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Storyline (warning: spoilers)
Re-enacting his own story, Sami plays the titular Ali, an Iraqi in Melbourne and the second son trying to live up to his Muslim cleric father’s ideals while struggling with his own choices. Expected to become a doctor, he misleads his family about his grades rather than admit that he hasn’t done well enough to get into university. Expected to find a bride through an arranged marriage, he doesn’t tell his parents about his crush on Dianne, a fellow aspiring medical student and the daughter of a Lebanese fish and chip shop owner.
Instead, Ali adopts an age-old coping mechanism: faking it until he makes it (or, sneaking into classes until he can pass the entrance exam, and sneaking around with Dianne). Alas, his troubles multiply when he accidentally gets engaged to another woman during a matchmaking tea ceremony.
It’s plain to see that Ali’s Wedding wears its heritage on its sleeves; however, it does so both as a badge of honour and as a method of rebutting prevailing stereotypes. Showcasing diversity within Australian society isn’t its only aim; with much of the action taking place in and around a suburban mosque, it also aims to demonstrate the diversity within the Muslim populace itself.
Ali’s Wedding might commence with one of the biggest clichés in cinema — a mad dash to the airport, albeit on a tractor — every rom-com convention included plays into the film’s self-awareness. Flashbacks of growing up, attempts to run off and start a new life, and preparing for a big performance might be genre staples, but they don’t typically involve landmines, deportation from the US or a production of Saddam The Musical, for example.