Pakistani-American Comedian Kumail Nanjiani did not win an Oscar for his movie The Big Sick, despite being nominated in the category Best Original Screenplay, but he sure did not lack for attention at tinsel town’s biggest show March 4. Besides, he had already won an award just the night before the Oscars – for Best First Screenplay at the Independent Spirit Awards, he told the ABC host on the red carpet.
Nanjiani was a presenter along with Black Panther star Lupita Nyongo, for the Best Production Design, one of the first awards to be announced as the Oscars night began. Using his podium Nanjiani gave a shout-out to immigrant youth whose status is uncertain currently under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA. “For all the Dreamers out there – we stand with you,” he said to applause from the crowd of Hollywood hoi polloi.
Earlier in the evening, while on the red carpet with his wife Emily V. Gordon, both of whom collaborated on the script for the movie, Nanjiani told ABC the idea for the movie came to them 5 years ago. “It takes a long time,” Nanjiani said from the idea to its execution. The pair began writing the screenplay in 2012, and filming began 2 years ago.
During the night, a video presentation was screened on the need for diversity in Hollywood, where in a segment, Nanjiani joked about the lack of it. “Some of my favourite movies are movies by straight white dudes about straight white dudes,” Nanjiani said, adding, “Now, straight white dudes can watch movies starring me, and you relate to that. It’s not that hard. I’ve done it my whole life.” He also went on to say that the movies featuring diverse actors should be made because one could become rich on them.
Nanjiani’s comments were among the reasons for Indian-American actor Kal Penn to tweet, “The 2018 oscars so far for a young, aspiring artist sitting at home watching: james ivory. Ismail Merchant. Kumail. Jordan. Maya. Ana. Tiffany. Dreamers. Everything. Go write. Make movies. Tell our American stories.” Ivory won in the category, Best Adapted Screenplay, for Call Me By Your Name, and in his speech, the film-maker thanked the remainder his life-long romantic partner Indian-American Ismail Merchant, and writer Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.