Sunday, February 14, 2021

Namaste Wahala: Movie Review

Chaotic energy with wild shifts in tone.

Namaste Wahala is my first Nollywood film (Nigerian film industry) and they seem to have taken a lot of cues from Bollywood; it’s bright and colourful, with massive shifts in tone and a few random song breaks. Based on Netflix’s advertising, I think it was supposed to be their foreign entry for Valentine’s Day, but the many shifts in tone take it far from a romantic comedy.   2020

Directed by: Hamisha Daryani Ahuja

Screenplay by: Temitope Bolade, Diche Enunwa

Starring: Ini Dima Okojie, Ruslaan Mumtaz

The title translates from Hindi and Nigerian pidgin as “Hello Trouble”. I like that title. It speaks to the cultural roots of the film, the very playful opening it has and still fits when it transitions to a case of sexual assault and attempted murder. Umm, yeah, not the rom-com transition you were expecting.

At the beginning it’s a very over-the-top comedy. Didi and Raj meet each other on the beach, they fall madly in love at first sight, and their friends proceed to make fun of them. Then it transitions to a very over-the-top family drama as Didi’s father proclaims that she must have a son and marry a Nigerian man. And then it’s a musical! Those shifts in tone are wild and they only get more insane as the film progresses.

There is a lot of drama, and it’s presented all seriously, but it’s very hard to take it seriously. Her parents are very traditional and strict, and when she fails to warn him about her parents, he’s pissed. Then his mother arrives and hates her because she’ll never be good enough for her precious Indian son, and then she’s shocked that his family won’t accept her even though she already knows her family won’t accept him. And then it’s a musical again!

The emotion in the drama is not earned at all as every other scene is so flamboyant and transitions unexpectedly. And then it gets really serious and introduces a storyline where Didi, as a lawyer, is representing her friend who is the victim of sexual assault, and the opposing law firm is her father’s firm where she just quit, after accepting the case. The film skips over reality most of the time, so can be a disorienting watch.

It’s a Nigerian production and shot on location in Nigeria and there is some nice scenery with city scapes and beautiful beaches. The two lead actors are both very hot, and the few playful scenes suggest this could be a fun watch with some great music, but Namaste Wahala is mostly insane with a lot of chaotic energy, and bizarre transitions to very serious subject matter.