Namaste Wahala premiered on 14th February 2021 on Netflix. Directed, written, and produced by Hamisha Daryani Ahuja, the Nigerian cross-cultural romantic comedy film stars Ini Dima-Okojie and Ruslaan Mumtaz in the leading roles. This film was hailed as the first major collaboration between Bollywood and Nollywood which are two of the biggest film industries in the world.
Somethings never go out of style and neither does the film industry’s obsession with clichés. Namaste Wahala (Wahala meaning trouble) adds to the list of cliché romantic movies with a twist of cross-cultural spice. Namaste Wahala revolves around an Indian boy named Rajesh and a Nigerian girl named Didi who fall in love at first sight. As the story progresses we go through the same tried and refused story of Indian mother hating Nigerian girl, Nigerian mother hating Indian boy (like 2 States). And throughout we know how it’s going to end.
The film has so many cringe points where you would want to quit. Like extensive songs, Rajesh meeting Didi for the first time and directly saying “this is the girl I am going to marry”. No sir, hold up! And even after working in Nigeria for years, I believe as Rajesh comes across as an established man he ‘paye lagoo’s Didi’s father. It’s hard to believe that he does not have even a minuscule idea about the culture and greeting style of the place he is working in. This indirectly also marks a serious lack of work ethic in Rajesh. Red flags everywhere. The list doesn’t end.
And this is exactly where the problem lies for me. The film not even once tries to embrace the difference of culture but rather colours everything in Bollywood style and leaves no place for culturally unique visuals. Namaste Wahala is surely one of the most poorly cooked Rom-com with no spice!
The film not only falls flat in terms of its screenplay but also in its acting section. In an intense fight scene where emotions should literally flow, there’s a drought. Furthermore, a major part of the plot tries to establish Didi as a headstrong woman who stood against her own father digressing from the theme of the film very often! And then there is this sexual assault case that Didi fights (she’s a lawyer) and it desensitizes the entire gut-wrenching reality of abuse. It’s bad. Topics like these should not be the bait to film progress.
Stream It or Skip It
SKIP IT! In 106 minutes, Namaste Wahala manages to disappoint viewers various times. I understand that the film is a big deal as it brings together two different industries, it still does not justify the overall approach of the film. Even the dance numbers are flat but you can spice the entire movie up by watching it at 1.5X speed. I wish the film would have embraced both the cultures rather than making it all repetitive and bollywood’y!
Namaste Wahala is now streaming on Netflix.
Read our other reviews here.