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Shekhar Kapur's What's Love Got To Do With It Opens Red Sea Film Festival Enriched by Bollywood Magic

By: Gautaman Bhaskaran

Edited By: Bohni Bandyopadhyay

News18.com

Last Updated: December 02, 2022, 12:13 IST

Jeddah

The Red Sea International Film Festival had a star-studded opening with Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra among attendees.

The Red Sea International Film Festival had a star-studded opening with Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra among attendees.

Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Kajol, AR Rahman, Shabana Azmi, Frieda Pinto were among Indian celebrities who graced the opening of the Red Sea International Film Festival.

The second edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival opened last evening (Thursday) at Jeddah in Saudi Arabia with dozens of stars from the Arab world and Bollywood in full force. The Covid pandemic, which had shaken the world and disrupted many movie festivals, seemed like a distant memory when I watched an extravaganza that was dazzling, to say the least.

But the day clearly belonged to Bollywood with several Mumbai stars here, including Shah Rukh Khan, who received an excellence award, along with American auteur, Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes being the most popular in his basket) and Yusra from Egypt. Celebrities such as Priyanka Chopra, Kajol, AR Rahman, Shabana Azmi, Frieda Pinto, Gurinder Chadha and Sharon Stone along with several luminaries from the region like Nadine Labaki, Kaouther Ben Hania, Haifaa Al Mansour, George Khabbaz and Soudade Kaadane were seen.

And not to forget Shekhar Kapur, whose film, What’s Love Got To Do With it, opening the 10-day event that runs until December 10 in this historic city on the eastern shores of the Red Sea.

A rather outdated plot of arranged vs love marriage that straddles two continents – Europe and Asia – the movie was headlined by Lily James, Shazad Latif, Emma Thompson, Shabana Azmi and Pakistani actress Sajal Aly. Sadly, it was a tame affair from a helmer who had given us classics such as Bandit Queen, Masoom and Elizebeth.

But I must admit, he had wrested an excellent performance from Emma Thomson ( a journalist friend quipped “ imagine making her do all that she did”) and Lily James – who has a string of outstanding roles to her credit (The Dig, Rebecca, Pride and Prejudice and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society), who sparkled as a woman disheartened and distraught at seeing her childhood friend falling for an “ assisted” match in Lahore.

Introducing the movie, Kapur mentioned the need for greater MENA (Middle East North Africa) prominence on the international stage. “I wish the Festival huge success,” he said. “The winds need to change. For too long, the winds have come from the West to the East. Somewhere in the desert sands of this nation, the winds need to rise again.”

Earlier, the president of the international jury, Oliver Stone, in a word of praise for Saudi Arabia said: “The country is much misunderstood in the present world – people who have judged too harshly should come and visit to see for themselves”. He also noted “changes” and “reforms” that he feels are making it the nation a more hospitable place to visit.

Commenting on the Festival’s 15-title Competition, the American director felt that they had a streak of Italian neo-realism running through them. “These films stick to very basic ideas of survival, migration, suffering. There’s a real spirit here which is growing.”

With a brilliant theme, “Film Is Everything”, the Festival is all set to celebrate with 131 features from 61 countries and in 41 languages. Wow, that is quite an impressive record for a country which had banned entertainment for decades. It was only in 2017 that Saudi Arabia opened its doors to cinema. And it has been real quick progress!

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first published:December 02, 2022, 12:13 IST
last updated:December 02, 2022, 12:13 IST
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