Film: Namastey London
Director: Vipul Amrutlal Shah
Cast: Katrina Kaif, Akshay Kumar, Rishi Kapoor, Upen Patel, Javed Shaikh
Frankly, I do not enjoy getting a front row seat to attend a sermon or to hear a moral story; to me, Namastey London was just that.
The film is all glitzy, glossy and a crash course on Indian culture and a fable about holding on to your roots.
Shot primarily in London, it acquaints us with Jasmeet Singh, aka Jazz (Katrina kaif), a thorough English bred ‘lady’ who believes she is English by virtue of holding a UK citizenship and more so, for having been brought up there. It is her English antics that her parents are worried about and so they decide to fetch her an Indian groom to wed.
Bharat Matrimony dot com does wonders and the parents find themselves traveling all over India till they finally reach their own soil (Punjab), where they choose Arjun (Akshay Kumar) as the ideal groom to be. Wicked Miss Jasmeet agrees to get married, but hatches a devious plan to get out of it. Pricey Miss Jasmeet annuls the marriage only to get married to Charlie Brown (Clive Standon), long time lover and now hubby to be… boohoo, poor Arjun. The man in him wishes to win back his bride, so he begins the guilt trips and sermons. I couldn’t have spoilt the story for you because it’s nothing novel. Its like a Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Mitr, Jaan-E-Man packed into one and called Namastey London.
It is not a bad film, but to me as someone who has lived abroad for a wee bit of time and having seen the same it becomes bothersome to watch the same on screen, sans all the realism.
The film is downright commercial, with stereotypical representations of Englishmen as those living in Victorian manors sipping tea while the Indians in England are being discriminated against… blah blah. You have Jazz, the Indian girl living life English, while mummy daddy are worried sick about her. And you have Arjun, the Punjabi boy who is well mannered and has strong morals while Charlie Brown is someone who has loose ones (I mean, think about, it divorced thrice already and now marrying Jazz?). This is precisely why the film will work, the director has made it so obvious that you can’t help but identify with either one of those characters.
Shah has left no stone unturned to make sure that everyone in the NRI audience (particularly the parents) walk out of the theatre thinking ‘so true, kids today, na!’
It is this commercialism that I did not enjoy. Product placements like Bharat matrimony seem hideous (reminding one of the placements of Coke in Taal); similar was the one for Western Union money transfer (honestly, it couldn’t have been louder). These unnecessary product placements in the name of realism actually ruin the narrative.
Also, the film goes the extra mile in driving the message across. The whole patriotic message delivered by Akshay Kumar and translated word for word by Jazz seems like a rip off from the President Kalam’s vision for India speech. Surely worthy of applause, but the prolonged applause has been deserved by many other movies as well.
The film is well balanced in terms of well written dialogues, crisp editing, decent camerawork (The tight close-ups and framing could have been worked upon to make it far more stylistic) and fine performances.
Katrina Kaif looks stunning and fits the bill as the Indian bred English girl, she plays the character with ease. Imran Khan’s (Upen Patel) alternative story could have seriously been avoided as it does nothing for the film, the morals he spouts have already been delivered by Akshay Kumar.
Akshay Kumar as Arjun, besides the fake laughs, does a good job at providing yet another worthy performance. Upen Patel, around whome a parallel storyline is woven, seems forced, does nothing for the film or for the audience either.
If nothing else, Himesh Reshamiya’s music is a clear reason to watch the film. The well picturised song ‘Rafta Rafta’ will make you want to dance in your seat.
The film’s main target segment will be the NRI audiences. In India, it targets the multiplex goers. Expect the film to do a good amount of business overseas, however, the cricket fever might hamper collections at large.
The film is a good watch if you enjoy commercially driven moral stories. Namastey London makes for a decent watch and is a must see for all NRIs (myself included) who believe that a resident’s permit or citizenship of a foreign land gives you the right to proclaim yourself a thorough bred citizen of that country (think again!).