The cross-cultural comedy, What’s Love Got to Do with It, premiered at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival and won Best Comedy at the 2022 Rome Film Festival. Directed by award-winning filmmaker Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth) and written and produced by Jemima Khan (Impeachment: American Crime Story), the filmmakers tackle the question of finding lasting love in modern times. The film is set in London and features two friends who grew up next door to each other, Zoe Stevenson (Lily James, Pam & Tommy) and neighbor Kazim Kahn (Shazad Latif, Star Trek: Discovery).
Zoe is a documentary filmmaker, and Kazim is a doctor. While Zoe has used various sources to find men to date, she does not find one to have a serious relationship with. Kazim thinks he should marry but does not have anyone in mind when he announces his BFF, Zoe. He decides to pursue the family tradition of an arranged (or “assisted” as is the modern term) marriage.
This romantic comedy is entertaining yet remains predictable about Zoe and Kazim overall. The script is good, and so is the cinematography, but it is so apparent that Zoe hides some feelings for him after growing up alongside each other all their life. Kazim goes through the process of screening potential brides. One lawyer from Pakistan, Maymouna (Sajal Ali, Yakeen Ka Safar), is of interest, and virtual talks begin, much to the joy of each set of their parents.
Zoe offers to film and create a documentary about his journey from London to Lahore to meet and marry someone he hardly knows, something entirely different for Zoe from any approach she has tried to find a compatible person. The families in the neighborhood are Muslim Pakistani-British and white British. So, if Zoe grew up around the family all her life, I found it unusual that Zoe’s character is portrayed as having so little knowledge of “assisted” marriages over the years.
Zoe has a history of short-lived relationships. Her mother (Emma Thompson, excellent) hatches a plan for Zoe to meet the handsome and kind young veterinarian who takes care of the family dog. Zoe sees through the setup and has little to no interest at first but then goes ahead and dates him for a while. It does not take long after the marriage that it is not going well, nor does Zoe’s relationship with XXXXX, who can see right through her actions and feelings.
Even though I deem this film predictable, it does not mean it shouldn’t or can’t be enjoyed. The writing is better than other romantic comedies released in the past, and the story can appeal to audiences in general. The actors are all giving tremendous and authentic performances.
What’s Love Got to Do with It? stars Shabana Azmi (Halo), Academy Award® and BAFTA winner Emma Thompson (Matilda), Asim Chaudhry (Black Mirror: Bandersnatch), Jeff Mirza (Eternals), and Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan as himself.
About the music: Ivor Novello Lifetime Achievement Award-winning and Mercury Prize nominated composer, Nitin Sawhney CBE, created the music for the film with British-Pakistani record producer, DJ, songwriter, and musician Naughty Boy, who brought his production and writing skills to the soundtrack alongside three-time BRIT Award and Mercury Prize nominee Joy Crookes. The film features an original song by Naughty Boy called “Mahi Sona (The Wedding Song),” with a memorable vocal performance from star Lily James. Kanika Kapoor and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan are also featured on the soundtrack, with Rahat appearing in the film.
Available for Digital rental and purchase now from Shout! Studios.
Source: Working Title Films