Pakistani-American Plays Silicon Valley Techie in HBO Comedy Show

“This guy’s a really good programmer, so that makes him arrogant, because of his skills in a very specific world. And then I take that arrogance and apply it to every other aspect of his life that he’s not good at. So I think that guy’s funny ’cause he’s arrogant — about everything, about how he thinks he is with the ladies. He’s not good with the ladies. You know, all that stuff. He thinks he’s cool. He’s not cool. He’s only good at programming.” Kumail Nanjiani on his role in HBO's "Silicon Valley"


Kumail Nanjiani, born in Karachi, Pakistan, has found success as a stand-up comedian in the United States. After completing high school in Pakistan, he attended Grinnell College in Iowa where he graduated in 2001. His comedy has been featured on a number of popular television shows including the Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and Conan. He has written for and acted on "Michael & Michael Have Issues" and has appeared on The Colbert Report and Burning Love.

Kumail's latest work is HBO’s new comedy, “Silicon Valley”, a half hour live action series that takes a light-hearted look at the start-up culture of Silicon Valley. The show, which premieres on Sunday, April 6, is written and directed by Mike Judge, who was also behind “Beavis and Butt-head,” “Office Space” and “King of the Hill.”  Kumail plays Dinesh Chugtai, an Islamabad-born Pakistani-American character, working as a lead engineer in a fictional start-up tech company called "The Pied Piper". The San Francisco Chronicle has praised it not only one of the best shows of the season, but the “best tech show yet” and “a Silicon Valley rarity: a start-up that’s a sure thing.” Here's an excerpt of San Francisco Chronicle's review of "Silicon Valley":

"“Silicon Valley” is full of quips and jabs that those familiar with the tech industry will find amusing, but it’s also broad enough to lure in average HBO watchers in the mood for a comedy. The show debuts on April 6 right after "Game of Thrones" on HBO."

Marvel Entertainment has recently introduced a new Ms. Marvel, a 16-year-old Pakistani-American superhero named Kamala Khan. Shahid Khan, a Pakistani-American businessman, became the first non-white owner of an NFL team two years ago. It's good to see Pakistani-Americans making their mark in sports and entertainment in addition to more traditional occupations like engineering and medicine.

Here's a video clip of Kumail Nanjiani's act:


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Comments

Riaz Haq said…
How young are the top tech geeks? Ages of #SiliconValley founders at founding of companies.

The data we collected confirms that 20-something founders are quite common among those who have built billion-dollar businesses.

The challenge with measuring age is that the data is relatively hard to find. Unless a founder has given his or her age in a magazine profile, or maintains a particularly public Facebook account, it’s hard to get age data without actually surveying entrepreneurs. But there is one clue to founder age that is often publicly available: the year they received an undergraduate degree, listed on LinkedIn. We decided to use this as a proxy for the age at which the founder was 22, under the assumption that this would provide age data that was accurate within a year or two. Unfortunately, LinkedIn does not include this data in its API, so we were limited by having to do manual research. We therefore picked a small but disproportionately influential dataset to examine: the founders of private, VC-backed companies valued at $1 billion or more.

The average age at founding in our dataset was just over 31, and the median was 30. Today, of course, these founders are quite a bit older, with an average age just under 39, and a median of 38.

http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/04/how-old-are-silicon-valleys-top-founders-heres-the-data/
Riaz Haq said…
From Forbes 4/14/14 issue:

"Put flags in a world map and you will see Sequoia (Silicon Valley's Top Venture Capital Firm that funded Oracle, Cisco, Yahoo, Google and LinkedIn) connecting with entrepreneurs born in Ukraine, Ireland, Finland, Greece, India, Pakistan, Venezuela and a dozen other countries. (By contrast, Kauffman Foundation data (compiled by Vivek Wadhawa)show that barely a quarter of all U.S. startups have at least one immigrant cofounder.)"

