Director: Vipul Amrutlal Shah
Cast: Arjun Kapoor, Parineeti Chopra
Namaste England is so insufferably stupid and senseless that even the strategy of inserting the horrid trailer of a movie named Rangeela Raja in the interval starring a heavy-looking Govinda in a double role lustfully letching at scantily clad starlets alongside Shakti Kapoor in 2018 fails to elevate our relative perception of Vipul Amrutlal Shah’s bogus opus. The IQ of this film is so low that if the director’s last two films – Action Replay and London Dreams – had an ill-tempered baby, it would barf all over the script of this one.
The most expressive actor in this film is a tractor in Pind, which does a wheelie (presumably out of shock) once it realizes that it is stuck in a montage that has the hero win over the heroine by systematically stalking her across various Indian festivals and seasons. Shrewd Jasmeet agrees to unholy matrimony because nice Param agrees to let her pursue her jewelry-designing ambitions. Their chemistry, symbolized by some atrocious song-and-dance routines, suggests that they are in pure-ghee-style love. Any male with half a brain would by now realize that she is simply using him to gain freedom from her oppressive household. The actress is, after all, Parineeti Chopra – playing the role of yet another awful, awful human being whose hollow moral compass compels her to assume that making puppy eyes after exploiting everybody’s emotions will compensate for her sins in the end. And Bollywood’s conscienceless screenwriters continue to enable her delusions.
A random sub-plot involving a drunk and vengeful friend at a wedding, his vow to block the couple’s honeymoon-visa applications, and a shady visa agent’s plan of fake marriage results in crooked Jasmeet reaching London and Param being left to contemplate his talent of depicting multiple emotions with zero facial expressions. Anyhow, the true genius of this movie lies in its gaze of illegal immigration. At one point, we see Param, a privileged Jatt boy from a farming family, undertake a journey to Bangladesh by cutting through the border’s barbed wires and escaping errant bullets, then get onto a cramped cargo vessel to Brussels (?), before crossing over to Paris and then London – fifty shades darker, literally, to show what a harrowing physical struggle it has been. His tan matches his brown leather jacket.
Once he reaches London, Namaste England turns into a mild-mannered Ajnabee, complete with the swinging and creepy mind-games, and attempts to deliver social commentary on the epidemic of undocumented immigration and starry-eyed dreams. The only commentary it actually manages to evoke is Ravi Shastri’s at an open bar on a dry day. At another point, Param paaji delivers a monologue on patriotism to a scowling born-and-bred British Indian at a posh party – he seems to be reading out a fifth grader’s essay on the ISRO space program, and does it with the kind of deadpan daftness that makes us yearn for better days starring Akshay Kumar, bad Bengali accents and sanitary pads.
There’s a perverse harmony about Arjun Kapoor in a monstrously bad Hindi movie. The two are meant to be. Each year, he looks more and more like a disinterested man forced to participate in the family business. It’s not just the way he recites his lines; it’s his cluelessness between them that suggests he is yet to learn that acting is primarily about reacting. His last three performances – in Mubarakan, Half Girlfriend and Ki & Ka – are so frighteningly lifeless that film schools might use them as cautionary modules. Along with Shraddha Kapoor, and now Parineeti Chopra, Arjun Kapoor is one of the rare actors who is worsening with experience. One can only wish he wakes up and smells the filter coffee one day. Till then, films like Namaste England will ensure that, in the spirit of true nationalism, India continues to avenge its colonization by shooting trash on British shores today.