Fishing Lessons

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2165e534a031de54a5f04b014120ac6b-2Namastey London . Director: Vipul Shah. Players: Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif, Clive Standen, Rishi Kapoor. Music: Himesh Reshammiya. Theatrical release.
Shah and Kumar have worked up handy joint ventures in recent years. Both their previous collaborations—Aankhen (2002) and Waqt: The Race Against Time(2005)—hit the bull’s eye. With Namastey London, they turn their attention to a cross-cultural romantic comedy. Bouncy, visually appealing, and funny,Namastey London provides Shah and Kumar with an uncanny three-for-three slam dunk.

While unoriginal, the plot is executed with oh-such-finesse. British-raised and ultra-bratty Jasmeet Singh (Kaif)—as in Ms. Jazz, if you’re nasty—has major man trouble. On the one hand, she dons an expensive coif and plunging necklines to lure a thrice-divorced billionaire, London playboy Charlie Brown, who is also, coincidentally, her boss. On the other hand, much to the chagrin of Jazz’s tradition-minded father (Kapoor), she must take hasty evasive action from being unsuitably forced-matched to Arjun (Kumar), who is equivalent to an aloof, scooter-riding desi bubba from Punjab.

Light-hearted and sure-footed, Kaif’s Jazz is a wonderful bi-cultural doyen adrift in endless parties and pseudo-independence. Kaif’s delivery makes it clear that underneath the pancake makeup there struggles a mature young woman petrified of even acknowledging her Indian-ness. Jazz’s father (Kapoor) is a budding poet unafraid to break into a shayari when stressed out. In a complementary fashion, Kumar then plays an easily digested “ethnic” hero who wears his heart on a sleeve and will jump the first ship to follow Jazz to London.

So call me shallow, but on a scale of 1-10, Namastey London is probably a 7, give or take. The last time a romantic comedy milked so much out of a nothing plot, and appeared to genuinely have fun doing so, was the 2004 hit Hum Tum. Here’s hoping it won’t take this brand of lightning another three years to strike again.

—Aniruddh Chawda

 

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