http://www.forbes.com/sites/georgeanders/2014/03/26/inside-sequoia-capital-silicon-valleys-innovation-factory/

Foreign-born founders, incl. #Pakistani-Americans, built 59% of startups in @Sequoia_Capital's Midas List portfolio http://onforb.es/1ePbi2j

I know at least 2 Sequoia funded #SiliconValley startups founded by #Pakistanis: Ashar Aziz's #Fireeye, Naveed Sherwani's #OpenSilicon
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a interesting except from a piece by Kalimah Priforce on lack of Blacks and Latinos in Silicon Valley high-tech jobs:

It’s one of the reasons why Blacks in tech would rather participate in a forum like the one gathered by the College Bound Brotherhood than pay attention to another article about why so very few of us exist in the land of innovation, Silicon Valley. Here are five top reasons why I avoid “lack of minorities in tech” articles:

(1) they’re mostly written by non-people of color who are focused on Silicon Valley but don’t live and work in Silicon Valley*

(2) they are written by non-techies, non-builders of technology products and services

(3) they focus on what is wrong with Black people, as if the problem lies with our culture

(4) they typecast Chinese, Indians, Pakistanis as model minorities who don’t have a problem with the status quo

(5) they lack investigative journalism, research, and actually interviewing those of us in the field

However, Giang’s BI article struck a chord because it targeted affinity groups by suggesting that Blacks in tech self-selected segregation, based on Maya Beasley’s Opting Out: Losing The Potential Of American’s Young Black Elite.

Beasley interviews sixty Black and White students and uses her small sample findings to draw a conclusion. It’s a good thing she isn’t in the startup world, because very few of us would get away with validating a business model based on sixty people, but apparently that’s sufficient for a book.

Here’s what Beasley’s work is missing – stepping off the campus and interacting with actual black entrepreneurs in tech. If she did, she’d have learned that most of us didn’t attend the University of California at Berkeley or Stanford. So part of her research is based on assumptions that have no real basis in the industry. She sticks to Cal and Stanford campuses, assuming that they would provide the primary pipeline for Silicon Valley entrepreneurship, and blames African-American students for not doing so. In her words, “Black students need to learn to interact with white people and have some amount of comfort with them and I don’t think that’s asking a lot.”

What I find most disturbing about her conclusions is that she singles out African-Americans when just about every ethnicity has their share of assimilation that is balanced with affinity grouping. When the state of California eliminated affirmative action programs, the number of Black students attending Cal and Stanford dropped. So there aren’t a lot of Black students to begin with. That must be uncomfortable for the many Black students who are just discovering themselves outside the comfort of their homes and backgrounds. There is a great amount of identity formation happening for minority students, but for the straight, privileged White guy, that process isn’t as crucial. He doesn’t have to worry about the words “monkey” written on his dorm door, or date rape, or someone posting a video on YouTube ridiculing his accent when talking to his parents back home.

So Blacks learning from other Blacks, and socializing with other Blacks is important, and perhaps necessary for a healthy sense of self. But according to Beasley, this places Black students at a disadvantage for getting into tech. Has she questioned why the status quo dictates that the gatekeeper for successful entry into tech is how well minorities and women get along with white males? For organizations like Women 2.0 and Girls in Tech, the approach is simple: women must support each other, and united, can shatter the glass ceiling in the tech world. Beasley doesn’t take this approach with Blacks, but rather, makes the claim that an assimilationist approach will create diversity in tech.


http://turnstylenews.com/2012/03/22/opinion-dont-blame-affinity-groups-for-silicon-valley-segregation/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's Express Tribune on Mir Zafar Ali, Pakistani-American Oscar winner Mir

