Thursday, December 27, 2007

Namastey London - phir bhi dil hai NRI

There are a lot of reasons why Indians take their stories abroad, though as I understand it the biggest one nowadays is budget – it's just easier for a big megastar to shoot in London or Sydney, where you don't need the crowd control you'd need in basically anywhere in India. They can wrap up projects faster, release them faster, and I guess the audiences also like to see the handsome foreign locales. You don't see many complaining, and NRI films are like any Indian films – hit or miss, there are good examples and bad examples. (This I took away from an interview with the certified Dude of Indian film, Akshay Kumar, about a year ago on IBN-live.)

Namastey London, a story about a completely British born, British thinking desi girl (Katrina Kaif) and a true-and-blue Punjabi boy (Akshay Kumar), is half-and-half – an annoying example of those Indian films who start out lovely but change tone slightly after interval. However, NL is far from being the worst example of this phenomenon, and for that, it deserves to be remembered as a good example of NRI films. Katrina's Jazz, or Jasmeet, is quite a refreshing NRI girl - she's openly Westernized, but this is not exceedingly frowned upon. Even her Indian bridegroom accepts this, and falls in love with her for exactly as she is. The whole NRI phenomenon is portrayed in a way I'd even dare call realistic. One stand-out scene for me was near the beginning, where Jasmeet's parents have an argument that reveal their own past; how the mother was brought to London from India, and how she was so Indian that her husband was embarrassed of her behaviour in public - hence she brought up their daughter to be more British, so she could go out more than her mother did.

That change of tone, though? Well, in typical Indian film fashion there has to be a villain and the villain in this case - the angrezi, the gora. Jasmeet's gora boyfriend is implied a bad, bad person from the get-go, and the rest of the gora cast is not much different (apart from Upen Patel's girlfriend who doesn't have any ridiculous demands or doesn't make any racist remarks, gladly). Of course, the Indians set the silly white people straight left and right, and the posh Brits look quite foolish in their castles and whatnots, which serves this bunch right, but naturally as a non-Indian I can't help but get annoyed at this portrayal. Yes, the West does have ridiculous prejudice regarding Indians, their culture and their religion (you know, Muslim=terrorist, that whole meme) but we're not all like that and the way the whole thing is presented, well, it grates me.

Thankfully not enough to distract me from the fantastic romantic developments of the second half, but there was another painful distraction to the movie - Himesh Reshmiyya soundtrack. Where he sings, naturally, in nearly every bloody song. I nearly tore my hair out. A couple of cutesy song picturizations, but good god I never want to hear this man's voice again.

But all in all - lovely film which I don't regret watching at all. And by the way, to prove Akki really is what I said he is, The Dude of Bollywood, check out this news article. Khan kaun, this is the guy who brings Indians to theaters. I'm more than happy for him for that achievement (and I'll be seeing Bhool Bhulaiyaa eventually, but Dude or no Dude, Heyy Baby is a miss for me).


memsaab said...

I thought this movie was great fun and was surprised to like Katrina so much.

Am really enjoying your blog in general :-)

Sanni said...

I was surprised to really like her, as well. I hope she gets good roles like this in the future.

Thank you. :)

Anonymous said...

I thought this movie was surprisingly good - I really enjoyed it.

Emily said...

I felt kinda the took me awhile to warm up to the movie. In the beginning the only character I felt any sympathy or liking for was Rishi Kapoor's, and it wasn't until they went to India and Akshay came into the picture that I decided not to turn it off and to see what happened. I wasn't thrilled by all the gora-bashing, but most of it went right over my head because I just didn't care.