In a wide ranging interview to the Evening Standard on Wednesday, Jemima Khan, the former wife of prime minister Imran Khan, discussed how she found her creative path in writing and producing documentaries, TV shows and a movie. She also spoke about her marriage and the lessons she learned from her time spent in Pakistan.
Khan was talking to Gavanndra Hodge in a rare interview about her creative pursuits which came to her after her divorce and pursuit of a Masters from SOAS, aged 30. She started first as editor at large at Vanity Fair before becoming a columnist at New Statesman before she ventured into documentary film-making five years ago.
Her friendship with Monica Lewinsky, the woman at the heart of an impeachment of then US president Bill Clinton with whom she had an affair when she was a young intern, was first the subject of a documentary Khan produced before making it into a TV serial Impeachment which is currently airing in the US.
Khan spoke at length about working with Lewinsky on the documentary and how it made her realize aspects of her life.
“During the interviews she was describing the FBI sting, and I suddenly realised that the same year, in Pakistan, I’d had to leave the country because I’d also been threatened with jail on politically trumped up charges. I’d been accused of smuggling antiques, one of the few non-bailable offences in Pakistan. I realised there were parallels, marrying an older, politically powerful man and being used to undermine him," Khan said.
Khan also spoke about spending 10 years writing the script for the film, What’s Love Got To Do With It, which is she also producing. The paper describes the film as one about a commitment-phobic English film-maker in her thirties "who travels to Lahore to document the arranged marriage of a British Pakistani man and finds her own views on love challenged."
Khan spoke about her marriage to Imran, reflecting on how young she was when she married.
“It is not a normal decision, aged 21, with all the freedoms and privileges that we grew up with, to essentially give those up, to go and live in an extremely black and white culture and adopt a black and white way of life and doctrine, with a man who was twice my age and a born again Muslim,” she said.
“At that point in my life I found some reassurance in the prescriptiveness of that culture, that religion, that man...It was seen as this great amorous adventure and I am not sure that was the whole story. I would say, in retrospect, that moral certainty might have been more of a driving factor…,"she continued.
“But after ten years, what had felt reassuring — deferring to other people and not having to come up with solutions myself — began to feel like a loss of autonomy. As you get older you realise that you have the capacity to find some of the answers in yourself.”
Khan then reflects on how living in Pakistan and seeing another perspective on arranged marriages helped her change her mind on the subject, on some of its practical aspects.
The profile states that Khan is currently single, her boys are away at university and working and she lives between West London and Oxfordshire with Tyrian White, 29, the "(unacknowledged) daugther or Imran Khan and Sita White."