Indo-American News: May 12, 2023

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Asia Society Texas Hosts ‘Incredible India’ Cultural Performances

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, mAy 12, 2023 • Indo American News 2470 Dairy Ashford, Houston, TX 77077 • 713.789.NEWS (6397) • Special Reports Community Briefs Local Politics South Asians in the News Published weekly from Houston, TX W E D D I N G S , S P E C I A L E V E N T S , T E N T E D E V E N T S , O U T D O O R C O U R T Y A R D 3 3 3 0 F M 1 4 6 3 | K a t y , T X 7 7 4 9 4 | 8 3 2 . 8 5 5 . 5 5 2 0 | p a l m r o y a l v i l l a . c o m Friday, May 12, 2023 | Vol. 42, No. 19 $1 Shekhar Kapur’s Rom-Com P5
P11 India’s Consul General Aseem Mahajan
the Rhythm India dance group. The ‘Incredible India’ performance featured
Bharat Natyam dance
the Anjali School of Performing Arts and Bollywood dances by Rhythm India. A
of local Indian families. See article on Page 2 A Tribute to Homi Davier
poses with
performed by
fashion show featured

Asia Society Hosts ‘Incredible India’ Cultural Performances, Fashion Show

Houston: Celebrating three generations of fashion, dance, and food, the Incredible India presentation was a collaboration between Asia Society Texas and the Indian Consulate in Houston.

The presentation was emceed by KHOU TV anchor Rekha Muddaraj. The leadership team behind the 75th anniversary of India’s independence (Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav) included Annu Rao Naik and Asha Pai Dhume.

A reception following the stage presentation included Indian delicacies catered by Dawat Catering.

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, mAy 12, 2023 • May 12, 2023 2
Young Rhythm India performers dancing the award-winning Naatu, Naatu dance. Three generations of the Pasrija family. Three generations of the Malani family. Incredible India fashion show featured 2nd and 3rd generation of local Indo Americans.


Pak SC Terms Imran’s Arrest ‘Unlawful’, Directs Him to Appear before IHC

Islamabad: The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday termed PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s arrest in the Al-Qadir Trust case “unlawful” and directed him to appear before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) tomorrow (Friday).

The top court said that the PTI chief would be kept at the Police Lines Guest House but would not be considered a prisoner, and directed the Islamabad police chief to ensure the ex-premier’s security.

“Imran Khan will stay at the guest house as a guest [and] his protection would be the government’s responsibility,” Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial said.

The orders were issued as a three-judge bench comprising the CJP, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Athar Minallah resumed hearing Imran’s plea against his arrest. Earlier in the day, the court had directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to present Imran before the court.

Subsequently, the PTI chief was presented in court amid tight security a little after 5:45pm. A Dawn. com correspondent present at the scene said that the former prime minister was taken inside the SC via the judges’ gate.

Imran asks supporters to remain peaceful

After the SC passed the order, Imran, while still in the court, said that no harm should be caused to the country and asked his supporters to remain peaceful.

“We only want elections in the country,” he maintained.

The PTI chief stated that he was told by his lawyers a day earlier that “there is anarchy in the country” and asserted: “We don’t want anarchy in the country.”

He further said that people approached the court for justice, but contended that he was instead hit with batons. “Even murderers are not treated this way,” Imran stated.

The ex-premier went on to say that he was unaware of what was happening in the country. “I was caught as if I am a terrorist,” he decried and asked, “How am I responsible for the protests?”

The hearing

When the hearing resumed, after Imran’s arrival, the CJP called the PTI chairman to the rostrum and said: “Happy to see you.”

“There have been incidents of violence after your arrest,” Justice Bandial said, stating that the court wanted peace in the country. “It is being said that your [PTI] workers came out in rage,” he said and told Imran that the court wanted to hear him.

The top judge observed that the PTI chief was present in the IHC’s biometric courtroom on May 9. “When a person comes to the court of law, it means that he surrenders before the court.”

The CJP said: “Twenty-three million people are waiting for the

leader to sail this ship forward. You help with moving this ship forward.”

“According to the Constitution, a person serving the nation is ameen (honest),” he remarked. “Your rival may not seem to be right, but they are a reality.”

