What’s Love Got to Do with It? is a 2022 British romantic comedy film directed by Shekhar Kapur, from a screenplay by Jemima Khan. The film stars Lily James, Shazad Latif, Shabana Azmi, Emma Thompson, Sajal Ali, Oliver Chris, Asim Chaudhry, Jeff Mirza, Alice Orr-Ewing and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.
What’s Love Got to Do with It? premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on 10 September 2022, and, at the Rome Film Fest the following month, won Best Comedy (the Ugo Tognazzi award). It was nominated for 9 awards at the 2023 National Film Awards, winning 4 awards: Best Screenplay, Best British Film, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor. It was released in the United Kingdom on 24 February 2023 by StudioCanal to mixed reviews.
Set between London and Lahore, White British filmmaker Zoe Stevenson documents the experience of her British-Pakistani next door neighbours, in particular her best friend from childhood Kazim “Kaz” Khan’s arranged marriage to a bride from Pakistan.
Adamant on an arranged marriage to keep his parents happy, Kaz insists that such kind of marriages do work out, when questioned by Zoe. Eventually, a Muslim ‘matchmaker’ Mo, sets up a Skype call between Kaz and Maymouna, a girl from Pakistan. Kaz likes her, but she seems hesitant.
Eventually both Kaz and Maymouna’s families agree to the marriage, and Kaz prepares to go to Lahore. Zoe, documenting the entire process from start to end follows them to Pakistan, learning more about Pakistani culture and traditions along the way. She is constantly nagged by her mother for failing to find a suitable guy herself, and so through the trip she hopes to learn more about whether someone chosen by parents could work.
In Pakistan, Kaz prepares for his wedding and is constantly interviewed by Zoe about details of his feelings towards the girl and the marriage. Kaz is determined that if he keeps a positive attitude, the wedding will work out. However, on the inside he seems to have his doubts too. Zoe mentions their first kiss in a treehouse behind their homes and he deflects by berating her for failing to find someone because she is too focused on finding the perfect person, and doesn’t allow anyone to get close to her.
On the henna night, Kaz observes Maymouna smoking marijuana and dancing all over the floor, and realises she is not the girl he was expecting her to be. He leaves the event with Zoe in frustration and stumbles upon a qawwali performance in the inner streets of Old Lahore. As Kaz explains to Zoe what the qawwal is singing about, he realises that his ideas of love align with Zoe’s, but that he has chosen to ignore them. Later, both Kaz and Zoe try to explain their feelings to each other, but cannot seem to do so.
Kaz gets married to Maymouna the next day, and Zoe witnesses an emotional rukhsati. On return to London, she finally completes her film and the Khan family is invited to the premiere of the rough cut. On the same night, Zoe’s boyfriend breaks up with her because he thinks she is in love with Kaz and he’s just her Plan B. Zoe gets angry at her mother for setting her up with the guy in the first place, and accuses her of judging Zoe for her choices.
Zoe’s movie ends up annoying the Khan family for invading their privacy and is then rejected by her supervisors due to it having been filmed through a white lens. However, Maymouna loves it and tells Zoe it is beautiful.
Over the next few weeks, Maymouna and Kaz’s marriage begins to go stale as neither develops any feelings for the other. Kaz is determined to make it work but Maymouna says the only way to make it work would be to pretend. Maymouna eventually confesses to Kaz that she is in love with someone else.
As Eid approaches, Zoe decides to go to Turkey to take a break from all her emotional stress. Her mother insists that she admires Zoe for her independence and never judged her for any of the choices she made. They are invited over by the Khans for the Eid celebration and Kaz reveals to everyone that he is divorced. Zoe is overwhelmed and leaves, but Kaz follows her. He finds her in the treehouse and they share a kiss, confessing their feelings for each other but promising to take things slowly.
- Lily James as Zoe Stevenson
- Shazad Latif as Kaz Khan
- Shabana Azmi as Aisha Khan
- Emma Thompson as Cath Stevenson
- Sajal Ali as Maymouna
- Oliver Chris as James
- Asim Chaudhry as Mo
- Jeff Mirza as Zahid Khan
- Alice Orr-Ewing as Helena
- Iman Boujelouah as Yasmin Khan
- Pakiza Baig as Nani Jan Khan
- Sindhu Vee as the fertility doctor
- Shahid Khan (a.k.a. Naughty Boy) as a wedding guest
- Rahat Fateh Ali Khan as himself
In November 2020, it was announced Lily James, Emma Thompson and Shazad Latif had joined the cast of the film, with Shekhar Kapur directing from a screenplay by Jemima Khan, who will also serve as a producer on the film, alongside Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner who will produce under their Working Title Films banner, with StudioCanal to distribute. In January 2021, Rob Brydon, Shabana Azmi, Sajal Ali and Asim Chaudhry joined the cast of the film; Brydon does not appear in the final film.
Principal photography began in December 2020.
- What’s Love Got to Do with It? has been rated 6.3/10 by IMDB.
- 71%/100% by Rotten Tomatoes.
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