Richard Parker swims in the Life of Pi ocean. Afterwards, the 10 million hair on the Bengal tiger’s body are wiped down, his fur gradually morphing from dripping wet to dry. In Frozen, we watch the little girl Elsa create snowfall and her enchanting ice world emerge. The line between fantasy and reality blurs, so real are the images. But this much is clear; the artist behind this graphic wizardry deserves the three Oscar awards he has received in six years.
The recognition from the industry for Pakistani visual effects artist, 38-year-old Mir Zafar Ali, has been nothing short of a dream come true. His latest Academy Award, for Frozen, was the first in the animation category for the Walt Disney Animation Studios. The 3D musical fantasy-comedy film is now the highest-grossing animated film in history, beating the Lion King and Toy Story 3. It has also made it to the top 10 biggest films, leaving far behind the likes of Star Wars and the Pirates of the Caribbean series.
Ali’s first Oscar came for The Golden Compass in 2008. He recalls the moment as being “very, very surreal.” “My wife Tamanna Shah was working at Paramount Studios at the time and we were invited to one of their Oscar parties. So we’re talking to people, having a good time and then the nomination for the best visual effects category came up and I almost dropped my drink when they announced The Golden Compass as the winner,” he said in a telephone interview with The Express Tribune.
It was a tough competition. They had been up against Transformers and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. “It took a good few seconds to sink in,” he recalled.
Ali’s forte is to mainly recreate natural phenomena such as water, fire, destruction and snow as well as visually recreate fantasy. This takes hundreds of hours of reference research, watching footage of natural phenomena such as tsunamis and storms and poring over science papers.
His second Academy Award came last year for the Life of Pi, a movie based on Yann Martel’s acclaimed novel. The Bengal tiger named Richard Parker stars in most sequences, although the real 300-pound tiger was only used when Pi and Richard are not in the same shot. The rest of the scenes consist of computer-generated images that give life to an extremely challenging script. It was in Life of Pi that a real animal and a digital one were used interchangeably for the first time. A team of 15 people were dedicated to creating just the fur by placing and combing all 10 million hair on his body.
But in the United States, even Oscar wins don’t promise job security. After the successes of Life of Pi and The Golden Compass, Ali found himself unemployed for some weeks. “After being in business for well over a decade, the company I worked for, Rhythm & Hues, filed for bankruptcy in 2013,” he said. “That was right after we won the Oscar for Life of Pi. There were major layoffs and I ended up on the chopping block after I wrapped up Percy Jackson 2 in April.”
The layoff came as a near blessing though and a couple of weeks later he was offered a job at Disney where he was assigned Frozen, leading to his second consecutive Oscar win. “The timing worked out perfectly for me.”
Ali grew up in Karachi watching a wide range of films and was particularly interested in science-fiction and fantasy movies. Jurassic Park was his first main inspiration. “It completely blew me away!” he said.
He studied at the BeaconHouse School Systems and always wanted to go to art school. “But back in the day, going to art school wasn’t thought of as a good career move — hell, it’s still not thought of as a good career move,” he admitted. As a result, it took him a while to figure out what he wanted to do..


http://tribune.com.pk/story/694984/karachi-to-hollywood-pakistani-visual-effects-artist-wins-third-oscar/
Riaz Haq said…
The #Karachi Whiz Kid And #Pakistan's First Hand Drawn Animated Flick, The Glassworker via @forbes. @usmanriaz1990 http://www.forbes.com/sites/sonyarehman/2016/02/21/the-karachi-whiz-kid-and-pakistans-first-hand-drawn-animated-flick/#8fadf015e98a …

In 2012, a young, unassuming Pakistani musician from Karachi created waves after being selected as a TEDGlobal Fellow, following the success of his brilliant composition, Fire Fly, which went viral a year before.

Sharing stage space at TEDGlobal – a conference that brings together trailblazers from across the world to deliver inspiring talks – with his idol, the renowned guitarist, Preston Reed, Usman Riaz was quickly propelled into fame.

This year, while still in its initial stages, Riaz’s The Glassworker, Pakistan’s first hand drawn animated production, brings with it the magic and innocence of a Studio Ghibli film.