The CJP asked that he expected the other party to play its role as well, stressing that “we are sure that you want the rule of law”. Justice Bandial also said that he was threatened and told to “wait for an attack” on him.

Subsequently, the court ruled that Imran’s arrest was “illegal” and directed the PTI chief to approach the IHC. “You will have to accept the high court’s decision,” the top judge said, reiterating that Imran had to appear before IHC tomorrow (Friday).

Justice Mazhar said that the would direct the high court to fix a hearing for 11am tomorrow, while the CJP stated that Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan would be the guarantor for security.

At that, the AGP said that he was told the Islamabad Police Lines had been declared a sub-jail.

“Is he staying there in a bungalow or guest house?” Justice Mazhar asked, to which Islamabad IG replied that Imran had been kept at a guest house.

“Are lawyers and others allowed to meet him?” Justice Bandial asked. The IG replied that he was unaware of that and only NAB could respond to that.

Here, the CJP stated that these matters would be decided by the court now and then asked Imran to provide a list of people he wanted to meet. “If someone wants to stay the night, we will give them permission.

“Ten people will stay with you … spend time with them and go to sleep,” he added.

At one point, Imran appealed to the court to let him stay at his Banigala residence in Islamabad but the CJP told him that he was under the court’s supervision.

“We don’t want you to be harmed,” Justice Bandial said, reiterating his directives for the government to ensure all the needed security arrangements for Imran.

“The case will resume from where the matters became complicated,” the top judge remarked, adding that a written order will be issued soon.

At the outset of the hearing — which commenced a little after 2pm — one of Imran’s counsels, Hamid Khan, came to the rostrum and informed the apex court that his client had approached the Islamabad High Court (IHC) for pre-arrest bail.

His lawyer said that Imran was in the process of getting his biometrics done when he was arrested. “Rangers misbehaved with Imran Khan and arrested him,” the lawyer said.

CJP Bandial observed that court records showed that the case had not been fixed for hearing. The lawyer told the court that the appeal could not be filed without completing the biometric process. Here, Justice Minallah observed that Imran had indeed entered the court premises. “How can anyone be denied the right to justice?” he asked.

CJP Bandial said that there was a certain “respect” for the courts. Recalling a past incident, he said, “NAB had arrested a suspect from the Supreme Court’s parking [lot]. The court had then reversed the arrest.”

Imran’s lawyer then demanded that his client be released from NAB custody, stating that the arrest was made without an investigation officer present. -- Dawn

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, mAy 12, 2023 • May 12, 2023 3
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OBITUARY A Pillar of the Zoroastrian Community, Homi Davier, Passes On

Houston: To say that he knew the many facets of the travel business was an understatement. When all else failed, or you needed a last minute itinerary to get your visa or passport, you knew Homi could get it to you, no questions asked. And he could hold that reservation for you miraculously for days, without fussing at the constant changes.

Homi Davier, who was also known as Homi Davierwala, passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack in his Sugar Land home, on Sunday, May 7 at 6 pm. He was 74, just a week shy of his 75th birthday.

Homi Davier was born on May 14, 1948 to Hilla and Manchershaw Davierwala in Bombay, India. Homi met Nergish Kurva at the age of 15 when they both attended the same after-school tuitions class. Their romance blossomed and they were married in 1974.

In his youth, Homi pursued his passion for aviation by training as a pilot and this served as the catalyst to beginning his career in travel. When he received an offer to work with a new division of Gulf Airlines, the couple moved to Oman, Muscat where they welcomed their only child, daughter Jenisteen in 1978.

In 1980 the family relocated to Houston, as Homi transitioned from working with an airline to joining a local travel agency,

Everest Travel, run by friends from his days in Muscat, Krishnan and Lakshmann. A few years later he started his own travel agency, Capricorn Travel & Tours, named

after his daughter’s birth sign. His clients became lifelong friends because he didn’t just book tickets, he arranged adventures, accompanied them on expeditions and his

joy for travel imbued a sense of delight in each person’s trip.

In 1991, after Latavia gained its independence from the Soviet Union, Homi led a group of American investors to take on a managing share of the nation’s planned new airline, Baltic International Airlines, and turn the country into a hub for travel in Eastern Europe. The venture ended a couple of years later and the airline eventually was sold to SAS.

