilibrium between what they think they want and what they really need.
“Americanish” follows sisters Sam (Fatima), Maryam (Salena Qureshi) and their cousin Ameera (Shenaz Treasury) as they navigate their relationships with romantic pursuits and their career goals. Each seeking out their own version of happiness, the women juggle their differing understandings of womanhood and the way these interpretations and expectations intertwine with both Pakistani and American culture.
While Fatima’s screenplay handles the realistic trials and tribulations of balancing cultures and determining one’s position within them well, it also combines moments of romance and comedy in a fanciful manner. Each of the young female protagonists is dealing with their own version of love: while Ameera is set out to marry a wealthy doctor, Sam is decidedly not looking for marriage. She is solely career-driven, seemingly more interested in no-strings-attached relationships. And though Maryam finds herself head-over-heels in love with her study buddy, she’s not interested in exploring any physical relationships until she is married. Yet none of these women are framed by the film as having the “wrong” view on love: they are all respected in their personal opinions and pursuits, even when these pursuits change.
At its heart, the piece reads as a whimsical comedy. Bleak moments often resolve themselves promptly in the protagonists’ favors and are frequently overshadowed by the more triumphant overarching messages. The film does undeniably deal directly with social issues and familial difficulties, though almost all of these challenges are smoothly resolved and play second-string to the romance-centric primary plots.
With that being said, evil coded characters do exist. Sam’s xenophobic boss, Sen. Douglas Smarts (George Wendt), constantly belittles immmigrants. And though Sam’s workplace does cause her stress, Smarts’ malevolent storyline is only a minor thread in the larger picture and does little to detract from the vibrant, empowering mood that the film works to convey.
The cast is one of the film’s strongest assets, being both a well-rounded ensemble in talent and high energy level. Fatima excels in timing, showing the strong makings of a comedian. And while Qureshi has already made quite a name for herself, she is poised to become a first-rate Hollywood ingenue. Godfrey, who plays Gabriel, one of Ameera’s romantic interests, also delivers a compelling performance, delivering some of the film’s strongest moments of both comedy and compassion.
The well-paced film is a delicate, exuberant feature that can be easily enjoyed by anyone looking for an “all's-well-that-ends-well” romantic comedy. While some aspects of “Americanish” may read as ideal — loose ends seem to tie up unexpectedly — it plays well into the broader lighthearted tone of the film. Bold, humorous and fresh, “Americanish” is a well-crafted collage of both Muslim womanhood and modern romance.
“Americanish” will screen as a part of the DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival (DCAPAFF) from July 15 to July 25, 2021. DCAPAFF will also host a live Q&A with the cast and crew of “Americanish” on July 15 at 9 p.m. EDT.