Interview by Paul Salfen
WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT? will be available for digital rental and purchase on all major platforms on May 26, 2023.
How do you find lasting love in today’s world? For documentary-maker and dating app addict Zoe (Lily James), swiping right has only delivered an endless stream of Mr W rongs, to her eccentric mother Cath’s (Emma Thompson) dismay. For Zoe’s childhood friend and neighbour Kaz (Shazad Latif), the answer is to follow his parents’ example and opt for an arranged (or “assisted”) marriage to a bright and beautiful bride from Pakistan. As Zoe films his hopeful journey from London to Lahore to marry a stranger, chosen by his parents, she begins to wonder if she might have something to learn from a profoundly different approach to finding love.
Shazad Latif, who plays Kaz, was one of the first actors to be signed up three years ago. “When the audition came up, I was like: ‘That’s crazy!’ A film by Jemima Khan? My mum used to keep a little scrapbook of Jemima, she was pretty obsessed with her because my Mum was British, married to a Pakistani man, so she had a scrapbook of Jemima. So I knew this was one of those moments: I have to get this.”
For months, Latif would be on daily Skype calls with his director. “We spent like two months where he would just call me, and he’d just talk. And I was like, ‘What’s going on here? We’re just talking. We’re not even rehearsing.’ And then suddenly, it clicked: he was just trying to find the character, you know, unravel him and get the feeling of it and it’s just such a lovely way of working when you have that time to do that because normally you don’t… Shekhar’s one of the great filmmakers, so getting a chance to explore that with him? Of course.”
As the production geared up, one of Latif’s closest friends – Lily James – became involved with the project. “Jemima’s done an amazing job at creating something so funny and full of heart in that very brilliant romantic comedy genre,” says James, who plays Zoe, “but also it’s about something interesting
that’s culturally more exciting. And Shazad is one of my closest friends. I have been friends with him for the last ten years, so when I got the email and it said Shazad is playing Kaz, it was during the first lockdown and I was like, ‘O K , I definitely want to do it, then!’”