Namaste England Review

“Namaste England” presents a poor tale that would not have worked even in 2008, just a year after “Namastey London.” (Parineeti Chopra/Twitter photo)

Pen India Ltd., Reliance Entertainment & Blockbuster Movie Entertainers present “Namaste England”

Produced by: Vipul Amrutlal Shah, Jayantilal Gada, Aksshay Jayantilal Gada & Dhaval Jayantilal Gada

Directed by: Vipul Amrutlal Shah

Written by: Suresh Nair & Ritesh Shah

Music: Mannan Shah

Starring: Parineeti Chopra, Arjun Kapoor. Aditya Seal, Alankrita Sahai, Satish Kaushik, Shivendra Mahal, Mallika Dua, Shreya Mehta, Anil Mange, Pratik Dixit Anjum Batra, Shivendra Mahal, Hobby Dhaliwal, Vinod Nagpal & others

Once upon there was a director who made the average “Aankhen” (2002) that still became enough fodder for a proposed sequel that never happened; the gripping hit “Waqt: The Race Against Time” and finally “Namastey London.” The last film rocked big-time, its music a sellout sensation, and its following now almost cult. After this, Vipul Amrutlal Shah (now known more as a producer of “Singh Is Kinng,” “Holiday” and the “Commando” franchise) directed the abysmal “London Dreams” and the cute “Action Replayy,” that however flopped. He then took a sabbatical from direction.

Like with so many others in his position, his first thought of a comeback was with his most celebrated franchise, and since there were technical issues (like joint ownership with Akshay Kumar, who could not do this film) the title was chosen without the “y” to become “Namaste England” rather than “Namastey London 2.”

Convinced that he had a great thing going with a younger AK (Arjun Kapoor) and Parineeti Chopra, he chose a similar world and a story that looked at the plight of illegal immigrants and not just the difference in cultures between Punjab and England. A patriotic speech similar to that made with great effect and impact in the former film was forced in, even if ridiculous in concept and content, and a Pakistani was brought in for Indo-Pak amity (sic) a la a similar family in the former film.

Shah decided to incorporate many social angles: gender equality and woman empowerment (hadn’t “Badrinath Ki Dulhania” been loved?) and oppose the regressive policies adopted by Sikh elders even now amidst the verdant villages and farms? Obviously fake contract marriages and illegal immigration agents all came in as well.

And if a film’s hero and heroine had to resort to unlawful activities, well, there had to be a “valid” reason: and that was a friend-turned-foe of the hero (Anjum Batra) who is so influential that the hero and heroine cannot even get a visa for their honeymoon!

Before the reader gets confused, here’s the gist: Param (Arjun Kapoor), not a Sikh but a Hindu from Punjab, and Jasmeet (Parineeti Chopra) fall in love. Jasmeet wants to make a career out of jewelry design but cannot (Why? Watch the film if you must, we do not want to bore you here!) and finally, has to reach London. For that, she has to pretend to be married to Sam (Aditya Seal), who has a dying grandfather (Vinod Nagpal) in London, who wants him settled with a Punjabi ‘kudi’ after his slew of girlfriends.

Jasmeet keeps her husband in the dark until the last moment, and he, out of reasons best known to him – Param seems to be jobless and helps out occasionally in his father’s farm, “for five years” (we are told!) – he decides to follow her illegally. And there, while he has to deal with Sam, he makes Jasmeet deal with his newfound and hot and willing friend Alisha (Alankrita Sahai).

And yes, before we forget, for someone who wants to glorify Punjabi/Sikh culture, we see most of the Sikhs portrayed in a poor light: Jasmeet’s grandfather and brother, the illegal immigration officer, the vicious ex-friend, and finally even the misguided Jasmeet!

A confused, directionless yawn of a film, it has nothing to do with either emotional connect, entertainment value or any sensible message worth learning. Shockingly, two of the finest contemporary young writers concoct this mess, and it would seem that they were just not allowed to be themselves. Musically extremely mediocre and forgettable, the film’s sole redemption comes from a foreigner – with Ioannis Manolopoulos’s camerawork, even as editor Amitabh Shukla is made to be lazy with his scissors, especially in the first few reels, and the background score (Prasad Sashte is overworked.

In such a scenario, what can the lead actors do at all? Parineeti looks fogged and lost on many an occasion and resorts to stereotyped romance in the rest. Kapoor is sincere in a few sequences and mundane most of the time. Only Anil Mange as the Pakistani illegal immigrant and above all, Alankrita Sahai as Alisha make string impressions. Yes, we did like Shreya Mehta as the friend who makes a characteristic noise with her tongue, Aditya Seal for his general sincerity, and Mallika Dua as the intentionally over-the-top NRI Harpeet.

But it is sad that a talent like director Shah chose to present, in 2018, a poor tale that would not have worked even in 2008, just a year after “Namastey London.”

Rating: *1/2

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