'I love Jemima Khan's arranged marriage movie - and my Essex boy hubby does too'



Love is in the air… but in her new movie, screenwriter Jemima Khan asks What’s Love Got To Do With It? as she explores a subject very close to my heart: arranged marriages.

My parents’ nuptials were arranged in Kashmir in the 1960s. When my mum told me her relatives chose my dad because of his family’s reputation – and that she only met him on her wedding day – I was horrified.

But that was way back. Arranged marriages have evolved and are more sophisticated now. They are not just confined to South Asian culture, either. They have even been a tradition within our own Royal Family.

Love had nothing to do with my parents’ union, but they became a great team. As I grew up, I saw their love for each other as they raised their family together.

Lily James and Shazad Latif in What's Love Got To Do With It?
Lily James and Shazad Latif in What's Love Got To Do With It?

But if I ever heard the words “arranged marriage”, I would die of embarrassment. Because they would always be talked about in a negative way and were often confused with forced marriages – which many Asian people vehemently oppose.

My parents did try to arrange a marriage for me. They kept inviting me back from university to meet various families. But they never forced me and I even felt sorry for them when I said “No way!” to everyone I was introduced to. And, to be fair, a lot of the families took one look at me and ran for the hills. I was far too “feisty”.

As a British Asian with Pakistani roots, I sometimes felt I should bury my heritage and adopt more British culture to show I was “integrating”. But it just made me more confused about my own identity.

That’s why I welcome films like What’s Love Got To Do With It? They help educate the public about minority cultures and make stories relatable through comedy. They also tell people to stop feeling ashamed of their heritage.

In Jemima’s film, A-listers like Emma Thompson and Lily James try to speak a bit of Urdu, wear traditional clothes and live with a Pakistani family.

And it gave me immense joy to see issues from my upbringing being aired for others to learn from, and even relate to. I mean, whether you’re Asian or not, how many parents have met a nice family and thought, “Oh, they’d be lovely for my son or daughter”.

Well, that’s not that far from how arranged marriages start.

I love this film because I can see my own family in it. The hilarious generational divide between the grandma and grandson is something I see at home.

My white, Essex boy husband laughed at the cultural differences and the faux pas he experienced back when he married me. And our children could relate to both sides.

This film shows British Asians have moved with the times without losing their traditions. And how, when it comes to love, we all experience the same ups and downs.

What’s Love Got To Do With It? is out on February 24

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