Note – Scroll to the bottom if you prefer an audio review and listen to the podcast version

The cross-cultural film ‘Namaste Wahala’ written and made by debutant director Hamisha Daryani Ahuja feels like an out and out Bollywood film from the 1990s. Sample the opening scene – a woman bumps into a man by the beach, they stare into each other’s eyes and it’s ‘love at first sight’. The boy decides she is the girl he wants to marry. Not even kidding, just watch the trailer if you haven’t.

The movie is set in Nigeria and the hero is an Indian investment banker called Raj (Ruslaan Mumtaz) who woos Nigerian lawyer Didi (Ini Dima Okojie). The two date for three months and Raj insists that he meet his girlfriend’s parents. The couple soon faces a mighty challenge – to convince their parents to agree to their marriage, because neither family is thrilled about their kid marrying somebody who is not of their nationality. The parents are blindingly prejudiced and mean for most part of the film.

While it’s a romantic comedy, there is a small sub-plot in the film about Didi fighting a case to get justice for a woman who was brutally assaulted by a rich brat, and that bit was far more interesting than her romantic life. The movie is slightly funny, but has an overtly dramatic background score, which seems straight out an Indian television drama from the early 2000s. Despite being classified under the ‘African Movies’ genre on Netflix, ‘Namaste Wahala’ is as Indian as Indian movies get.

The support cast that played Raj and Didi’s friends were more fun than the lead actors, although Ruslaan Mumtaz and Ini Dima Okojie play their roles quite earnestly. And the actor who plays Raj’s father cannot act to save his life. Despite having a lot of potential to be a super fun family film, it’s very mediocre because of the lazy script-writing. Some of the comedy scenes are too fake and contrived. Also, I usually don’t have anything to say about the costumes in a movie, but some of the stuff that the actors wear in this film was way too flashy/loud.

If director Hamisha Daryani was aiming at making a parody Bollywood film, she has nailed it, but if this was a serious attempt at a romantic comedy, than it’s pretty disappointing. ‘Namaste Wahala’ is the sort of no-brainer comedy that you can only watch with a bunch of friends and have a laugh at. It’s a 5/10 from me.

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