(For some reason, in the original link the author name of the article is “Hollie”. I swear I wrote this.)
It took a while, but Ali’s Wedding has set a unique precedent when it comes to translating the Australian immigrant story onto the big screen. Dubbed “Australia’s First Muslim Rom-Com,” it premieres on August 31st and based on Osamah Sami’s true and unfortunate events of his life, in which he fabricated his medical entrance exam, got deported from America due to a play about Saddam Hussein and escaped from an arranged marriage to chase after the girl of his dreams.
Osamah Sami’s plays a fictionalised version of himself, Ali who wanted to impress his father, a communal cleric. The film is set in suburbia Melbourne in a tight-knit Muslim community and chronicles Ali’s dilemma– which centres on fulfilling his father expectations to become a medical doctor and his own desires of “playing a terrorist” in Hollywood movie and his blossoming romance to his Muslim sweetheart, Dianne. Due to his undying admiration for his father, he resorted to telling the “biggest” lie of his life. His father was a fearless fugitive who escaped from war-torn Iran. If it wasn’t for his father’s two friends posing as prison guards when he got transferred to another prison, Ali wouldn’t be here. So, naturally, Ali wanted to follow in his father footsteps and fulfil his expectation to be a doctor. It rather a universal expectation amongst immigrant families, that there should be at least be one child who will ultimately be a doctor as it signifies being the astute good kid.
In every culture, there are set of nonsensical practices which adherents abide by, for no apparent reason. Islamic culture is filled with these strenuous traditions from their weddings to their funerals. The film seeks to satirise these traditions and illustrates its idiosyncratic nature —a prime example is the arranged marriage. Although, Ali fabricated his medical entrance score which he said it was a 96.8 (but really, it was 68.5), all of sudden Ali becomes desirable. Clueless (mainly, because his friend got smothered by car bile), he assumed that he supposed to drink the tea before the father does. There was dramatic tension in between the father and Ali to get their teacup the fastest. In rather true comedic fashion, Ali chugged tea as fast he could before the father can touch his tea. Although he was anticipating a rather sombre reaction, the room was busted with excitement as it means that he wants eagerly marry his daughter.
Interestingly enough, the film seizes opportunity highlights the gender disparity in Islamic culture. Men are often the ones that are being acknowledged for their achievements and contributions to their community, whilst the women stay silent and reserved with theirs. Although, Muslim women who defy against convention are silently shunned. The film highlights the dichotomy between “bad” Muslim woman and “good” Muslim woman in Diane and Yoma. There’s Dianne, Ali’s love interest, who is a strong-minded and intelligent Lebanese woman who got near perfect score on her medical entrance exam and community did not acknowledge her achievement. However, due to the fact that she is intelligent, she is called a “loose Muslim girl” by the community. Whereas Yomna, who is characterised as the “quintessential good Muslim girl,” a woman who is rather obedient to her husband. She is heralded as the “most beautiful woman” within the community due to fact that her high status of her father. It’s one of the films biggest strengths which it does not trivialises the struggle of women in the Islamic culture.
Overall, Ali’s Wedding is an endearing, heart-warming film romantic comedy which humanises the Muslim community in a world which vilifies it. It grounds itself in reality by showing the lack of acknowledgement of Muslim women and their achievements in their community and humorously exploits the absurdity their traditions. Amongst the cookie-cutter mainstream movies of Marvel superhero movies and countless remakes, the film is rather refreshing take on an otherwise a bland Hollywood romantic comedy. Hopefully, due to the success of this film paves an era of multicultural films within Australia