(LEFT) Indian director Shekhar Kapur and the film’s screenwriter Jemima Khan, alongside (right) Pakistani actor Sajal Aly and British DJ and record producer Shahid Khan, sit for interviews during a photo call for the cast and production team of What’s Love Got to Do with It on the second day of the Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah.—AFP
(LEFT) Indian director Shekhar Kapur and the film’s screenwriter Jemima Khan, alongside (right) Pakistani actor Sajal Aly and British DJ and record producer Shahid Khan, sit for interviews during a photo call for the cast and production team of What’s Love Got to Do with It on the second day of the Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah.—AFP

JEDDAH: English TV and film producer Jemima Goldsmith said every character or anecdote in the film she’s co-produced, What’s Love Got to Do with It, came from her experience of living in Pakistan, and pretty much every dialogue taken from real life.

“I lived in Pakistan from ages 20 to 30 years. I would say every single character or anecdote (in the movie) comes from my experience; either I had it one way or the other or someone I met had it. All the characters are based on people I met and pretty much every line is taken from real life,” Ms Goldsmith said here on Friday while answering a question from Dawn at a press junket of select journalists for her movie, along with its director, Shekhar Kapur, and cast members Shabana Azmi and Sajal Aly.

Following a red carpet and opening ceremony, the film had kicked off the second edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival at the Ritz Carlton Hotel here on Thursday night with actors and artistes participating from across the world.

Over the next 10 days, 131 films in 34 languages from 61 countries would be screened in cinemas across Jeddah. Nearly three dozen films will mark their global premieres at the festival.

Jemima, who has also written the screenplay of the film, remembered hearing her friends in Pakistan lament that films in the West showed their country in a bad light. “I really wanted to make a joyous, colourful film about Pakistan. I think it’s a positive uplifting colourful film that hopefully brings people together. I hope it will have universal themes though it is inspired by my personal experiences in Pakistan.”

Indian filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, known for making internationally renowned award-winning films like Elizabeth and Bandit Queen, said it was getting tough to make movies these days. “If you want to make anything that’s very real, it’s hard.”

Veteran Indian actor Azmi said she would always get to play characters of Pakistani mothers in her English-language projects as she had portrayed them in some TV projects. “It was heartwarming to come together (with Shekhar) for this film.”

One of the leading Pakis­tani actors, Aly said although it was her first experience of an English-language film, it was a dream to work with legends like Mr Kapur and Ms Azmi. She hoped for more collaboration between India and Pakistan and artistes from both countries working in each other’s films.

Opening ceremony

The festival opened on Thursday night with a red carpet and opening ceremony, participated by a number of stars from across the world, including Shahrukh Khan, Sharon Stone, Priyanka Chopra and A.R. Rehman.

In his speech, Mr Khan said: “The theme of the festival is ‘Film is Everything’. It’s culture, opportunity, art and achievement, but for me and for all of us here, film is life. It affirms the essence of being alive. Film is the language in which the modern world converses, it’s the new idiom of literature through which the stories are exchanged in an overwhelming visual and virtual world. Film is a unifier because it transits human experiences across cultures. Cinema celebrates diversity and teaches people not to be afraid of the differences as it can help them understand each other.”

The Bollywood icon described the celebration and promotion of films and filmmaking in Saudi Arabia as a big leap forward.

Mohamed Al Turki, the CEO of the festival, also spoke on the occasion.

Khan, Hollywood director Guy Ritchie and Egyptian actress Yousra received the Gold Yusr Honorary Award at the ceremony.

The next few days would see stars like Jackie Chan, Antonio Banderas, Ranbir Ka­­­­poor, Saif Ali Khan, Ka­­r­e­ena Kapoor and Akshay Ku­­mar attending the festival.

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2022

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