Bollywood movies are brilliant timepass and I like to keep up. Most, however, aren’t worth a post-mortem so I don’t. But Footloose, cinema-companion of the past three years, has gone to foreign shores and is Bollywood-deprived. As for us, the phillum-circuit just ain’t the same. This for you, girl.
Salaam Namaste has a lot going for it – Yashraj as producers, the inevitable new director, bankable stars, a foreign location (so essential for a Class A Bollywood product these days), pleasant music and a ‘daring’ ‘story’ viz, a couple that lives together.
Set in Melbourne. Nick is a qualified architect/practising chef, Ambar is a doctor/practising radio jockey, going to be a surgeon. All very hip. They meet, spar a little, flirt a little. Five days after they’ve met, Nick, for some rather unconvincing reasons, talks Ambar into moving in with him. She does (nice, glassy sea-front house) and all is milk and honey for a while. Song: My dil goes mmm actually gives you a lilt. Very nice.
Three months later when Ambar starts making noises about “is rishte ko naam dena chahti hoon”, you know the honeymoon (for characters as well as audience) is over. Nick is anti-marriage and Ambar is pregnant (incidentally, what man ever has not reacted to ‘I’m pregnant’ with an ‘Are you sure?’) So it goes here: he reacts badly and it all (script including) goes downhill.
The relationship goes petty and rather screechy. However excusable the initial shock may have been, Nick throws himself beyond the pale by staying hostile for months, hogging the bathroom when she needs to throw up, letting her go to Lamaze classes by herself, and generally being stubbornly insensitive instead of extending some much needed TLC.
The change of heart comes about when she looks about 11 months into the pregnancy and he does too little, too late. Like escorting her to get a tub of ice cream in the middle of the night and doing one song (incidentally, Ambar is most sprightly for such a heavily pregnant woman, but let’s not quibble). Complications occur, characters embarrass themselves thoroughly (when oh when will Bollywood give up public declarations of love?) and the babies are delivered in a thoroughly ill-placed, mistimed comic scene (inspired by that Hollywood flick, I forget which) with a hysterical, inept doctor (guess who? Can’t have a release w/o him these days – no, NOT the Big B). Messy.
Saif Ali Khan and Preity Zinta are ok, I suppose – Saif certainly seems happy to be romancing this pretty woman without SRK’s ghost haunting them. Oh, Saif takes off his shirt a lot and there is flab! And then, there are ways to wear low slung jeans with underwear peeking and look cool, but that is not one of them.
One of my favourite actors, Arshad Warsi, plays Nick’s friend, and he made all the difference to the first half. Didn’t like Javed Jaffrey, but he got a couple of lines that were ticklish: ‘When in the Rome, do the Romans’. Indeed.
Final verdict: There is only one sentence to cover it all – ek baar dekh sakte.