Shortly after moving to Houston Homi and his family joined the Zoroastrian Association of Houston which became a defining moment and led to his passion for serving and helping grow the young and newly formed community. During his years in ZAH he served on multiple committees and was the co-founder for the World Zoroas-

trian Chamber of Commerce.

He co-chaired the 7th World Zoroastrian Congress in 2000 which resulted in his becoming a cofounder of the Congress Legacy Project which grants annual scholarships to local youth members. His parting gift to the community he loved so dearly was the 2023 Zoroastrian Directory which he was able to gather more than $25,000 in advertisements that benefit the center. He took immense pride in being a part of ZAH and was always thinking, talking and dreaming of more ideas on how to build an even stronger community.

Despite several health issues that sidelined him for awhile, Homi was an optimist and towards the later part of his career, he joined New York Life as a financial adviser though he still also offered travel services through his company Xpert Tours.

During this time he revived an old passion of his, art and painting. Homi came from a family of artists and was excited to have this be a part of his life again. He was a contemporary artist that created vibrant oils with joyful bursts of coloring. He participated in and won awards at several exhibitions across Ft. Bend county.

In addition to his wife Nergish and daughter Jenisteen, he is survived by his sister-in-law Pervin and her husband Maneck who presided as a priest at his funeral, and sisters in Mumbai, Kashmira and Binaifer. -- edIted by JawaHar malHotra

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NBA Kings’ Vivek Ranadive Bidding for Ottawa’s NHL Franchise

ottawa: Vivek Ranadive, the Indian American owner of North American professional basketball league, National Basketball Association (NBA), franchise Sacramento Kings, has now emerged one of the seven finalists bidding to buy the National Hockey League (NHL) franchise Ottawa Senators, according to several sports news outlets in the US. NHL is a professional ice hockey league in North America. According to sources, bids for Ottawa Senators are expected to fetch more than $800 million and could even hit $1 billion, making it the highest price ever paid for an NHL franchise. Final bids are due on May 15.

The Remington Group — which includes Canadian actor and Wrexham AFC co-owner Ryan Reynolds — is reportedly also among the finalists for Senators. A stipulation for a potential Senators sale is that the team remains in Ottawa in Canada. The team was put up for sale following the death passing of owner Eugene Melnyk

in March 2022. Canada’s Ottawa Sun newspaper has also named Ottawa-based Indian Canadian Neil Malhotra, an urban planner and developer who oversees retirement home operator Claridge Homes, among others, as a potential bidder for Senators.

Ranadive is the first Indian American to own an NBA franchise and the founder of Silicon Valley based IT company TIBCO Software. He had bought Sacramento Kings in 2013 along with a group of investors, for $534 million, a record for an NBA team sale at the time after selling his share in Golden State Warriors another NBA team, of which he was the co-owner and vice chairman since 2010. The Kings is now reportedly worth more than $2 billion. Ranadivé also holds a majority stake in the Sacramento River Cats, a minor league baseball team.

While Indian Americans have been very successful entrepreneurs in the IT sector in the US, Ranadive was the first and only

Vivek Ramaswamy’s Surprising Surge

new york: Just 10 weeks after launching his campaign, Republican presidential hopeful and former biotech executive Vivek Ramaswamy has risen enough in some polls to match the popularity of well-known candidates such as former vice president Mike Pence and former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley. He’s pulling respectable crowds in early primary states, and he’s reportedly already got some fans who cry out of happiness when they talk about him. While he still poses no threat to former President Donald Trump or Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the surge of interest is still a striking development in an already-packed race. Why are people paying attention to this guy?

Two short profiles in The New York Times and Politico this week focus a great deal on Ramaswamy’s personality and alwayssay-yes attitude toward media interviews as a way of explaining the surge of Republican interest in him. But what these reports overlook in their narratives is that he’s also getting traction because he’s promising to be more extreme

than Trump. Ramaswamy remains a total long shot, but his ability to secure attention is a function of his extremism.

