Namastey London Hindi Movie

Feature Film | 2007 | Comedy, Romantic
Mar 25, 2007 By Subhash K. Jha

Trust Akshay Kumar to play the dependable, noble man waiting for his wife to succumb to his charms even if it takes him (and her) forever.

He did it in "Dhadkan". Now he does it with finesse in Vipul Shah's neatly-written film about a mal-adjusted British-Asian family in London grappling with the vagaries of a socio-cultural system that makes children of Indians and Pakistanis more Britons than the British.

Or so believes Katrina Kaif, whose character is similar to that of Saira Banu in Manoj Kumar's "Purab Aur Paschim". Katrina brings into play all the uncertainties of a generation that's caught between Indian tradition and the pubs of Britain.

Shah keeps his story of a British Indian girl's journey into the heart of Punjab and a Punjabi lover-boy tightly reined-in. It highlights the cultural conflicts that Britain throws up for migrants.

London is captured not as an exotic city but the hub of a hectic cultural conflict, which sometimes reminds us of Gurinder Chaddha's "Bend It Like Beckham". At times, Shah takes off into a world of comic candour, portraying the nuclear British Asian family in all its parodic glory.

Suresh Nair's writing skills are on display in almost every scene. He brings parody and poignancy into picturesque play. Watch Rishi Kapoor and his Punjabi son-in-law Akshay Kumar bond over beer and giggle at the dining table.

The narration moves into the streets of London with as much fluency as the dusty gullies of Punjab. Bringing Indian and British cultures together are the outstanding technicians and actors. Jonathan Bloom's camera captures London's ethnic underbelly well.

Rishi Kapoor as the worried father of a spoilt London lass is great. Katrina finally comes into her own. She's the portrait of bubbly brattiness.

Shah, whose earlier films relied heavily on Gujarati theatre, comes into his own too. He takes gentle but stinging swipes at the rootlessness that characterises the torn lives of Indians abroad.

The Indian Diaspora becomes the subject for a strong, drama-driven celebration of music, songs and an ironic humour that pokes fun at conventions that irrigate and yet retard the growth of Indian cinema.

Only the Pakistani sub-plot, with Upen Patel, doesn't gel with the plot. Shah tries to give the film darker shades than the genre permits. Thankfully these lunges at socio-cultural profundity do not scar the narrative.

Watching this film is like chewing on a gum that retains its flavour much longer than you expect.

Subhash K. Jha