Oscars 2018: What Makes ‘The Big Sick’ Special?

Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon have been nominated in the Best Original Screenplay category.

3 min read
Anupam Kher, Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan with the team of <i>The Big Sick.</i>

It just got nominated for Best Original Screenplay for the 90th Academy Awards. It’s got a 97 per cent rating on the Tomatometer at, but that’s not the only reason that makes The Big Sick special. The man behind this film, which premiered at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival 2017, is Kumail Nanjiani - a Karachi born Pakistani American, who you might remember from the hit show The Silicon Valley.

A poster of <i>The Big Sick.</i>
A poster of The Big Sick.
(Photo courtesy: Twitter)

Directed by Michael Showalter, The Big Sick is written by Nanjiani along with his wife Emily Gordon, and it’s based on their real life courtship phase. Well, Nanjiani plays himself in the film while Zoe Kazan is signed on to play Emily’s role.

As in real life, Nanjiani’s traditional Pakistani parents were unhappy about his relationship with Emily, the fact that he was even dating her was kept a secret from his parents for the longest time. Emily gets bed-ridden by a mysterious illness, which sends her into a coma, and it’s up to Nanjiani to deal with his parents, her parents and his love for Emily.

This forms the core of the film, which promises to revive the now dead Hollywood romcom genre with its intelligently emotional comic take on relationships and cultural differences.


Another element that makes The Big Sick interesting, especially for Indians, is the casting of Anupam Kher as Nanjiani’s conservative Muslim father. What’s more, it’s the veteran actor’s 500th film and it’s a role that Kher chose to do because Nanjiani’s father insisted that Kher play him on the big screen.

Speaking to IndiaWest, Kher had said that he’s very excited about the film and the buzz around it because, “it’s about cross-culture, about inspirational life, about believing in love, about parents.”

The cherry on top of the cake is that The Big Sick has got some amazing reviews in the international press.

The New York Times gave the film a thumbs up in its review saying, “Few filmmakers know how to fit contemporary men and women, straight or gay, into narrative forms that were developed once upon a time. In The Big Sick, Mr Nanjiani and Ms Gordon vault over that hurdle with openness and delight, revitalizing an often moribund subgenre with a true story of love, death and the everyday comedy of being a 21st-century American.”


The film got a 4-star rating from The Guardian. “...The Big Sick is not just the story of a comedian trying to earn a living. It’s a great many other things too, all working seamlessly together to create a charming, multifaceted film that never feels as overstuffed as it could in different hands. It’s primarily a romantic comedy, but also a family drama detailing the unusual courtship between Nanjiani, his girlfriend and her parents,” reads the review.

Zoe Kazan and Kumail Nanjiani in <i>The Big Sick.</i>
Zoe Kazan and Kumail Nanjiani in The Big Sick.
(Photo courtesy: Twitter)

The Hollywood Reporter was also full of praise for the film after it premiered at Sundance earlier this year. Meanwhile, CNN recently called The Big Sick a film that “delivers a healing dose of heart and comedy”.

Watch the trailer of The Big Sick:


(This article is from The Quint’s archives and was first published on 24 June 2017.)

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