Saturday, March 31, 2007

Namaste London: No verve

It is rather an old theme for Hindi cinema. The expatriate Indian longing for the emotional and moral certainties of the mother country. And there is nothing wrong in playing on the old themes. "Namastey London" fails because it has no verve in its narration.

Akshay Kumar tried to give his best as he plays with a certain amount of conscientiousness the role of the good-hearted rustic who can speak English too, who can play a villager's pranks but show himself to be urbane enough not to force himself on the girl. He carries the role, but there is no conviciton.

And so it is with Rishi Kapoor, who now plays the role of the father of the heroine. It is sad to see a good, natural actor like Rishi Kapoor, who is so much better than the method school acting of the Manoj Bajpais, Naseeruddin Shahs, Nana Patekars of the world. It is the only time one feels that Hindi cienma should diversify enough to provide suitably interesting roles with a romantic interest to actors of the age and ability of Rishi Kapoor. But Rishi Kapoor, the good actor he is, gives his all to the role, and keeps the story moving.

Then we have the fair and fairly elegant Katrina Kaif, with her Anglicised accent, which is so appropriate for the role that she is playing in this film. But it seems that she carries the same accent in other films and other roles as well. But Katrina Kaif has the right romantic flair, and she can set the screen on fire if she improves her acting. She has the soulful eyes and the right emotional tinge in her voice, but she is not able to use it to her advantage. She is the new sultry siren of Hindi cinema, but she is in danger of fading away a little too fast if she does not abandon herself to the role she is portraying. She remains too much of a model, focusing more on her smile and the right angle of herself that she must present to the camera.

But there is one scene that redeems this insipid romantic tale. Akshay Kumar tells Katrina Kaif that he would like to return to London after many years, after he has grown old, and that he would ring her up and ask to meet her. And that when they meet, he would ask her if she is happy. And he utters a Punjabi line of poetry, which is put into Katrina Kaif's mouth in this imagined encounter. Katrina Kaif asks him what is the meaning of the Punjabi line. And Akshay says she should know the meaning because it was she who uttered it!
The film also boldly plays on the ethnic stereotyping in a post-9/11 world, where a Pakistani young man who wants to marry his English girl friend is asked by her parents to change his name and religion.
The songs are the most forgettable part of the film, except the Punjabi dance number filmed in the discotheque.

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