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The Tiger Hunter: A Muslim Immigrant Searching for the American Dream

The Tiger Hunter movie shows the life of a muslim immigrant through comedy, by director Lena Khan

Amidst Trump’s Muslim Ban and anti-immigration movements across America, The Tiger Hunter tells the reality of being an immigrant.

Since fighting hate with hate has only proven to birth more hate, director Lena Khan is confronting anti-immigration and Islamophobia with comedy through The Tiger Hunter.

When the son of the greatest tiger hunter in history leaves his small village in India to 1979’s Chicago in search of greatness, he finds it to be harder to make it in America than he had expected. In order to marry the love of his life, Sami needs to find a well paying engineering job and impress her father, but instead lands a draftsman position and visa set to expire in a month. Against all odds, Sami will make the best out of a bad situation and claim his glory as the son of the tiger hunter.

The movie was both written and directed by Muslim American Lena Khan, who drew inspiration to the story from real life experiences of immigrants – including her father who himself was a tiger hunter too.

It all started when “my brother’s friend randomly wrote me an email one day, and he’s like, since you’re in the industry, I wanted to tell you a story about my dad,” she told LA Magazine.

“When he came into the country, he and his roommates didn’t have much money. Somehow they pulled [their money] together and got this amazing suit, and they scheduled their job interviews around the availability of the suit. They’d sit around in their underwear, waiting for the guy to come back with the suit so they could go to their interview,” she recollects him saying, recommending that she “should do something with that.”

Indeed she did. Out of the struggle of several immigrants seeking prosperity in the land of opportunity, Khan made a movie that depicts the very essence of that struggle, but with a smile.

What the movie isn’t, is another version of Coming To America or Van Wilder, in which a naive immigrant gets into trouble and gets through it with alcohol and partying. Instead, it is story about an emotional journey of a man just trying to find his place in the world, told with a light heart.

The Tiger Hunter first premiered at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival on April 21, 2016, and has been screening at several theaters across the US since. Since it doesn’t seem like a world premier is happening anytime soon, we will just have to wait until it is available to buy online or on DVD.

The movie stars Danny Pudi as Sami Malik, Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) as Alex, his American best friend, and Karen David as Sami’s lifelong love Ruby. It also features Rizwan Manji, Iqbal Theba, Kevin Pollak, Samuel Page and Michael McMillian.

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