Critic’s Rating: [usr 2]
Namaste England Story: Param (Arjun Kapoor) and Jasmeet (Parineeti Chopra) fall in love and they get married. Their perfect romance gets disturbed by Jasmeet’s suppressed ambition however. She has dreams of going to London so that she can pursue her career and build a better life for herself. But Param isn’t able to get a visa and that creates some high drama in their love life.
- Arjun Kapoor as Param
- Parineeti Chopra as Jasmeet
- Aditya Seal as Sam
- Anil Mange
- Dijana Dejanovic as Alisha
Namaste England Review: Punjabis love to dance. Punjabis are obsessed with immigrating to the UK. Women in rural Punjab would rather be gainfully employed than conform to their societal-approved role of turning into baby-making machines, post marriage. These are just a few nuggets that emerged from the possible research conducted by director-producer Vipul Shah before developing this project. The task at hand — string together a film that responds to these insights — even if it doesn’t particularly brush past something that would qualify for a legitimate story.
The film opens to rural Punjab on the eve of Dussehra. Our munda Param (Arjun Kapoor) has spotted his kudee, Jasmeet (Parineeti Chopra) amidst a crowd of revellers. After stalking her through festivals and across seasons when the two finally meet, she questions his stalker-ish ways. He’s prepared for this one: “Ghoorte toh badmaash hain, aashiq toh nihaarte hain.” Yes, this is a line that works. It takes a bhangra number or two for their love story to blossom and they’re about to get hitched. But the kudee’s bauji and veerji feel a woman who works brings shame to the community and draft a clause into their alliance — Jasmeet won’t work post-shaadi. “A woman’s job is to produce children and man’s is to provide for her,” says the bearded bauji. Their master plan: immigrating to the UK where bauji, veerji and other jis can’t micro-manage their lives. But getting a visa stamped for a young Punjabi is as probable as “a terrorist’s chances of sneaking into heaven”. So some jugaad must be employed — Jasmeet goes the dependent visa way by latching on to a Brit passport holder whose grandfather seeks an Indian bahu, while Param must take the rough illegal route — dodging bullets at the Bangladesh border, being thrown in with several dozen others in a shipping container and he’s in the British capital even before one can say Brexit. Now, this is where the film goes from pointless to painful. Lack of conflict or chemistry between the lead couple, tedious dialogue and a mumbling monologue on how being an Indian is a matter of well-deserved pride (similar to the one in Namaste London (2007), minus the impact) restrict this story from taking any definitive direction. To contest with Jasmeet’s pretend-husband, Param begins courting a pretend-partner. And while the two haven’t drifted apart, for some reason there’s a serious attempt to make the other jealous. But jealousy is an emotion that the audience watching this film feels about those in the neighbouring screen.
Kapoor and Chopra debuted together six years ago in Habib Faisal’s Ishaqzaade, a compelling adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. This reunion could’ve been a chance to salvage their scattered careers and conjure the same magic they brought to the screen as newcomers. Sadly, average material littered with clichés keeps them from delivering on their potential and neither is particularly impressive.
Given his filmography, one would believe that director-producer Shah has his mind and heart in the right place. Action-thrillers such as Aakhen and Holiday: A Soldier is never off duty or even Waqt, the emotional drama that explored the father-son bond—were all conceptualised and executed with some discerning heft. And if he took the decision to turn Namaste London into a franchise, it should’ve been backed with a more compelling story and perhaps, a cast to match.
In a desperate attempt to draw empathy for the sorry lives of illegal immigrants, this one features those cooped up in dimly-lit rooms who get to see their children only through video calls. When Param learns that an acquaintance—also an illegal immigrant—is a toilet cleaner at the airport, he voices his concerns, “Agreed no job is big or small, but why this?” “When you’re uneducated and illegal in the country, you have to do what you get.” Perhaps, this film is an attempt to discourage those who illegally migrate to first-world countries to take up menial jobs.