Did your dad and mom disapprove?
My mom positively disapproved, I feel, for a extremely very long time. She’d be sitting with the aunties and everyone can be speaking about how their youngsters went to high school and at the moment are pursuing engineering or no matter company [job] — and she or he would simply be like, “Yeah, Iram went to Caltech,” after which there can be silence. But now I feel she’s understanding it, they usually’re proud. It’s additionally simply arduous for them to know what success is. For them, success is an Oscar.
How has your science background knowledgeable your filmmaking?
I basically imagine that the artist’s thoughts and the scientist’s thoughts are very comparable as a result of each are bent upon curiosity.
In phrases of the father-daughter relationship within the movie, did you purposely attempt to subvert the expectations of what audiences have come to count on of South Asian depictions?
The truth is that there are a number of fathers on the market on this planet who’re extraordinarily candy and optimistic to their daughters, and this exists. Even the grandfather, he’s nonetheless a really smooth and candy man. And I used to be form of bored with seeing that narrative. I don’t suppose it was a aware factor: “Oh OK, here’s that theme, let’s make it kind of the opposite.” I simply suppose it was all the time one other factor that I’ve usually struggled with, that I really feel that generally girls have been conditioned to push the patriarchy extra.
What influence do you suppose the movie can have at this time, particularly after the Trump presidency?
Anti-Muslim bigotry may be very a lot current; communities of coloration are having to guard [themselves] much more when it comes to surveillance. And the truth that this can be a household that is rather like yours — [the film can] mainly humanize and join so that you don’t consider Muslims as unicorns, however they’re truly identical to individuals you’ll know, like your neighbors. So we’re simply hoping to offer one other knowledge level of what it means to be Muslim-American and hopefully create extra similarities.
Because on the backside of all of this, this can be a story a couple of household making an attempt to reconnect. Yes, they occur to be Muslim. But it’s about secrets and techniques, it’s about intergenerational trauma, battle, these issues.