Bollywood has a strange understanding of sequels. For them, it is more about rehashing whatever worked best in the first film. With this random observation that might or might not find a place in this review, let me talk about Namaste England, directed by Vipul Amrutlal Shah. As you are aware, it is a sort-of sequel to Shah's own 2007 film, Namastey London. The same movie that put sanskaar in Akshay Kumar and the only film in existence that justified Katrina Kaif's accent. Since both have moved to better things in life, we now have Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra playing the leads here.
It is love at first sight for Param (Arjun Kapoor…whose onscreen characters frequently have this myopic problem) when he sees Jasmeet (Parineeti Chopra) in his hometown in Punjab. Through very random (a term that this review will love to use a lot) sequences, Jasmeet reciprocates his feelings, and in their first ever romantic conversation, she talks about how she wants to work after marriage and wants Param to allow her to do that, since her family doesn't. Again, let me remind you this is their first romantic conversation. An ever amiable Param agrees to her condition and makes his folks meet hers.
Then her grandfather puts another random condition in front of his folks - Jasmeet should never work after marriage. No ifs, no buts, just pure nuts. Param, thinking he will find a loophole later, agrees to it. Then after a couple of other random scenes, they get married, though Param finds complications in getting a visa for his honeymoon on the same day. A year later, Jasmeet has London Dreams all of a sudden (somebody should have given a copy of Shah's film by the same name to cure her of it) and is desperate to reach Queen's land. The holier-than-Ganges Param agrees and they try ways to make the Dream come true working through his visa complications. Namaste England Music Review: Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra's Film Has An Enchanting Soundtrack.
Then a random travel agent (Satish Kaushik), with an inexplicable penchant of calling everyone Darling, arrives and tells the couple of a nefarious scheme to get to London. A 'whiter-than-TiO2' Param is apprehensive. Jasmeet agrees to it and she arrives in London, leaving a heart-broken Param behind, with a promise of bringing him there once she gets residency. Determined to get his love back, Param reaches London illegally and tries to convince his wife to return with him. The task is not easy, as in his own words, she is having an affair with the city.
'Namaste' is not the only thing that Namaste England has borrowed from its predecessor. There are many elements recycled from the first film, including the idea of having the hero woo his wife back to return to Punjab. The big difference, I admit, is to have the lead couple in love from the start and let the girl's ambition play the third angle in their love story, instead of a gora (though there is Aditya Seal's character, who adds random tension now and then). The first half is strictly decent, mostly because Arjun and Parineeti share a lovely chemistry that the movie capitalises on. Otherwise, most of the sequences share this common trait of unbelievability. What can you say about the movie whose main conflict is built upon a scene involving a drunken brawl and an inconsequential character? Namaste England Meets Namaste London: Katrina Kaif Goes Missing From This Picture of Akshay Kumar, Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra.
The interval twist about how Jasmeet managed to get her visa is unexpected. However, the randomness of the scenes before that renders the twist so fake that it ends up making Jasmeet a very shallow character. The rest of the movie does little to change that. At least in the first movie, Katrina's Jasmeet was tricked into getting married to the lead. Here, Parineeti's character is so sketchily written that we are never able to empathise with her actions, even when we understand her plight. Especially, when the movie is more interested in making sure the male protagonist is a kindred spirit. Even if you fail to notice that, the movie makes sure the heroine and the rest of the characters keep on reiterating that.
If the first half was bearable, the second half takes things down an abysmal low. It begins with a little promise when Param takes an illegal route to get to London. But the way he comes out of his hardships (condensed in a montage), it feels like Param had gone for a Matheran trek instead. Once he reaches London, things become more awful as he begins his mission to bring the missus back home. And how does he do that? By fake-hooking up with a girl (who becomes so besotted with him within an hour of meeting him that she even wants to marry him) to make her jealous. There is also the aforementioned Aditya Seal's character who shuttles between the whites and the greys in his character, depending upon the whims of the screenplay.
Perhaps as a reminder to the makers themselves that Namaste England is a sequel to Namastey London, Arjun Kapoor gets to have his own Akshay Kumar-'India Shining' moment, when a random (yes, again) NRI trash-talks him. However, like the rest of the film, it feels like a plastic replica of the original, still quote-worthy scene. Also, why does Param have to look down on people trying to make a living in foreign lands? He might think his La La Land is cool, but not everyone is that lucky.
Everything above leads to a ridiculous climax, that makes you drop your jaws at the sheer absurdity going on screen. And it makes you ask, what Akshay must have asked Vipul when he would have approached him for the sequel, 'Bhai, point kya tha?'
Watch The Trailer of Namaste England Here -
The major blame falls on the uneven writing, and Shah's fallible direction, as the movie shifts between Judwaa 2 kind of comedy to poker-faced seriousness without flinching. The dialogues are really bad.
The only thing I loved in Namaste England's movie-making process was Mannan Shah's music. Even though, the songs are not as fabulous as Himesh Reshammiya's score for Namastey London, they are still pretty pleasant to listen to.
Arjun Kapoor is quite earnest in a role that he can now play in his sleep (In some scenes, I thought he was sleep-walking). I have no clue why Parineeti took up this role, that offers her so little respite, especially since she took on a similar role in Meri Pyaari Bindu. She is good, but her character motivations are all over the place. At least, both Arjun and Parineeti make a fine pair on screen.
- The leads are decent
- The music
- The whole movie
After watching the trailer, if you had the feeling that Namaste England is no great shakes, then pat your own back for that Nostradamic insight! For this movie is a just a weirdly recycled take on its predecessor, with an affinity for randomness. Watch it at your own risk!