Written by St.
Namaste wahala is a Nollywood cross-racial dramatic comedy by director Hamisha Daryani Ahuja for Netflix. The story is pretty simple and familiar but interwoven with very timely questions that address sentimental biases.
On one side of the game, we meet a Nigerian family forced into an ungainly dance with an Indian family after their daughter falls in love with our protagonist, the dashing Rajesh. Simple right? Not quite. At the same time, we are confronted with issues of family and integrity. At these two junctions, we are tasked with addressing intention and sacrifice:
Intention – At each point in the lives of our characters we are faced with boggling questions, what is the intent behind this action? What does Didi’s father have to benefit from her marrying the man of his choice? What are Rajesh’s mother benefits from insisting her son marry an Indian woman?
Sacrifice – The theme of sacrifice is immediately confronted once our lovebirds come in contact with each other. Is your love for this person worth your family? Is your need to win worth turning a blind eye to dishonesty? How far are you willing to go for love and truth?
At the bottom of the conflicts driving these discourse is the issue of culture. Culture, simply put, is the way of life of a people. To question culture is to question socialization and society and get smacked with harsh reality of the condition of society. Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is widely known for questioning societal dictates; one common phrase is – ‘if something is not our culture then we should make it our culture… the people make the culture not the other way round’, to quote her loosely. The parents of both parties will do anything to hold on to cultural normalcy.
With Namaste Wahala as you can already tell, love wins again. When does love not win? This will be a topic of its own. The families involved make up and sing kumbaya in a wedding scene as magical and sweet as can be. However, Namaste Wahala has its wahala. Lots of it.
The script is heavily flawed. Heavily because subjects critics have addressed in many film reviews and essays rear their heads again. Why are there no back stories to the characters? We do not understand them or get the base of their life choices. They are not humanized enough to justify them. We met our characters straight away in the most cliché and cringe-worthy way possible and from there, they just go off like cannonballs.
What is that music? The theme-music is completely unnecessary and problematic to the progress (we think) Nollywood has made. The fact that the story needs a song featuring the title is an anchor pulling down an already struggling film. The Bollywood sequence at the beach is unnecessary and almost stereotypical. The less said about the choreography, the better.
To compensate for the lack of back stories that should aid relatability, the poor characters are hit with a torrent of events that quickly catches them adrift. The idea of humanizing your character is not to overwhelm every character in the movie with random attacks from every and anything. Beating these strangers into submission is not the way to make us empathize with them. No, we know better, you can do better.
What does the movie do right? The characters and their respective cultures are highlighted, enough to avoid them becoming caricatures. This is essential and progressive. There is a blend and even the distinctiveness of the cultures are highlighted to not offend. The accents are perfect and the stories are familiar especially the biases.
The biggest step is casting. There are familiar faces but not a recycled cast. It is very necessary to applaud this because of the lack of opportunity for new talents in Nollywood, a sour grape that never stops giving.
The important thing is that Namaste Wahala is a rather endurable watch but at the end of it all, it’s just another love story with its flaws.
Watch the trailer here:
St. is a graduate of Mass Communication (Diploma) and English and Literature Art (Bachelors Degree). Also a copy / UX writer, he has big dreams of becoming a voice in the media and starting a production company to re-evaluate the standards of entertainment in Nollywood.