What’s Love Got to Do with It?
A quintessentially British romantic comedy with a touch of Bollywood flair, What’s Love Got to Do with It? is brought by production company Working Title, best known for making ultra successful romcom classics such as Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’s Diary and Love Actually, to name a few. It’s not quite as brilliant as the titles mentioned, but their latest feature vibrates with the same energy as these classics and has a cross-cultural twist that makes it stand out.
Directed by Shekhar Kapur and written by Jemima Khan, the feature relates the story of Zoe (Lily James), a young documentary filmmaker looking to produce her next project. When her longtime friend Kaz (Shazad Latif) announces that he is ready to settle down and is starting the arranged marriage process, she is inspired to make his journey the subject of her new documentary. She is intrigued that Kaz’s choice is propelled by his own desire, rather than parental coercion, and she follows him around with a camera from the preliminary research stages all the way down to the aisle, asking him probing questions all along. Inevitably, this introspective process makes them both question their life choices.
Much of the comedy comes from the juxtaposition of Zoe’s White British background with Kaz’s British Pakistani family traditions. Comic relief is usually provided by Zoe’s mother (an electrifying Emma Thompson), who lives next door to Kaz’s family and whose antics expose the disadvantages of both Western and Eastern approaches to finding love. Ultimately, the film is as understanding of arranged marriages and strict Eastern traditions as it is sympathetic to messy, chaotic Western lifestyles. It makes tongue-in-cheek digs at both cultures whilst respecting all perspectives equally.
The fair and balanced outlook is informed by Jemima Khan’s own personal story as a British socialite who lived in Pakistan for a decade when she married cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan. She refers to this production as “a love letter to Pakistan”; her intention is to challenge stereotypes and show a more colourful, joyful image of the country that is still very close to her heart.
Although the film doesn’t engage emotionally as much as it ought to, given the subject matter, and in spite of the fact that it feels like a romcom-by-numbers at times, it’s still a refreshing and vibrant movie that is humorous without resorting to vulgarity, and lighthearted even as it deals with big, complex topics.
What’s Love Got to Do with It? is released nationwide on 24th February 2023.
Watch the trailer for What’s Love Got to Do with It? here: