Variety can exclusively reveal the first look of top Pakistani star Sajal Aly from keenly anticipated rom-com “What’s Love Got to Do with It?,” which will have its world premiere at the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival.
Directed by veteran Indian filmmaker Shekhar Kapur (“Elizabeth”), “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” follows documentary-maker and dating app addict Zoe (Lily James), for whom swiping right has only delivered an endless stream of Mr Wrongs, to her eccentric mother Cath’s (Emma Thompson) dismay. For Zoe’s childhood friend and neighbor 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 Kaz’s 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.
The cast also includes Shabana Azmi (“Halo”), Asim Chaudhry (“People Just Do Nothing”), Mim Shaikh (“Freehold”), Jeff Mirza (“Eternals”), Iman Boujelouah (“Kal & Cambridge), Mariam Haque (“Finding Alice”) and Sindhu Vee (“Starstruck). The film is written and co-produced by Jemima Khan (“The Case Against Adnan Syed”) and her Instinct Productions. She was married to former cricketer Imran Khan, who was until recently the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Producers also include Nicky Kentish Barnes (“About Time”) and Working Title Films’ Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner.
Aly plays the pivotal character of Maymouna. “I love to play characters that have depth and define the narrative of a project and I think I am very fortunate that my character Maymouna in my international English-language debut ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It?’ has also given me the same opportunity,” Aly told Variety.
Aly, who is known for “Dhoop Ki Deewar and “Alif,” received glowing reviews for her last two projects “Sinf-E-Ahaan” and “Ishq-E-Laa,” which were both hits. The actor has gathered a large following outside Pakistan, in the Middle East and in India where her powerful performance alongside late Bollywood legend Sridevi won much acclaim.
Executive producers on “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” include Ron Halpern, Anna Marsh, Joe Naftalin, Sarmad Masud, Sarah Harvey, Lucas Webb and Katherine Pomfret.
Ivor Novello Lifetime Achievement Award-winning and Mercury Prize nominated composer, Nitin Sawhney has created the music for the film, with British-Pakistani record producer, DJ, songwriter, and musician Naughty Boy adding his skills to the soundtrack, alongside three-time BRIT Award and Mercury Prize nominee, Joy Crookes. Kanika Kapoor and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan will also feature on the soundtrack, with Khan also appearing in the film.
Studiocanal is fully financing and will release in its own territories — U.K., France, Germany and Australia and New Zealand — and is selling the film worldwide. The film will be released in U.K. cinemas on Jan. 27, 2023.
Aly is exclusively represented by Hamid Hussain and Muhammad Yaqoob from Action Consultancy.