Sajal Aly stuns at ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It?’ premiere | The Express Tribune

Sajal Aly’s debut international film What’s Love Got To Do With It? premiered in the UK at the Odeon Luxe cinema in London’s Leicester Square on Monday. Jemima Khan, alongside the entire star cast of the film, including Sajal, Lily James, Emma Thompson, director Shekhar Kapur, among others, graced the red carpet with their appearances.

Sajal went for a fusion co-ord look for the evening, donning a navy blue, glittery velvet gharara with a high-necked shirt. She wore matching earrings to go with the dress and kept her make-up minimal. The actor even carried a stole, taking a step back from the usual western wear spotted at red carpets abroad.  

Jemima, on the other hand, wore a silk green dress with puff sleeves and a low-cut neck. She, too, kept her overall look minimal and let her hair down. In the meanwhile, Lily looked dashing in a busty, bodycon dress with light green embellishments. While Emma wore a lavender suit with a white shirt inside.

The cast also offered its two cents on the film while speaking to HeyUGuys on the red carpet. Sajal, when asked about the fabulous celebration of two different cultures in the Jemima story, said, “I am actually glad and so happy that I did this project. And the reason I did this project when I read the script was because it seems to me the very first project that shows Pakistan and Pakistani culture in the right way. It has shown Pakistan as colourful, joyful and beautiful.”

She went on to relay that she had never imagined standing “here” in London, making her international debut. “I honestly never thought of it. I live in the moment I don’t think about the future. This film, coming my way was a surprise for me. I am just glad I am representing Pakistan on this platform.” The star elaborated, “It is because I was an outsider, right? This was my first international project. So initially of course I was very nervous but everyone made me feel like I belong here.”

Director Shekhar, when asked about the cultures represented, held, “I don’t see it as two different cultures. I, for many years, have seen what’s inside us. You go way beyond the skin colour, way beyond the accent, go inside us, deep inside us we’re all really all the same. That’s why I really wanted to do this film.”

The Indian filmmaker continued, “You see that once you get involved in the emotional lives of the people, you stop caring about the culture, the background. You say, hang on, my grandma’s just like that. And every character’s seeing their own family members, their own neighbours in other characters from other cultures in the film and that’s what creates harmony.”

The host inquired about the love Jemima has poured into the film and the characters she has carved, “How do you suppose she managed to do that?” Shekhar replied, “By not defining love. When you define something, you confine it. Love will always be a yearning, a mystery. And as long as a mystery is kept alive, love will be alive. That’s what a lot of people do in Hollywood and Bollywood films. The films end with characters hugging it out on train stations and airports. We’re saying, it’s a work in progress.. Love is a work in progress. Your whole life is a work in progress.”

The writer and producer, Jemima herself, when questioned about how she felt now that her film, which has been in the making since forever, is finally out, said, “It’s kind of amazing and unreal to be here this evening after such a long time. It feels like it’s been a very long time. My friends who have come tonight can’t believe it’s actually got to this point because it took me about 10 years to write and about a year or more to make because of Covid and all.”

Upon being lauded for making a film that translates across cultures so well, she maintained, “The film explores the differences in freedom of love because in the west there appears to be a certain kind of freedom in choosing your relationships. But this explores that freedom and tears it apart in a very special way. I think there’s either too much choice or too little choice at the two ends of the spectrum. I was more interested in showing how, in arranged marriages, there’s also consent and freedom, but the choice is more limited and the first choice isn’t made by you.”

Emma, who also made it to the very special occasion, revealed her reasons for accepting the film. “It was a really great script, I read it many, many times and it just got better and better. Jemima’s been writing it since forever. And she’s written something so delicate, so meaningful, so fun. And also, Shekhar Kapur our director, he drew that very fine line between a romantic and dramatic comedy. I think it’s a wonderful.”

When asked about her thoughts on arranged marriages now, she said, “I mean, I’ve always thought I’d be really good at choosing somebody for Gaia (Emma’s daughter). But there’s no accounting for love, and that’s just trouble.”

She added, “I think we do think we tell a lot of very bad stories on love. They’re all based on the happily ever after and suggest that being in love lasts forever, which it doesn’t. So, we need to be clear about that and tell better stories about love, marriages and long-term relationships. Because I think, there’s an awful lot of anguish and disappointment in people’s lives, they think somehow, they’ve not been good enough and I think it’s very difficult. So, I think this is a very lovely film for that.”

Sajal’s film is a British romantic-comedy that also features Asim Chaudhry, Shabana Azmi, Oliver Chris, Jeff Mirza and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.

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