Cast: Arjun Kapoor, Parineeti Chopra, Aditya Seal, Alankrita Sahai
Director: Vipul Amrutlal Shah
I’m not sure there’s a word in the English dictionary that can accurately convey just how boneheaded the characters in Vipul Shah’s Namaste England are. This is a movie about stupid people who do stupid things while stupidly trying to convince themselves and others that they’re doing it for love.
If every idiot character that ever appeared on screen had to take an IQ test, Param and Jasmeet, the protagonists of this film, would rank lower than Harry and Lloyd, the imbeciles from Dumb and Dumber.
Arjun Kapoor is Param, a boy from the Pind, who falls for Jasmeet (Parineeti Chopra) the moment he spots her during Dussehra celebrations. We watch his interest in her, and their subsequent romance, develop strictly over various festivals, which made me want to ask if they have any contact in the months between Diwali and Holi for example. But let’s not digress.
The pair is promptly married after progressive Param promises to support Jasmeet in pursuing a career after they’re wed. In fact he’s such a nice guy he agrees to move to England so she can follow her dream. But an entirely unconvincing series of plot twists leads to Jasmeet heading westwards, leaving Param heartbroken and unable to follow after her.
It’s brave that Parineeti Chopra agreed to play a character so singularly manipulative and unlikeable. She hurts the man she loves repeatedly, she uses him to escape her own strict family, and like Param tells her at one point, she’s so selfish she’s happy to be in a relationship with a city than with a person. Add that to the fact that Jasmeet is also fantastically foolish, and you’ve got a heroine with practically no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
Param, meanwhile, is just a doormat with very little self-respect, and not particularly smarter than his wife. Arjun and Parineeti are hardly at the top of their game here, and it’s easy to blame the actors for this film’s shortcomings, but the truth is that Namaste England wouldn’t be a lot better if Aamir Khan or Meryl Streep were in it.
Which brings me to wonder how a film like this was made in the first place. Why no one – from the actors, to the studios bankrolling the project, or frankly anyone who’d looked at its ridiculous script – asked why good money was being pumped into such drivel? That will be one of Bollywood’s big mysteries.
In 2007, Vipul Shah made Namaste London with Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif, and it was a pleasant enough entertainer with catchy songs and good chemistry between its leads. In Namaste England, Shah and his writers attempt to recycle some of what worked the last time around, including a rousing patriotic monologue by the hero addressed to a snotty India-basher. Alas, this scene has none of the impact of the original. It feels tired, recycled, and rote.
It’s hard to apply a traditional rating yardstick to a film that’s bereft of logic, or possesses even a modicum of common sense or plausibility. I’m going to skip rating Namaste England. Yes, this is that kind of awful film.