I may be a little biased in my review of Namaste Wahala simply because I love Bollywood movies and Namaste Wahala is the Nollywood/Bollywood crossover we did not know we needed. I must admit, I had high expectations from the moment I found out about the film. I was so excited when I finally got to watch it and I must confess that I was not in the least bit disappointed after watching it. Although, certain additions to thicken the plot and storyline were very unexpected and unnecessary, in my opinion.
The story follows Didi (Ini Dima-Okojie) and Raj (Ruslaan Mumtaz), two Lagos based individuals from different cultural backgrounds as they navigate interracial dating, parental expectations when it comes to love and career and of course the Nigerian patriarch’s desire for an heir.
The film opens with a montage of the cosmopolitan city of Lagos and as someone who has lived in Lagos my whole life, I love seeing the city romanticized and glamorized in movies, television shows and books. I love how the script is very particular in making mention of hotspots here in Lagos like Shiro and Hardrock Café. Now, any time I go to these places, I will certainly feel different like I was a part of the film. The opening scene transitions to both Didi and Raj taking an early morning run on the beach when they collide in a dramatic scene that depicts love at first sight *cue fireworks*. I loved how dramatic and cliché their meeting was. It is very typical of Bollywood movies, and the awkwardness of Didi and Raj’s encounter had me laughing out loud.
Not long after their encounter, Didi’s dad with whom she has an estranged relationship starts asking for a son-in-law and is set on matchmaking her with one of his employees which raises the question, does matchmaking still have a place in our modern-day Nigerian society? Right from the get-go, we see Raj as a man with a plan; an investment banker who is not afraid to make his intentions known, plus it is hard not to fall in love with his innocence and naivety when it comes to women and our Nigerian culture. Didi on the other hand is a passionate lawyer looking to use her degree to make a difference in the lives of women and works full-time in a Non-governmental organization that is aimed at protecting women and keeping them off the streets. Her father is evidently displeased with her career choices. He expected her to follow in his footsteps of corporate law and this is the biggest source of their contention. Raj and Didi could not be any more different, but when sparks fly, could it all blow up in their faces?
The couple commence their rendezvous with a little bit of singing and dancing, which caught me off-guard because I have never imagined singing and choreographed dance moves in a Nollywood film but truth be told, the songs were very catchy and I even found myself dancing along. Reality strikes this couple out of their “honeymoon phase” when Raj asks to meet Didi’s parents and for the first time their racial differences become glaring to them. There is a popular saying that love is love regardless of the skin color and ethnic backgrounds but Didi’s parents were not having it at all. While I partly blame Didi for not informing her parents beforehand of Raj’s ethnicity, I believe regardless of their reserves and concerns they could have held it together for the sake of being polite.
When Raj’s mum, Meera (Sujata Sehgal) decides to pay him a surprise visit all the way from India, tensions escalate as Meera disapproves of her son’s intention of marrying a Nigerian woman. With the whole world seemingly against their union, Didi and Raj face internal battles of whether their love is strong enough to withstand their family’s disapproval. My absolute favorite scene from the movie must be Meera bargaining with the Taxi driver (Broda Shaggi). I laughed so hard I was in tears and I loved how it showed the similarities between mothers. Regardless of whether they are Nigerian or from a foreign country, they will always look out for the best deals.
The film also raises awareness and emphasizes fighting for the rights of women as well as protecting them from any form of abuse as Didi fights for justice in the case of one of the NGO’s clients Versus a Lagos big boy from an affluent family whose father happens to be Didi’s father’s biggest client. One lawsuit and tampered evidence later, Didi and her father face off in an Alternate Dispute Resolution with conflicting interests which leads Didi to question everything she knew about her family’s values, her relationship with Raj and her profession as a lawyer. This leaves us wondering, can there truly be love without war?
Namaste Wahala is a niche movie. Since its release on Valentine’s Day, the film has gotten a lot of mixed reviews but overall, I absolutely loved it and will be rewatching it. From the superb acting to celebrity guest appearances, Namaste Wahala is just the film for you and your girlfriend’s sleepover. A must see in my books!