Kumail award

Pakistani American actor/writer Kumail Nanjiani (l) and writer Emily V. Gordon accept the ‘Best Comedy’ award for “The Big Sick” onstage during the 23rd Annual Critics’ Choice Awards at Barker Hangar Jan.11 in Santa Monica, Calif., as producer Judd Apatow looks on. Seen at the back are actresses Holly Hunter (l) and Zoe Kazan. Indian American actor Aziz Ansari, who was nominated in the ‘Best Actor in a Comedy Series’ category for his role in “Master of None,” however, did not win. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

In “The Big Sick” actor Kumail Nanjiani brought to light an unpleasant undercurrent of racism that prevails in American society but with his signature brand of subtle humor. And on Jan. 11, the Pakistani American actor/writer mirrored those same thoughts when he took to the stage with his wife Emily V. Gordon to accept the Critics’ Choice Award for ‘Best Comedy’ for the “The Big Sick.”

“Judd, Mike and Barry…I’d like to thank all the white men who allowed us to stand here today,” Nanjiani stated after accepting the trophy. “Truly without you we just wouldn’t be here.”

He also used the platform to address another hot-button topic in Hollywood.  

“We’re very happy that our movie is coming out in a year where Hollywood is having a lot of difficult conversations with itself, and we’re amplifying voices that have been silenced for too long,” Nanjiani went on to say, referencing the recent wave of sexual harassment allegations out of Hollywood and the #MeToo movement that followed. “And I think as men, we have been talking for centuries. It’s time for us to shut up, listen and amplify.”

Drawing on his own life’s experiences, Nanjiani co-wrote the romantic comedy story with Gordon and in the process created a film in which the characters took on a life of their own.

Produced by Judd Apatow and Barry Mendel and directed by Michael Showalter, Nanjiani stars opposite Holly Hunter, Zoe Kazan, Indian actor Anupam Kher and Ray Romano in “The Big Sick.”

“The Big Sick,” which follows the story of an interracial couple who must deal with cultural differences after Emily (played by Kazan) becomes ill, was up against “The Disaster Artist,” “Girls Trip,” “I, Tonya,” and “Lady Bird.”

The film, which was released by Amazon Studios/Lionsgate, wowed critics and audiences alike.

Nanjiani, also known for his co-starring role as Dinesh in the award-winning HBO comedy series, “Silicon Valley,” was also nominated for ‘Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series’ for “Silicon Valley,” but did not win.

He also lost the award for the ‘Best Original Screenplay’ to Jordon Peele’s “Get Out,” and the ‘Best Actor in a Comedy’ award to James Franco for “The Disaster Artist.” “The Big Sick” was also a contender for the ‘Best Picture’ award, which ultimately went to “The Shape of Water.”

But the night didn’t prove as lucky for Indian American actor Aziz Ansari, who created history just last week by becoming the first Asian American actor to win ‘Best Actor in a Television Series Musical or Comedy’ at the 75th edition of the Golden Globe Awards. He was nominated in the ‘Best Actor in a Comedy Series’ category for his role in the Netflix drama, “Master of None.” The award went to Ted Danson for NBC’s “The Good Place.”

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