Women from across the north of England gathered at Bradford based Inspirational Women Foundation, on Bolton Road, on Friday 17 February, for a spot of lunch, with global stars Jemima Khan and Sajal Aly.
The iconic duo was in Bradford for a meet and greet, organised by the Inspirational Women Foundation, to discuss their latest film ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It? which is written and produced by Jemima Khan, directed by Shekhar Kapur and stars Lily James, Shazad Latif, Emma Thompson, Shabana Azmi, Sajal Aly, Asim Chaudhry, Jeff Mirza and Mim Shaikh. The film, which releases in cinemas on 24 February is being described as Jemima’s love letter to Pakistan and is being appreciated for breaking cultural stereotypes, myth busting marriage and the representation of Pakistan.
Fatima Patel, CEO and founder of the Inspirational Women Foundation, a not for profit organisation tackling gender inequality, along with Bradford Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe welcomed Jemima and Sajal to Bradford.
Addressing a room full of women, consisting of lawyers, academics, CEO’s international business leaders, politicians, sports personalities Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe said: “It’s great to have Jemima here in Bradford. We’ve all been really looking forward to you coming. We are delighted to have you here. Bradford is going to be the City of Culture in 2025 in the UK. We are delighted about that, and we are also one of the first UNESCO City of Film. So, considering you are a screen writer, we are really looking forward to this film. It’s great to welcome you to this City of Film. We all wish you well with the film.”
Fatima added: “It was an honour to have Jemima and Sajal in Bradford who are celebrated women by our communities and to hear first hand about their upcoming film, was just a delight. I am very grateful to all the women who attended and made the lunch a truly inspiring and uplifting occasion.”
Jemima and Sajal were met with rapturous applause of admirers who mobbed the duo for
selfies and questions.
Speaking at the lunch Jemima shared how the idea for her film came about.
She said: “The idea for the film [What’s Love Got To Do With It?] stemmed from my 10-years of living in Pakistan. I lived in a traditional set up, with my ex-husbands family – with his father, his sisters, their husbands and their kids in one house.
“I had one idea of what an arranged marriage might be, but I came away with a completely different idea, living up close with people who had really happy arranged marriages. I think there’s a tendency if you’ve never been to Pakistan, if you are not familiar with that idea, to almost conflate forced marriage with arranged marriage.
“Even Google does. If you Google how many people have arranged marriages in the UK, it comes up with forced marriage figures. So, you’re like no, no, that’s a whole different thing. So for me I started to think that there are enough people in the UK who trust an algorithm rather than the person who knows them best and loves them the most.
“Maybe so the idea of the film came from me coming back to the UK and saying to my girlfriends, who wanted to settle down and have kids in their thirties. I was like imagine if you had an arranged marriage, who do you think your parents would have chosen? Would it have worked? And what might that be like? So, the idea of the film came from that.”
The film is already getting rave reviews from those who have been able to grab a special screening, calling it a changemaker in challenging stereotypes of Pakistan and Pakistanis.
Jemima admits, she wanted to show a different Pakistan on our screens to the one’s that people have been all too familiar with in the West and for those who have never been to Pakistan, who might see it as a ‘scary inhospitable place’, which the screenwriter admits is not her experience.
“My experience of Pakistan was of a beautiful country full of hospitality and kindness – politics aside.” Said Jemima
“I felt like we needed a rom com which celebrated Pakistan and Pakistanis. There are no baddies that are Muslim in this film.” She continued. “There are no shady ISI operatives. There are amazing Pakistani and Indian talent in the film.”
What’s Love Got To Do With It? is out in UK cinemas from 24th February.