Cast: Ruslaan Mumtaz, Ini Dima-Okojie, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Joke Silva, Sujata Sehgal, Ibrahim Suleiman, Hamisha Daryani Ahuja
Directed by: Hamisha Daryani Ahuja
We are not in a Bollywood movie, an Indian boy tells a Nigerian girl. For their sake you wish they were, their love story would be much more exciting.
Namaste Wahala harks back to the way Bollywood no longer makes love stories. You have a boy and a girl in love. You have a smoking parent on both sides who doesn’t approve of the match. Add in some ‘thanda naach-gaana’, tired rom-com, zero chemistry plus random melodrama, and what you get is 106 minutes of poorly cooked masala potboiler that’s too amateurish to regale.
For the record, the film is an Indo-Nigerian attempt. So the Bollywood-Nollywood crossover mash is of course put down as a USP. It all ends in a mess.
Writer-director Hamisha Daryani Ahuja casts Bollywood actor Ruslaan Mumtaz as Raj, an investment banker in Lagos, Nigeria. He runs into social worker Didi (Nollywood actress Ini Dima-Okojie) on the beach during an early morning walk, and it’s love at first sight for both of them.
A love song later, it’s time for Didi to introduce Raj to her parents. Of course, Didi’s father (Richard Mofe-Damijo) has a nice Nigerian boy (Ibrahim Suleiman) tucked away for her in his office. He’s about to unleash the vintage Amrish Puri rage as Raj goes for the good old ‘paye lagoo’ practice.
Didi has the same fate in store when Raj’s own Punjabi mom (Sujata Segal) comes to the door. She’s a full-blown Kirron Kher parody, grumbling about how thin Raj has gotten from living alone, claiming she’ll feed him “nice butter chicken” so he’ll be “nice and fat” again. Her response, as Didi comically tries to fall at her feet during their first meeting, should add to the comedy – she asks Raj if Didi can prepare chhole bhature.
Sometimes a bad-formulated movie gets unintentionally funny because of the clichés it tries to provoke. The problem with Namaste Wahala is that even cliche-ridden movies with bad formulas in the Bollywood romcom genre have passed their sell-by date quite some time ago.
For the sake of authenticity, writer-director Ahuja uses a mix of English, Hindi and local Nigerian slang. You feel a lack of coherence in the overall atmosphere that the dialogues try to build, just as the screenwriting (Diche Enuwa and Temitope Bolade-Akinbode) struggles to tell compelling stories. This in turn affects the performances as the cast strives to overcome poorly written roles.
Namaste Wahala broadly translates to ‘Hello problems’. For the sake of an interesting watch, we wish we could spot a glitch somewhere in this story.
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