Namaste London tells the story of a UK-based family of Indian origin. I use the word “origin” loosely here. You see, the parents are from India, but their daughter was born after they emigrated and considers herself British. To complicate matters, she falls in love with a Brit. In order to prevent matters from going any further, her parents take her to Punjab on a holiday and have her married, more or less forcibly, to a man from their village. She goes along, but refuses to acknowledge the wedding once she gets back to the UK. Now it is up to her husband to win her back. You know how the rest of it goes, I am sure.
Vipul Shah has made three movies so far, and all of them have suffered from poor scripting. Aankhen got by because of its interesting premise, but Waqt had nothing to hide behind. In Namastey London, he fixes the problem in part by eschewing the melodrama that ruined Waqt, and sticking to a simple premise. The movie’s appeal rests primarily on three factors: Akshay Kumar being at the top of his game, Katrina Kaif being so gorgeous it’s obscene and Rishi Kapoor being Rishi Kapoor. Take those out of the equation and the movie pretty much slumps to its knees.
There are, however, some scenes that work. And the reason why they work can be summed up in two words: Rishi Kapoor. Now, when Rishi used to play the leading man, I never really understood his appeal. He was okay in movies like Karz, but the charm worked only up to a certain point. But as an older character actor, he totally rocks. One early scene where he and his wife have an argument about their daughter’s upbringing has more interesting dialogue than the rest of the movie put together.
But the scene that really worked best for me is a later one, just after a rugby match. Katrina’s British suitor has challenged Rishi and his subcontinental friends to a rugby match. It begins badly, but things change when Akshay enters the scene. Rishi gives him very simple instructions: Yeh ball pakad kar saand ki tarah uss goal post tak bhaag (take this ball and charge like a bull to that goal post). Needless to say, the Indo-Pak team wins. Rishi and his his friend’s (Javed Sheikh) juvenile celebration at having gotten one over the Brits is delightful to watch.
The scene immediately following it is at the dinner table, where Rishi is still in a celebratory mood and has a giggling fit. His daughter is obviously not amused, given that it is her boyfriend who has been shown up. But his laughter is so infectious that pretty soon everyone at the table is laughing. And so is the audience.
For a moment there, the movie cut itself loose and soared. Then it was back to plodding romance between beautiful people.
ps: What’s the blogging equivalent of doing a little skip in place a la David Shepherd?