Romcoms strike back

THERE is no doubt that romcoms are a dying aspect of the comedy genre.

Adam Sandler has lost his mojo; writers have used, reused and overused every cliché in the book; and there does not seem to be anything new to do. But “The Big Sick” tries to breathe life into a dying genre.

Written by and starring Kamail Nanjiani, the film is a carefully-crafted, deep and personal love letter by the 39-year-old Pakistani-American to his wife Emily V Gordon. Nanjiani (Kumail) is a struggling stand-up comic, who with his two best friends CJ (Bo Burnham) and Mary (Aidy Bryant) dreams of making it big.

During a routine set, a young medical student Emily (Zoe Kazan) heckles the comic so much that he confronts her. That sets off a whirlwind romance that is only curtailed by Kumail hiding the fact that his parents are secretly hunting for a bride for their son. When she finally finds out about the numerous prospective wives he has been auditioning at his parents’ house every other night, the two break-up. Near tragedy follows within a storm of cultural clashes and prejudice as love seeks to conquer all — another romcom cliché.

This ordinarily would be a bad thing but here it somehow works. The cast did a splendid job, carrying all the heavy emotional bits with aplomb, while the laughs hold everything together in a neat package.

Working with a budget of just US$5 million, the film has grossed over US$53 million making it the highest grossing independent film of 2017 so far. It has also made writer and star Nanjiani, previously known as the-other-Asian-guy-who-is-not-Dev Patel, into a credible actor in his own right.

(For those not in the know, Patel starred in the mega hit “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Lion”, while Nanjiani is mostly known for a string of television appearances in “Franklin and Bash”, “SNL”, “Veep” and “Silicon Valley”.)

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