Jemima Khan, Shabana Azmi Talk About Arranged Marriages
JEDDAH (IANS) – Writer-director Jemima Khan said she wanted to challenge “preconceptions that a lot of people in the West have about arranged marriages” when she tackled her first script for the movie ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It’, directed by Shekar Kapur which opened the Red Sea International Film Festival this week.
“I had wanted to make a film that showed Pakistan in a more colorful and hospitable and positive light than perhaps we usually see in our screens in the West,” said Khan, who lived in the country for a decade after marrying her former husband Imran Khan, the famed cricketer and later PM of the country.
“It was very much a lament of friends of mine in Lahore when I lived there that the only films that win awards in the West are the ones that denigrate their country.”
Speaking with the film’s actors Shabana Azmi and Sajal Aly, Khan added that her preconceptions about the concept of arranged marriages shifted after she spent time in Pakistan.
“I saw a lot of very successful arranged marriages,” she said adding, “That’s not to say that there isn’t a big difference between a forced marriage and the unhappy examples but I’m talking about the majority, which are done consensually, which are therefore often happy.”
“I am not dismissive of it at all because I’ve seen it working,” Azmi said of the subject. “And of course, it did surprise me a lot. I do think that there is some virtue in parents understanding that having similar backgrounds, particularly very strong cultural backgrounds, is a strong base to put something together. In the film, we say, ‘you walk into marriage, you fall into love.'”
The film reunites Azmi with director Shekhar Kapur after the duo worked together on Kapur’s first film ‘Masoom’ in 1983.
“It was very rewarding for me to see that we were coming back after so long and it didn’t seem like there had been a gap at all,” said the Bollywood star.
“I must say that the reason that I jumped at the film is that Shekhar rang me up and said, ‘Listen, this is a very good script.'”