Kumail Nanjiani mines real-life cultural hurdles and avoiding an arranged marriage in ‘The Big Sick’

When he was 18, Kumail Nanjiani emigrated from Karachi, Pakistan, to Iowa to go to college. Four years later his parents came to the U.S., settling in New Jersey.

Nanjiani welcomed the thousand-mile buffer zone, not because he didn’t love his parents but because they expected, per traditional Pakistani culture, that they’d soon be finding a young woman for him to wed in an arranged marriage. His mother wasn’t letting distance deter her either, emailing Nanjiani pictures of prospective matches, some of whom he knew from Karachi.

Nanjiani had no intention of letting his parents dictate his choice of a romantic partner. But he also had no idea how to broach the subject with them.


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