Judging by the production’s teaser, which was also showcased at TED this year, The Glassworker is an enchanting visual treat.

Little wonder then, the fact that Riaz successfully met his Kickstarter funding goal in just sixteen days, this month.

“I’ve always loved the beauty of glassblowing,” Riaz said, speaking about the production’s concept. “It’s one of those rare art forms where the process of creating it is as beautiful as the finished result.”

Riaz, who stands as the production’s writer, director, and unsurprisingly, composer of The Glassworker’s musical score, began drawing well before his interest in music blossomed. “I’ve always loved art and animation,” the Studio Ghibli fan stated, mentioning that after studying a degree in fine arts, music and film overseas, he felt a strong desire to channel each medium into a work of art.

“What better way than to combine my work in art, music and storytelling than with animation?”
Riaz Haq said…
Actor Kumail Nanjiani: 'I feel more #Pakistani than I have in the last 10 years' #SiliconValleyHBO https://usat.ly/2tUlQZg via @usatoday


"I feel way more defined by my ethnicity now," Nanjiani says. "If there's an ethnicity that is maligned and attacked and demonized ... I'm with you. I stand with you. Because it's unavoidable that people are seeing me a certain way, I kind of want to own it. I feel more Pakistani than I have in the last 10 years."


NEW YORK — The Big Sick is not only a uniquely personal love story, but one that's taken on political undertones in the months since President Trump's inauguration.

Co-written by Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and his wife, Emily V. Gordon, the romantic comedy (in theaters Friday in New York and Los Angeles, expands nationwide July 14) is a lightly fictionalized account of the first year of their relationship, when an unexpected medical crisis landed her in a coma for eight days.

While Emily (played by Zoe Kazan) is in the hospital, Kumail (Nanjiani) gets to know her parents, Beth (Holly Hunter) and Terry (Ray Romano), who tag along with him to a comedy club one night where he's performing stand-up. When his set is disrupted by a heckler — who yells, "Go back to ISIS!" — Beth vehemently responds by trying to hit the man before she's thrown out.

"In test screenings, which we were doing before the election, (Beth's outburst) just got huge laughs," says Gordon, 38. But at festival screenings ever since Sundance Film Festival, where Sick premiered on Inauguration Day, "it often gets applause breaks, which is interesting."

Adds Nanjiani, 39: "I was very concerned at Sundance, like, 'How is this going to play?' I was just afraid that (scene) was going to be sad, but it isn't. It's joyful, but it's also righteous anger. People clap as if (it's) almost triumphant."

Nanjiani, who appears in HBO's Silicon Valley (Sundays, 10 ET/PT), was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, where he was brought up in a strict Shiite Muslim household. He moved to the USA at 19 to attend Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, and started doing stand-up comedy his senior year. But he was wary of incorporating his Pakistani background into his routine, save for his opening line, "Don't worry, I'm one of the good ones."
Riaz Haq said…
The Big Sick is funny, sweet, original – so why did it leave me furious?

by Hadley Freeman

https://www.theguardian.com/global/2017/jul/15/the-big-sick-funny-sweet-original-leave-me-furious

Too many romcom (romantic comedy) writers celebrate the power of love to cross boundaries, but end up trashing women from their own culture in the process

I went to the screening with a good friend, a British Pakistani woman, and her face at the end was a mix of weary amusement and intense irritation. It’s an emotion salad I know well, because it’s the same one I have felt after too many romcoms and TV comedies made by Jewish men – the ones which ostensibly celebrate the power of love to cross boundaries, but end up trashing women from their own culture in the process.

A running theme in The Big Sick is Nanjiani’s resistance to an arranged marriage, which is a perfectly reasonable position. What is less reasonable is the way all the Pakistani women his parents introduce him to are portrayed as pitiable, interchangeable and wholly conventional, even when they have lived in the US longer than Kumail, who was born in Pakistan. The only one who has potential is played by Vella Lovell, who isn’t even Pakistani but of mixed black and white descent. It’s as if the movie can’t imagine Kumail fancying a Pakistani woman, even in a fictional setting.