Politico’s report discusses how Ramaswamy “blends the youthfulness and hustle of Pete Buttigieg’s run in 2020 with the extremely online nature of Andrew Yang’s millennial fan base,” and notes how “he’ll say ‘yes’ to almost any interview request — no matter the outlet.” The New York Times explains that “confidence is Mr. Ramaswamy’s gift,” that this “smooth-talking” can be “infectious.”

These accounts are not wrong, but they don’t tell the whole story.

Ramaswamy has correctly identified the power of intense retail politics and media overexposure as a tactic for building a narrative, and, like Yang, he likely profits from being very online. But there’s an essential ingredient to why the matters are paying off: Ramaswamy is affirming the Republican base’s instincts by promising to succeed where Trump failed to deliver and perfect MAGA politics.


person of Indian origin to take a leadership role as a sports entrepreneur. “But things are changing. I see a great deal of interest in sports among young Indian-Americans. Basketball is a global sport and anyone – no matter where you are from or what language you speak – can participate. I am honoured to be considered a pioneer in this community and I hope my experience inspires other people of Indian origin to become involved in the game,” Ranadive, chairman, CEO and governor of the Sacramento Kings, had told this reporter in an exclusive interview in 2019. -- Times of India

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, mAy 12, 2023 • May 12, 2023 7

President Biden to Host PM Modi in June

wasHIngton dC: President Biden will welcome India’s prime minister to the White House for a state visit and lavish dinner next month, offering a highly valued diplomatic perk to a critical economic ally.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet with Mr. Biden on June 22, according to a White House statement on Wednesday. It will be the president’s third state dinner, after hosting the leaders of

France and South Korea. Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said the visit would celebrate “the warm bonds of family and friendship that link Americans and Indians together.”

For Mr. Biden, the visit is an opportunity to draw India even closer on economic and security cooperation, especially when it comes to countering China’s growing influence over the global marketplace. But the visit will also test one

of Mr. Biden’s favorite observations: that the world is at an inflection point where countries must choose between autocracy and democracy.

Mr. Modi, the leader of the globe’s most populous democracy, has been steadily pushing his country toward what is effectively one-party rule, consolidating political power by sidelining his rivals and bending the judicial system to his will. -- NY

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IAPAC Launches Conversations Over Coffee with FBISD Candidates

Houston: The Indian American Political Action Committee of Greater Houston (IAPAC) launched a new breakfast/coffee series called Conversations Ove Coffee (CoC@IAPAC) on April 30, 2023 at BlendIn Coffee Club in Sugar Land. The purpose of this series is to promote community engagement with elected officials, candidates running for office, and community leaders to address issues of concern. These events will take place at various locations throughout the Greater Houston area to encourage participation and increase awareness of local, state, and federal elections, ultimately aiming to boost voter turnout.

The first event of the series featured candidates running for Fort Bend Independent School District (FBISD) trustee positions, with five out of nine candidates attending (Angie Hanan - Position 1, Oscar Saenz - Position 1, Shirley Rose-Gilliam - Position 4, Rolly U. DeMeza - Position 5, Allison Drew - Position 5). Dr. Purusottam Sahoo, who serves as the Director of IAPAC, moderated

the conversation. Each candidate shared their vision for FBISD and highlighted their backgrounds, experience, and qualifications for the role, representing a diverse range of perspectives reflective of Fort Bend County residents and showcased the importance of having varied perspectives in decision-making positions.

The event included an intense Q&A session, during which local Fort Bend residents posed questions about special education and the three propositions for the bond projects of $1.3 billion. This amount is comparable to the $900 million approved in 2018, adjusted for inflation. The candidates took note of the issues of concern to the Fort Bend residents, highlighting the importance of local issues in the minds of the community. The need for more transparency and better communication was expressed by the residents. Notably, Bharat Patel, one of the community leaders, advocated for an itemized budget for the three propositions. It was encouraging to see community members taking an active interest in local elections

andengaging with candidates to make informed decisions.

The launch of CoC@IAPAC underscores the importance of promoting community engagement and increasing voter turnout. According to recent statistics, only 37% of registered voters in the Greater Houston area turned out to vote in the 2020 presidential election. By providing opportunities for community members to engage with candidates and elected officials, CoC@IAPAC aims to encourage more community members to participate in elections.

