Early in Vipul Shah’s “Namaste England”, the hero thinks the only way he can start a conversation with the girl he fancies is if one of his friends marries one of hers! “Who’s willing to sacrifice themselves?” he asks, to which a friend volunteers, allowing Param (Arjun Kapoor) and Jasmeet (Parineeti Chopra) to acquaint themselves at the wedding.
An hour into the film, by which time our protagonists are married, Jasmeet proposes that one of them get into a fake marriage to obtain a UK visa. But Param is appalled. “How can anyone marry for reasons other than love”, he responds, stricken. The irony is all but lost on Shah and his characters. But to those watching the film, it is glaringly obvious.
“Namaste England” is full of such farcical moments, made more painful by the glaring lack of talent in all departments. Shah tries to combine romance, his idea of women empowerment, and a dose of nationalism to come up with a product that is sub-par at best.
At the heart of the film and its conflict is Jasmeet’s grandfather, who refuses to let the women in his family work. Frustrated that she doesn’t have control of her life, Jasmeet marries Param because he promises to give her freedom.
There is hardly anything to be said for the way the story is set up in the first half, but things get progressively worse when the story moves to London. Kapoor and Chopra have no chemistry. Shah tries to throw in an Akshay Kumar-style speech, where Param schools a room full of Britons about the virtues of being Indian, a treatise which include the words “Kohinoor Diamond” and “Someday Britishers will wish that they were born Indian!”
None of this has any hope of working on screen, and the acting makes it worse. As if Arjun Kapoor’s “Johnny Bravo” haircut wasn’t distracting enough, the actor can barely muster up two expressions. Chopra is no better, sleepwalking through a role that didn’t have too much meat in the first place.
Nothing about “Namaste England” is redeemable. This is 135 minutes of mediocrity that you would do well to avoid.
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