Namaste England Review: 2007 Called, Even They Don’t Want this Film Back

Bollywood

Namaste England Review: 2007 Called, Even They Don’t Want this Film Back

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

In a recent clip doing the rounds, an Uttar Pradesh cop mimics the sounds of gunshots in a ridiculous – but badass – attempt to intimidate fleeing criminals. In many ways, watching his hapless efforts to project that he’s in control, is like watching Vipul Shah’s Namaste England. Comical, in a profoundly sad way.

Much before the brain fart named Namaste England released, “Why does Arjun Kapoor still have a career?” has been the top question baffling film aficionados. Luckily for Arjun, “Why did someone decide to spend ₹60 crore on Namaste England?” is soon to steal that honour. In fact, Namaste England’s plot is so unbelievably stupid that it parodies itself. After copious amounts of running around in fields (in fucking 2018) and supporting national integration by celebrating almost every Indian festival, the film’s leads, Jasmeet (Parineeti Chopra) and Param (Arjun Kapoor) fall in love. The lovebirds plan to marry but there’s a catch – Jasmeet’s grandfather makes Param’s family swear that she won’t work after marriage. Because the only amount of progressiveness the film can display is, beti padhao, beti ko trophy wife banao.

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After copious amounts of running around in fields (in fucking 2018) and supporting national integration by celebrating almost every Indian festival, the film’s leads, Jasmeet (Parineeti Chopra) and Param (Arjun Kapoor) fall in love.
Image Credit – Pen India Limited

So Jasmeet – who dreams of being a jewellery designer – decides that the only way out is if Param and she move to London and add another drop in the ocean of Punjabis there. All good, right? Not really. Things get even more complicated when Param’s former BFF-turned-bitter enemy swears to ensure that the couple never get a UK visa. Which is an act of social service because – unpopular opinion alert – who wants more Punjabis anywhere?

Then comes the plot-twist of the century, even worse than Vivek Oberoi’s career after Saathiya: We find out that Jasmeet is actually a UK-sexual. She abandons her husband to leave for London with a random man who can provide her citizenship. Over the years, Bollywood has fed us countless logic-defying reasons for break-ups, but leaving your husband because he isn’t a visa agent, must be a new low.

Once Jasmeet is in London, her passion for her career declines faster than the IQ of anyone watching this film.

Because Param has no self-respect (or facial expressions), the rest of this banal melodrama follows with him trying to win Jasmeet back. If there’s ever an Indian variant of the overly attached girlfriend meme, Param’s delusions can make him a worthy candidate. He also insinuates that Jasmeet is “having an affair with a city”, which makes sense considering The Big Ben feels more human than Arjun Kapoor. At this point, Namaste England isn’t just a film with the saddest performances, but it is also the saddest love story known to mankind.

With conversation rife around better female representation in Hindi cinema, a one-dimensional character like Jasmeet only takes us backwards. Not only is Parineeti Chopra’s unremarkable manic-pixie-dream-girl act annoying, but it’s also hopelessly irredeemable. Nobody has said “Fuck it, I’m off to London” in such a rush since Vijay Mallya.

That’s not all: Once Jasmeet is in London, her passion for her career declines faster than the IQ of anyone watching this film. On the other hand, loverboy Param’s attempts to smuggle himself to London are even more cringeworthy: He is thrust into a shipping container to Brussels, barely escapes border patrol, and is stuffed into the back of a truck with the corpse of a fellow refugee. Which again, has more screen presence than Kapoor. What a time to be alive.

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In a desperate attempt to milk every last drop of nostalgia, Arjun Kapoor also gives a chest-thumping speech about India in a room full of white people in the film.
Image Credit – Pen India Limited

In a desperate attempt to milk every last drop of nostalgia, Arjun Kapoor also gives a chest-thumping speech about India in a room full of white people in the film. While Akshay Kumar’s speech in Namastey London felt poignant, Kapoor’s version is delusional deshbhakt drivel. He rambles about how India has made a trip to Mars possible at the cost of a rickshaw ride. It’s safe to say that neither Arjun Kapoor nor Vipul Shah have actually taken a rickshaw – or know anything about space missions. Also in his speech is a prediction that the Brits and Yankees will be itching to emigrate to India in the next 50 years. It’s also safe to say that the writers of Namaste England live in Narnia, not India.

If you thought Namaste England had only 99 problems, you are underestimating the power of Vipul Shah’s tone-deafness. Throughout the film, characters casually spew lines such as “Woh uss type ki ladki hai” and “Mujhe tumhara second-hand pyaar nahi chahiye.” At one point, Jasmeet doesn’t hesitate to put down a woman trying to hit on Param. To indicate that she tends to sleep around, Jasmeet says, “Isse baithne kaho, toh let jaati hai.” Yes, this is indeed their idea of humour. At a time when Bollywood is showing increasing intolerance toward sexism, directors like Vipul Shah are still milking slut-shaming for comedy. That’s sadder than this film can ever hope to be.

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