The upcoming election day for the Fort Bend Independent School District (FBISD) school board is May 6, 2023. This election will determine the new trustees for the FBISD, and the outcome will have a significant impact on the district’s policies and direction. It is essential for eligible voters in the district to exercise their right to vote and have a say in the future of the education system in their community.

Roopa Gir, the President of

IAPAC, expressed her satisfaction with the successful launch of Conversations Over Coffee (CoC@ IAPAC) and the positive feedback received from both community members and participating candidates. The event provided an op-

portunity for Fort Bend residents to engage with the candidates in an informal setting, showcasing the potential impact of community-led initiatives in promoting civic engagement and increasing voter turnout.

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, mAy 12, 2023 • May 12, 2023 9 For Advertising in Indo-American News call Jawahar Malhotra @ 713-789-6397
From Left: Gaurav Jhaveri, Sridhar Srinivasan, Bharat Patel, Trustee Angie Hanan, Trustee Allison Drew, Candidate for FBISD Board Oscar Saenz, Roopa Gir, Purusottam Sahoo, Parvin Shaikh, Namrita Perubhatla, Laurie Sahoo, Shila Eleswarapu, Jim Drew. Trustee Angie Hanan (left), Trustee Shirley Rose-Gilliam, Candidates for FBISD Board Oscar Saenz and Rolly U. DeMeza

Commentary on the Central Issue of the Movie: ‘The Kerala Story’

The central issue of the movie, The Kerala Story, is religious conversion of Hindus and Christians to Islam — a subject few wanted to talk about. Though the Islamic preachers and narrative makers never hid their intention, their liberal-secular patrons would neither talk about it nor let others do the talking. They have a vested interest in Muslim communalism, and are happy with the electoral gains accruing from Islamic radicalism. Thus, devoid of the integrity to acknowledge the disturbing reality, they also lack the tools to analyse the phenomenon.

Expectedly, the movie has stirred a hornet’s nest. Exposé of an open secret always does that.

The main objection raised against The Kerala Story has been the now-retracted figure of 32,000 conversions of girls in the state to supply soldiers for ISIS. The film producers now mention three girls who converted and went to fight for ISIS. However, beyond this quibbling over numbers, there have been no serious imputation of falsehood. The core content of the movie has a kernel of truth and is not being disputed. There is no accusation of peddling falsehood. Instead, some are questioning the motives behind telling this truth. It’s a politically inconvenient movie that brings to light the topic of religious conversion and its consequences.

There is no denying the fact that conversions happened in Kerala — of girls too! And, neo-converts, even girls, were sent abroad on jihadi missions to fight for ISIS. Women were not recruited in these missions for combat roles. Jihadi men needed comfort girls, and these women were jihad-prostitutes. We learnt about the story when some of them, incarcerated in Taliban’s jails in Afghanistan, begged the Indian government to bring them home.

The point to ponder is, when this news broke, what was the reaction of the Muslim community and the liberal-secular intelligentsia? Were they shocked with disbelief or just embarrassed about the revelation? Did they dismiss it as a freak incident or knowing it to be the tip of iceberg tried to retrieve the situation from increasing radicalisation.

Is it a secret that converting a non-Muslim to Islam is considered the greatest of virtues? Could people, even girls, be converted and despatched on jihadi missions without a general acceptance of conversion and jihad in the Muslim society? Did the people react then the way they are doing now at the movie about it? No, they didn’t, and therefore, there is a need to introspect, and understand what is going on.

Why convert?

The underlying concept behind converting people is that one’s

own religion is the only truth, all else is falsehood. Thus, it becomes one’s duty to persuade others to convert to the “true” religion. If persuasion fails, and circumstances allow, the unheeding could be converted by deceit, temptation, or force. Throughout history, most conversions — a supremacist idea — have occurred through force or conquest. With the exception of Southeast Asia, Islam has mainly spread in areas that were conquered by Muslims. While Sufi mystics played a major role in cultivating converts, they could not have succeeded without the protection of the Islamic sword, as they had to reconcile people to the Muslim rule and the ruler’s religion. This was Islam’s version of the “Cross following the Flag.”

