Cast: Arjun Kapoor, Parineeti Chopra
Director: Vipul Amrutlal Shah
The film must not have looked this bad on paper as it has everything — two recognisable leads, a franchise with good recall value, a director who has made films such as Aankhen, Waqt and Namaste London, and a story that could find some resonance with the ongoing women empowerment movements. But it all has resulted in a shoddy tale enacted by clueless actors, a highly sexist understanding of the Indian diaspora in London and brazenly forced songs.
The simplicity of Akshay Kumar’s character, which floored the audiences in Namastey London (2007) is totally missing in this film. Here, Param (Arjun Kapoor) wants to force-feed us that he is the simplest guy around despite illegally entering Europe and establishing a fake relationship with his wife’s friend. Well, we can give him the benefit of doubt, but what happens next is beyond comprehension.
The wife, Jasmeet (Parineeti Chopra), launches an attack on Param’s female friend by slut shaming her in the weirdest way possible. Sample this: Isko baithne bolo toh ye let jaati hai (If you ask her to sit, she lies down). This might have been acceptable in 1980s but feels beyond pathetic in the era of #MeToo and Time’s Up.
The writers can believe that the characters might be belonging to a space where such tirades are a norm, it’s a filmmaker’s conscious choice to present his actors in a certain way. After all, it’s all about equilibrium between cinema and the society. Isn’t what Bollywood believes in, at least in their promotional interviews?
The rehashed formula that is Namaste London, has nothing going for it. It’s the same story of a woman about to get married to a London-based guy only to realise at the last moment that she should also think about her country’s pride after a monologue by the ‘desi’ charmer at a party. Been there, done that. Even if you’re planning to repeat it, write a better scene and not the one where a seemingly drunk woman announces the hero’s presence by saying, “Now that’s what I call a ‘desi’ hunk,” or something similar. Why would anyone take this scene seriously?
The audacity of the makers doesn’t stop just there. They have also devised a scene where Arjun Kapoor compares himself to Shah Rukh Khan and enlightens us on how Shah Rukh is only playing a role on the screen and not in his real life. Really?
Parineeti Chopra wants to pursue jewellery designing but is struggling with the designing of the screenplay. It’s not just her, most of the actors appear disconnected with the set-up. They never look beyond the green fields, bhangara and tractors of Punjab.
In between, there are lectures about not leaving the country for greed and how in 50 years, we will be the most powerful state and so on.
There is a grandfather who wants to uphold the societal norm of not letting the girl work even after her marriage, a friend who makes weird sound after every sentence and an Arjun Kapoor who wouldn’t give you a heads up before breaking into a dance. None of these people are convincing and after a while you want the girl to go abroad and work, so as to be saved from this master-class in overacting. I am a reviewer, so there wasn’t a way out. I survived and that’s my win.
At 141-minute duration, Namaste England goes nowhere and seems like that odd star in the space which all your childhood friends talked about but nobody could see and locate. You still don’t know if it was even there or not.
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