Synopsis – An Indian couple go to great lengths to move to London, England.
My Take – For Bollywood loving audience nostalgia is a very important factor to stir them into the cinema halls, a fact filmmakers seem to perceive about, and choose to milk in this aspect as much as they can. Released about 11 years ago, producer-director Vipul Amrutalal Shah‘s film, Namaste London, was a major success upon release, with its relevant story line, music and the Akshay-Katrina chemistry earning wide appreciation. This time around, the Ishaqzaade pair, Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra take center stage in this Punjab to London love story, which once again explores the theme of immigrants and identity.
Although director Shah has repeatedly claimed that his film has a fresh story, I as viewer seriously failed to see what kind of freshness he was referring to here. Loosely directed, with a tepid chemistry between the leads, an immature premise and dull proceeding along with a handful of illogicality, the film hardly has any form of redeeming factor. The film is so dated in its ideas, storytelling and production that it even a city like London look bad here. While I still do think the Salman Khan starrer ‘Race 3′ is worst film of the year, this one is easily a close second.
Set in Punjab, the story follows Param (Arjun Kapoor) who during the festival of Dussehra falls in love with Jasmeet (Parineeti Chopra) at first sight. Living in a conservative society, the two seek the help of their supportive friends who come out of innumerable excuses to get Jasmeet out of her oppressive grandfather’s house, so they can date. While Param is content with tending to his family’s farm and cattle, Jasmeet who being highly educated aims to start a career as a jewelry designer, which Param being the nice guy is okay to live with. However during their marriage alliance Jasmeet’s grandfather, an old-fashioned chauvinist who believes a girl’s role is only as a homemaker, and not as breadwinner, keeps a condition to Param’s parents that he would agree to their marriage only if they never permit Jasmeet to work.
While the two get married, and happily carrying out their duties to each other and the family, an encounter with an old friend (Mallika Dua) puts an idea into Jasmeet’s head that wider opportunities lie in England. While Param’s brawl with a well-connected former friend makes it impossible for him to get a visa, he is still ready to move mountains to make Jasmeet’s wishes come true. But initially unknown to him, Jasmeet taking the advice from Gurnaam (Satish Kaushik), an immigration consultant, lies to Param about attaining a work visa, and instead marries off to Sam (Aditya Seal), a wealthy London based business man, in order to seek a residency. Furious at Jasmeet’s betrayal, Param decides to follow her to London, mainly to understand how she could choose a city over him.
This is all just doesn’t sound confusing, the film is actually confusing from start till finish as everything happens in the fast-forward mode without any logic and reasoning. There is barely a moment of relief from the tedium of watching the leads go through the motions and tuning into the poorly written dialogue and endlessly boring moments. Despite being a sequel to the very entertaining ‘Namastey London’, a film which gave Akshay Kumar’s career the push it needed and propelled Katrina Kaif to new heights of stardom, this time around it seems like director Shah who also wrote and conceived the film, seemed to have called the shots while sleeping. Even the script is poorly written.
The first half is incessantly slow and after an unexpected twist at the interval, the movie drives into melodrama especially after Param threatens Jasmeet that he will make her forget her love for London. And he makes good on his promise through a combination of disruptive and comic behavior. Jasmeet’s much-vaunted intelligence and taste are by now in serious doubt, since Param is clearly a poster boy of regressive behavior and Sam isn’t a bad catch. But since a female Londoner has declared that Param is a true Indian hunk and Jasmeet always follows him, and there isn’t any room for surprise here. The primary issue with the film is in the fact that it feels like two different films in either half. The initial portions involve the forced cuteness between the two Punjabi youngsters, their escapades, marriage and some inevitable emotional jolts. While all of it is still badly conceptualized, the film in the first half does not veer into levels of extreme disbelief.
But in the second hour, the film transforms into an immigrant drama where every single character experiences an identity crisis with respect to their personal emotions, goals and interpersonal status quo. Precisely, this is the kind of Bollywood film that shamelessly asserts the age-old stereotype that the industry has been plagued with. Instead of exploring the regression in the Indian society and how women are not being allowed to work in numerous states of the country, the film chooses to see a group of swanky dressed Punjabi women and men dancing away to glory in unnaturally colored fields and the ridiculous desperation of people from the Indian sub-continent wanting to move to the UK.
For example, on arrival in the British capital, Param and Jasmeet encounter less colorful characters and many clichés, NRIs with a disdain for India, illegal immigrants and their angst at having left a family behind, the falsehoods of a perceived better life. I am not insensitive to the fact that there is a large section of the population in developing nations that is in a truly desperate situation and moving to developed countries seems like the only ray of hope. The methods used here though, are crazy. There is also a standard patriotic speech during which Param extols the virtues of the homeland, leading to some awkward expressions from Chopra, which we assume were meant to depict pride. Despite being set in this current decade, director Vipul Amrutlal Shah‘s film stems from the school of cinema which would have sounded medieval even a decade back. It is not that the film’s predecessor, Namastey London, bred different intents, it just did it with more relevance.
The film also does not boast of any redeeming performances either. When Arjun Kapoor made his debut in Ishaqzaade along with Parineeti Chopra in her first leading role (following her scene stealing supporting act in the underwhelming Ladies vs Ricky Bahl), they were fresh and acceptable to the audience; since then they have done so many bad films their re-pairing never seemed exiting. Here, Arjun plays the too-good-to-be-true Punjabi boy so sincerely that his act seems flat, while Parineeti makes you believe her ambition but comes across as eccentric rather than persistent.
Curiously, the second leads are far more appealing and convincing. Aditya Seal as Jasmeet`s trophy-husband succeeds in making his character of a spoilt NRI brat anything but a jerk. Considering the limited time he has been provided to make his presence felt, Seal does well for himself. Alankrita Sahay too starts off as a spoilt silly Indian girl lost in a haze of western influences but quickly makes way for a more empathetic character. In a smaller role, Satish Kaushik is likable while Mallika Dua manages to bring a couple of smiles in her fleeting cameo. On the whole, ‘Namaste England’ is easily one of the most shoddily written films of the year, which is not just lackluster but also boring and predictable.
Directed – Vipul Amrutlal Shah
Rated – PG
Run Time – 141 minutes