The community of converts

Today, the descendants of converts — some 80-90% of Indian Muslims — may regard the conversion of their ancestors as a divine blessing that saved successive generations from hellfire and ensured eternal paradise. However, the process through which this blessing was obtained is also a fact of history. If the story were to be told, it could severely undermine the basis of identity politics. Communal consciousness is shaped by suppressing memory and obfuscating history.

History of conversion

In India, the issue of conversion will remain contentious because, historically, it has been a corollary of conquest. Whether through persuasion, temptation, or compulsion, both the conqueror and the conquered viewed it as an insult added to injury. The consequences of these conversions are still present in the form of ever-increasing religious radicalisation and separatist politics, even 75 years after the Partition.

Politics of conversion

Now that the age of Islamic con-

quest is over, and wholesale conversion is no longer feasible, there has been a shift in strategy — to Dawah, i.e., preaching and proselytising. Earlier, groups converted, now individuals do. Sometimes, girls in love convert too. Such conversion is seen as poaching by the community that loses a member. No one remains in doubt about its political meaning. A religious conversion in India is not only about changes in one’s conception of the divine, vocabulary of prayer and ritual of worship. More than anything else, it is a change of community; switching of loyalty from one to another. For the Muslim, a conversion is a validation of his religion’s truth and is celebrated as a communal conquest. Correspondingly, every such conversion makes the Hindu seethe at the unending series of defeat and humiliation. Such contrast in emotions on two sides is inevitable in a situation where communities are seen as historical antagonists, competing with each other for the supremacy of their respective religions.

Conversion from Islam Islamic jurisprudence is the best guide to understand the political import of religious conversion. According to it, a Muslim’s conversion to another religion is an act of apostasy, which renders him liable to death. The rea-

soning behind it is that a change of religion is not merely a change of one’s personal faith. It is tantamount to treason to the Islamic state, and is as grave a matter as a soldier’s desertion to the enemy camp. In this worldview, religions are political ideologies, and faith communities are warring armies. Therefore, the campaign to convert is prosecution of war by another means. A new convert to Islam is a victory for the religion that the community celebrates. But the rare conversion of a Muslim to another religion is high treason that Muslims can’t take in their stride, and for which the prescribed punishment is execution. In an ideological framework where a new convert is actually a newly recruited soldier, the pro-

gression from conversion to military jihad is natural. Ethics of pluralism

A pluralist and secular society cannot allow one community to have such designs on the other. A minority community, particularly, can’t afford such continued incursions into the majority, as it may incite a reaction leading to reverse conversion.

After the Prophet, the Muslims didn’t remain a faith group. They became a religion-based ethnicity. Therefore, seeking to convert non-Muslims to Islam is as ridiculous as converting Indians into Arabs. It creates confusion of identity, which leads to extreme fanaticism.

In a pluralist society like India’s, the Muslims would do better to recognise that all religions are equally true. If they can’t bring themselves to it, they should, at least, recognise that to the people of other faiths, their religion is as true as Islam is to a Muslim. And so, trying to convert others is as unacceptable as changing someone’s gender or skin colour.

It’s time that, in their own interest, Muslims renounced the medieval ideal of conquest and conversion. If they didn’t, this fantasy could turn into a nightmare.

“Don’t do unto others what you don’t want done unto you” is a maxim everyone should remember. -- The Print

Ibn Khaldun Bharati is a student of Islam, and looks at Islamic history from an Indian perspective. He tweets at @IbnKhaldunIndic. Views are personal.

Indo-AmerIcAn news • FrIdAy, mAy 12, 2023 • May 12, 2023 10 ENTERTAINMENT Y0066_23SPRJ55188_C Local help with your Medicare questions. Kaushika Shah Licensed Sales Agent 832-282-3515, TT Y 711

Shekhar Kapur’s ‘What’s Love Got to Do with It?’

“Number 47 and Number 49. A continent between them.” Twice in “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” Kazim Kahn (Shazad Latif) tells his lifelong friend Zoe Stevenson (Lily James) that even though they grew up next door, sharing a treehouse—and a first kiss—the Muslim Pakistani-British and white British worlds are very far apart. That is never clearer than when Kaz tells Zoe he is engaged but does not know yet to whom.

