Cheerfully displays the serious relationship between two cultures, Eastern and Western
The opening film for the second session of the “Red Sea International Film Festival” is a British-Indian production entitled “What’s Love Got to Do With It”, written by Jemima Khan and directed by Shekhar Kapur. Who previously successfully directed two films about the history of the British Kingdom, “Elizabeth” (1998) and “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” in 2007.
This time, Kapoor refers to an important topic that is romantic and has comedic touches. Through it, he returns to what Bollywood cinema is famous for in terms of melodramatic and emotional films. Better than many of them, but those who have watched Kapoor’s previous films will find that this one was more luminous and valuable than this work.
Not because the film is bad or weak, but because the subject, after the director’s manifestations in British history in a way that distinguishes him from the attempts of the British directors themselves who aimed to present their stories about the queens and kings of Britain in previous centuries, wishes that he had chosen what remains in the mind for a long time, as is the case that works.
Motives and justifications
“What does love have to do with that?” raises the issue of pre-programmed marriage, through which cultures and customs differ between generations. It’s about a filmmaker named Zhao (Lily James) who comes to a difficult crossroads, because her projects are the kind that production companies don’t want to finance, because they wouldn’t, as they know it, be commercial.
She finds a lifeline to put her in the person of a friend and neighbor named Kaz (Shazad Latif), who is glad he has agreed to marry a woman he has never seen or known. This is what leads her to the decision to make a film about him and his choices, and thus about the social and cultural difference between Muslims who were born in Britain, and some of them, like Kaz, adhered to conservative traditions that allow them, in a present era, to accept the principle of marriage with a life partner who did not meet any of his parties. last before.
Zaw decides that the topic deserves a movie that allows the relationship between them to develop and be frank within a psychologically comfortable space, which helps to raise the right and wrong aspects of this topic. She follows him with the camera and with questions. Some encounters lack an actual intensity to leave an impact. Others repeat what has already been mentioned, and in many cases the dialogue does not leave a depth equal to the topic.
This topic is the result of a scenario that suffices with the presentation and uses dialogue as a facilitation of the tasks of that presentation. This choice is completely transmitted to the film, and it does not progress much in the direction of presenting justifications and motives, but rather floats above the surface even when the scene requires depth. Moreover, the skill of the scenario lies in providing two characters from two previous generations, each with different experiences. There is Zaw’s mother (Emma Thompson) and Kaz’s mother (Shaybaneh Azmi). Each character turns into a mirror that reflects the opposing point of view and reveals her opinion that is naturally inspired by her own life. Shabana Azmi performs a character that represents the other side of this encounter between East and West. She is the mother who married in the same manner and later discovered the consequences of such a marriage.
Both Thompson and Azmy represent the appropriate opportunity to open dialogues on the subject, reflecting the other and added opinion, and incidental to some of the history of the relationship between the two coexisting cultures in the West. Both of them (Azmi and Thompson) also performed better than the rest. Each of them has a different and long experience that allows them to fully harmonize with the requirements and contradictions of the two personalities.
When Kaz first gets to know the girl Maimona (Sajal Ali) is going to marry, this is done through the “Zoom” service, and he discovers that she is not ugly, large, or outwardly inappropriate for him. What if she? We don’t know for sure that she is playing the victim. Before we know, later, that this conservative girl has a “boyfriend”, and that it was her parents who forced her to get to know Kaz. He also coveted his position and his stable life in the West. Kaz’s reaction is ambiguous when the film reaches its conclusion, when he must choose between two contradictory directions. One goes along with his conservative life as a Muslim, and the other enters into it in the context of accepting the different reality that he was wary of.
There are fundamental problems with this argument. The first is that the justification is missing for what prompts Kaz to agree to a programmed marriage in the first place. The young man lives a complete modern life and fulfills its pillars steadily and without a contract, which prompts the question about this contradiction depicted on the screen as an immediate situation, and not as an actual situation that contains sufficient reasons.
This is what leads to the fact that the film does not go beyond presenting cases (including this cultural difference) in the midst of the confrontation between inherited traditions and the present reality. This is what comes at the expense of building and developing personalities rather than just presenting them as a present reality. The film can pass through such a choice if the scenario were a sequence of results and not a presentation of events.
If we omit these obstacles (which can be ignored if the purpose of the film is purely entertainment), then it achieves exactly what it aspires to. A brilliant workmanship that benefits a lot from the director’s experience and talent, but directs him and the film to the scope of comedic and emotional works that can rarely overcome the pitfalls of the scenario and the majority of the characters are devoid of permanent justifications for what they do.
Moreover, the inclusion of the cinema element within the cinema, or at least the reportage investigation element on such a case, is successful. What the director tends to do is to artistically enrich the story with his choices of shots, his smooth narration, and the multiplicity of colors and designs of the scenes themselves.
Director Shakhour is also credited for his impartiality, as a thinker and filmmaker, with regard to what he proposes. It is not within the scope of judging the act of pre-arranged marriage and not within the framework of preferring Western culture over Eastern. Perhaps this is what leads in the end to the film sticking to the cornerstone of pure entertainment while presenting such a thorny subject, and to that note about its lack of intensity in scenes that were expected to say more than what was shown.
“What’s Love Got to Do With It” contains a rhythm that moves smoothly and quickly. This, in turn, does not leave time for the situation to deepen, but at the same time it contributes to establishing conditions for easy and obedient work. It is director Shekhar Kapoor’s return to the genre of cinema he grew up with in India. But instead of moving to India (or Pakistan, depending on the characters), he moved India and the quality of its films, which are equipped with music, singing and dancing for the comedy aspect of the situations, to Britain, where he works, lives and is composed.