Nanjiani has said that the relationship between Kumail’s on-screen brother, Naveed (Adeel Akhtar), and his Pakistani wife present a positive portrayal of an Asian man in a relationship with an Asian woman, but this is disingenuous. Naveed and his wife are depicted as retrograde and dopey; the best Naveed can say about his wife is that she is his “best friend”, which, compared to the hot sexy time Kumail has with white women, sounds pretty dull. The message is clear: to marry a Pakistani woman would, for Kumail, be a surrender, a backwards step.


Jewish women are used to this schtick, thanks to the many, many love stories in which Jewish men are portrayed as exotically desirable while blond non-Jewish women represent the romantic ideal. Woody Allen and, latterly, Judd Apatow have both worked in this vein for decades, and it has long been implied in movies starring Jewish comedians such as Ben Stiller (Meet The Parents) and Adam Sandler (The Wedding Singer). Jewish women are represented as nasal, nagging or simply non-existent – someone to move on from as quickly as possible. In the early seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David’s clearly not-Jewish wife Cheryl (Cheryl Hines) is contrasted favourably with David’s manager Jeff’s wife, Susie (Susie Essman), who clearly is. As the critic Liel Leibovitz wrote in a 2009 essay on this subject, the modern romcom makes it the role of “the non-Jewish woman – a goddess, after all – to extricate her Jewish lover from his suffocating, crass and unhealthy environment and introduce him to her clean, well-lit world”.

American-Indian comedian Hasan Minhaj touches on this trope in his new standup special, Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King, in which he self-mockingly recounts his teenage hope that he’d be saved by “my white princess”. After Aziz Ansari was criticised for omitting Asian women from the first series of Master Of None, he is shown dating two in the second series, and they are – unlike in The Big Sick – modern and desirable (although he still ends up pining for a quirky white woman).
Riaz Haq said…
Five Pakistanis Who Have Taken Hollywood by Storm

http://pakistanlink.org/Community/2017/Nov17/03/05.HTM

1) Kumail Nanjiani
From stand-up comedian to actor, Kumail has already got a few designations under his belt.
The Silicon Valley star took it to the next level and carved more than a mark by writing and acting in The Big Sick – a biographical account of his love story with his (now wife) Emily Gordon. He recently appeared on SNL too – and man, what a speech!
If that wasn’t enough, he will be starring alongside professional wrestler John Cena in his next venture. What more could you want?
2) Faran Tahir
Son of veteran Pakistani actor Naeem Tahir, Faran may not be considered a household name yet but he is definitely familiar to millions around the world. You may recognize him as Raza in Iron Man (2008) or Captain Robau in Star Trek (2009).
The international artist has been a Hollywood insider for over 25 years now and has guest starred in many TV series and films. His debut appearance was in Disney’s The Jungle Book in 1994 as Mowgli’s father. You can currently watch him in the hit American TV Series Scandal.

3) Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy
Named as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine, this charmer needs no introduction. She’s earned a couple of Oscars and six Emmys for her work as an activist and film-maker, shedding light on profound issues surrounding women inequality.
She is all set to add another feather to her cap as she recently announced her next project, Look But With Love – Pakistan’s very own reality film series directed by herself.

4) Sameer Asad Gardezi
You can thank this man for the hysterical one-liners in the Emmy-winning hit series, The Modern Family.
The Pakistani-American screenwriter has worked for many big networks including Universal, Nickelodeon and ABC, and is also the recipient of the Writers Guild award for his exceptional writing skills. Sameer is currently writing for his next project, The Goodwin Games.

5) Dilshad Vadsaria
Troublemaker Rebecca Logan in the much-admired TV show Greek, is played by Pakistani actor Dilshad Vadvaria. The Karachi born star was also part of the regular cast of hit TV series, Revenge. Way to go girl!


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