Of Pakistani background, Kumail Nanjiani is trying to make a living as a stand-up comic in Chicago, he hanging out with other struggling comics in wanting to make it big, such opportunities which include trying to impress Bob Dalavan whenever he is in the audience, Dalavan who sets the lineup for the Montreal Comedy Festival. To make ends meet, Kumail also works as an Uber driver. His parents emigrated to the US for a better life for the family, while they retain their cultural beliefs.
To keep his parents happy, they who know about his stand-up life, Kumail lies to them that he is studying to take the LSAT while he has no intention to do so or thus become a lawyer. He also dutifully attends dinners at their house where they’ve invited potential brides for him ultimately in having that arranged marriage, while he doesn’t tell them that he has no intention of ever marrying any of those women regardless if there is any spark in that meeting, he wanting to fall in love and marry the woman of his own choice.
This latter lie is all the more difficult as they arranged the marriage for Kumail’s brother Naveed and his now wife Fatima, who are happy in their life. Although neither is looking to date when they meet, Kumail and Caucasian grad student Emily Gardner, who was in the audience at one of his shows, begin a relationship which develops into something serious. However, much like Kumail lies to his parents, he also lies to Emily in not telling her about the arranged “dates” at his parents’ house, he not yet willing to stand up to them even in being in this relationship.
This lie threatens Kumail and Emily’s relationship. Kumail may get a clearer picture of love, marriage and the dichotomy between his want not to disrespect his parents while respecting his feelings for Emily when he meets Emily’s parents from North Carolina, Terry and Beth Gardner, with Emily their collective focus while still somewhat of a bystander in what happens between Kumail, Terry and Beth.
The Big Sick is a 2017 American romantic comedy film directed by Michael Showalter and written by Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani. It stars Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Adeel Akhtar, and Anupam Kher. Loosely based on the real-life romance between Nanjiani and Gordon, it follows an interracial couple who must deal with cultural differences after Emily (Kazan) becomes ill.
The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2017. It began a limited theatrical release on June 23, 2017, by Amazon Studios and Lionsgate, before going wide on July 14, 2017. One of the most acclaimed films of 2017, it was chosen by American Film Institute as one of the top 10 films of the year and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
The Big Sick grossed $42.9 million in the United States and Canada, and $12.8 million in other territories, for a total gross of $55.6 million. In the film’s limited opening weekend, it made $421,577 from five theaters (a per-theater gross of $84,315, the best of 2017 until Lady Bird in November), finishing 17th at the box office. The film expanded to 2,597 theaters on July 14, 2017, and was projected to gross $9–11 million over the weekend. It grossed $7.6 million over the weekend, finishing fifth at the box office. On July 25, the film crossed $26 million, becoming the second highest-grossing independent film of 2017.
About the Production
In December 2015, it was announced Kumail Nanjiani would star in the film from a screenplay written by him and wife Emily V. Gordon, while Judd Apatow would produce alongside Barry Mendel, under their Apatow Productions banner, while FilmNation Entertainment would finance the film. Michael Andrews composed the film’s score.
In February 2016, Zoe Kazan joined the cast, along with Holly Hunter and Ray Romano in April 2016. Unlike many of the other portrayals in The Big Sick, Romano’s and Hunter’s roles in the film were not modeled after Emily V. Gordon’s actual parents. Instead, Hunter said that she never contacted or spoke with Gordon’s mother before playing the part, as she wanted to “feel my own freedom with the character”. In May 2016, Aidy Bryant, Bo Burnham, Adeel Akhtar and Kurt Braunohler also joined the cast of the film. David Alan Grier was cast in The Big Sick after he met with Emily V. Gordon when she was a writer for The Carmichael Show. Grier’s role was part of a larger subplot that was ultimately cut from the film’s release.
Anupam Kher’s casting in the film was reported in June 2016. He was directly contacted by Kumail Nanjiani himself, as Nanjiani’s own father had recommended Kher play the role. According to Kher himself, his character’s last scene in the film was the first scene he had filmed for the production. The Big Sick marks Kher’s 500th appearance in a feature film.
The screenplay for The Big Sick is written by Emily V. Gordon and her husband Kumail Nanjiani and is loosely based on the real-life courtship between them before their marriage in 2007. According to Nanjiani, the idea to make a script about them was first inspired by the film’s eventual co-producer Judd Apatow when the two met while appearing in a 2012 episode of the You Made It Weird podcast. Developed over the course of three years, the script has been called semi-autobiographical because, in addition to the two lead characters modeled after them, many of the events occurring during Gordon and Nanjiani’s relationship are noted as being portrayed to an extent in the film.
Though not part of the original script, a real-life incident involving Holly Hunter heckling an unnamed player during a US Open tennis match inspired a similar scene in the film where Nanjiani’s character is heckled during one of his stand-up sets.
The Big Sick (2017)
Directed by: Michael Showalter
Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Anupam Kher, Zenobia Shroff, Aidy Bryant, Myra Lucretia Taylor, David Alan Grier, Vella Lovell, Kurt Braunohler
Screenplay by: Emily V. Gordon, Kumail Nanjiani
Production Design by: Brandon Tonner-Connolly
Cinematography by: Brian Burgoyne
Film Editing by: Robert Nassau
Costume Design by: Sarah Mae Burton
Art Direction by: Andy Eklund
Music by: Michael Andrews
MPAA Rating: R for language including some sexual references.
Distributed by: Amazon Studios, Lionsgate Films
Release Date: June 23, 2017