Minority-Review’s Swati Sharan got to hang out with the talent from Shekhar Kapur’s English feature What’s Love Got To Do With It at the Toronto International Film Festival 2022. The film traces a filmmaker’s journey (Lily James) researching arranged marriages for a documentary she is working on. She starts with her neighbour Kazim (Shazad Latif) who is pursuing an arranged match. The film is set in the Pakistani community in London, England and is produced by Jemima Khan with a background score by famous musician Indo-Brit Nitin Sawhney. Emma Thompson, Shabana Azmi, Jeff Mirza and Asim Chaudhry are amongst some of the other stars in the film.

Here are questions we posed to the talent of What’s Love Got to Do With It:

What was it like playing your role?

Jeff Mirza: Well, I am playing the role of what we call a desi dad. I am a desi dad. In a way it’s easy because I have lots of experience being a desi dad. This character is like that but not like that as well. So, in this, we are like a fish out of water. Everything’s much more multicultural now. This is comical and very well-written. The script is such that you can sink your teeth into it.

Do you think since the phenomenon of online dating has taken off in the West, the idea of arranged marriages may feel less strange here?

Asim Chaudhry: Less strange? Online dating has a procedure to it doesn’t it? You see the person. You see the credentials. It’s not like it used to be. You just meet someone and fall in love. There is a bit of arrangement with love marriages these days. I think that’s a good question. I didn’t think of it this way. But it’s true.

I noticed you were talking earlier with the other reporter about how you have a protective layer around you. How do you try to wear this protective layer of energy around you to protect your creativity? 

Asim Chaudhry: Therapy. No, really. Through me having therapy. My therapist is the one who told me about protecting my energy and putting boundaries on it. Boundaries are very important. You have to protect your energy within because if you give 100% to everyone, if you try to please everyone, you ultimately please no one. That’s something I learned from therapy, which if you can afford it, everyone should have therapy.

Would you think the closest parallel for an arranged marriage for the West would be the idea of two unknown people being matched as roommates?

Jemima Khan:  It’s a good question. It depends on who matches them. The key to arranged marriages is the person doing the matching is the person that knows you the best. It doesn’t have to be your parents. It can be whoever is your designated family. It’s about that person choosing the most compatible person for you, I think.

I can’t help but observe your fashion sense. I am highly impressed. Who is your designer?

Jemima Khan: I am afraid this has been in my cupboard for 15 years. It’s a really old dress, my Roland Mouret.

We know you from your work with Sting right?

Nitin Sawhney: That was a long time ago.

What was it like working on the background of a desi movie?

Nitin Sawhney: It’s lovely. It’s been great. The whole film is about breaking down barriers. Shekhar Kapur is one of my heroes. I loved Bandit Queen. I loved Elizabeth. Shabana Azmi is also an incredible actress. Everyone in it is incredible. It’s about breaking down barriers. The narrative is about breaking down barriers. I think it’s something we will celebrate. It’s different cultures. It’s a feel-good, uplifting movie. There needs to be something out there that lifts people. I think this is one of the films that does it well.

Do you feel this film reflects the realities of desis in the UK? 

Nitin Sawhney: I think a lot of people will react very well to the film because I think it does capture quite a lot about the UK and the diaspora as well. It’s a film that stands well on its own. It’s a lovely romance that crosses all boundaries and barriers. I think that’s the great thing about it.

What was it like playing your character?

Lily James: Amazing. Jemima Khan just got us the most incredible and beautiful script. It was all there on the page. The character I am playing is this ambitious young filmmaker and she is struggling to fit, find love, figure out what she wants. It’s very relatable.

What was your inspiration for the film?

Shekhar Kapur: Love. Search for love. Yearning.


Watch the video:

Like it? share with friends