What he means is that he has agreed to the Pakistani custom of “assisted marriage.” It is no longer called “arranged marriage” because it is a hybrid. Kaz’s parents did not meet until the wedding. But in today’s more modern version, the parents are very much involved but the couple does get a chance to spend some time together to determine their compatibility before the ceremony.

Zoe is surprised that her old friend is not hoping for what his culture calls a “love marriage.” She certainly has no interest in the handsome, kind, funny young veterinarian her mother (Emma Thompson, having a blast) wants her to marry. Yet, Zoe has her own conflicts around love, with a history of relationships so short-lived none of them qualifies as likely to stick around long enough to watch an entire TV series together. When she tells fairy tales to her nieces, she switches the ending. In her version, Cinderella breaks glass ceilings instead of losing a glass slipper. And the princess would rather have a cool talking frog than a boring old prince.

Zoe is an accomplished documentary filmmaker (although it’s hard to imagine her making a professional film with one small camera, doing all of her own filming, sound, and editing). Producers have no interest in her proposals for films about tragic topics. She impulsively suggests a documentary about her friend’s progress in finding a bride. The producers perk up and suggest titles like “When Harry Was Forced to Meet Sally” or “My Big Fat Arranged Marriage.” Zoe has a better idea: “Love Contractually.” Kaz reluctantly agrees, and Zoe starts following him with her camera to a meeting with the jovial matchmaker to an awkward mixer to a “love at first Skype” meeting with Maymouna (Sajal Ali), a bride prospect in Lahore, a shy law student, and then to their wedding.

The movie comes from Working Title Films, the studio behind classic rom-coms like “Love Actually,” “Notting Hill,” and “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” and it acknowledges, pays tribute to, and steals a bit from those and some Hollywood favorites as well. Zoe tells the producers she plans to interview couples for context and commentary like the ones in “When Harry Met Sally.” As in that film, those moments are some of the most memorable. This one has familiar beats but appealing performers, better dialogue, and more depth of character than many more formulaic movie romances.

It also benefits from the authenticity brought to the story by director

Place a number in the empty boxes in such a way that each row across, each column down and each 9-box square contains all of the numbers from one to nine.

Shekhar Kapur and first-time screenwriter Jemima Khan. At one point, Zoe’s film is criticized for bringing the “white gaze” to a project about Pakistani culture. That is a sly dig, pointing out just what this movie is not. For those in the audience who, like Zoe, might consider “assisted marriage” as “a medieval chattel swap,” Kapur’s film provides a nuanced view, comparing the 55 percent divorce rate for Western “love marriages” to the 6 percent for “assisted.” The appeal for Kaz, in particular, is understandable. We learn that his family has had no contact with his sister since she married outside their faith and culture. He cannot bear putting them through that again. They speak of “falling into like and walking into love,” and Kaz says, “It’s just a different way of getting there.”

But assisted marriage is not idealized. Kaz and his mother and father each give the matchmaker different priorities, and his mother’s are explicitly colorist. She does not want her son’s bride to be “too dark,” looking for a “wheat” skin color. His father says he should not look for that “click” or spark, but Kaz is hoping the “bespoke 3D halal Tinder” will find him someone he can love.

No one will be surprised by the story’s conclusion. But “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” is so well supported by the lead-up, including

sympathetic treatment of the romantic partners who don’t work out, that it earns a happily-ever-after ending.


After the success of Pathaan, Shah Rukh Khan is all set to take audiences on an action-packed journey with Jawan, directed by ace filmmaker Atlee. One of the most anticipated films of all time, audiences have been eagerly waiting for the entertainer and while it’s all set to release 7th September, the superstar dropped some exclusive scoop on the film –

In his #AskSRK segment on Twitter, Shah Rukh Khan answered some burning questions fans had on the film starting with the film’s release date. When asked why Jawan is slightly delayed, the superstar said, “Takes time and patience to make something worthy for the audience.” Adding that, “Everybody was working without a break and pushing themselves… so a bit relieved that all can do their job with more ease now.”

When asked what he likes most about Jawan, Shah Rukh Khan said, “For me at least it’s a new kind of genre. An Atlee special and the marriage of trying to bring two ways of making films intandem.”

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