Friday, January 20, 2006

Salaam Namaste


Salaam Namaste is a fun film. It takes some old sentiments but presents them in a new scenario and through a fun, loveable couple, making the film seem hip and fresh.

The film is completely set in Melbourne. Saif, a head chef at a restaurant, and Preity, the RJ for the popular Salaam Namaste show, start off on the wrong foot. But there are sparks when they meet (first without realizing each other’s identity) and this leads them to move in together as sort of a test drive before the real thing – marriage. But Preity gets pregnant, leading to a rift between them.

Salaam Namaste feels like a 2 ½ hour-long American sitcom. In fact, there are quite a few scenes (like Saif and Arshad leaning back contentedly in their big leather chairs with a big “Aaaaah”, a la Chandler and Joey in Friends), that seem like knowing nods to the American TV staple. But I say that in a good way though. The sentiments and the crudeness and the physical comedy do get in the way at times but the film never abandons its sense of fun.

The movie’s setting, the lifestyles of the lead pair, the wacky supporting characters – all these point to an attempt to make the film seem like a fantasy. But ironically, the film’s appeal lies in the fact that it seems surprisingly real. The relationship between Saif and Preity is developed naturally and their conversations, like the one they have before they move in together, are practical and sane. They never get overly sentimental or melodramatic except in situations where it seems completely natural. We enjoy the film primarily because they are a fun couple, whether they are in each other’s hearts or at each other’s throats.

Saif (to a coworker at his restaurant): So how is life with children?
Co-worker: Its hell! They are always crying and I get no sleep.
Saif: So marrying and having children is a bad idea right?
Co-worker: But there are times when they grab your finger or smile at you, when it all seems worth it.

I know I am biased but a film that features a conversation like the one above cannot be bad! That conversation pretty much captures the essence of life with children beautifully and that kind of sentiment makes Saif’s conversion from baby-hater to expectant-dad very sweet and believable. Sure there are a whole bunch of corny moments but they are done nicely.

What is it with Saif and over-the-top climaxes?! After being sweet and funny for the most part, the movie goes into slapstick mode for the climax that includes a cameo by Abishek Bachan as a clueless doctor. The slickness of the proceedings so far goes out the window as the characters shout and fall and bump into each other and do everything that would be right at home in a David Dhawan comedy. In other words, the movie goes through the exact transformation that Michael Madana Kamarajan did in the climax. I didn’t like it then and I didn’t like it now.

Saif, who's had a strong year, creates a likeable character. He's got good comic timing and puts it to good use. He gets it just right in the scene where he feigns surprise over an ice-cream store being closed and its hilarious. Preity looks a bit old but matches Saif step for step otherwise. She crackles when fighting with him and gets the misty-eyed look just right too. Javed Jaffrey is an absolute riot. As an Indian-hating, outback dude, he brings down the house in each scene he is in. His broken English absolutely hilarious and its solely due to his performance that the whole "Sorry? Egjactly" routine doesn't get tiring even the 10th time it is repeated.

14 Comments:

At 5:09 AM, Anonymous b a l a j i said...

Fair comment....I liked the movie enough to watch it twice.

 
At 6:14 AM, Blogger Munimma said...

have you seen nine months (Hugh Grant)?

 
At 9:49 AM, Blogger Vidya said...

'Nine months' was more natural.. and robbie williams as the doc was hilarious.. I got bad reviews from friends who watched SN.. But yours doesnt look all that bad.. and nine months can be watched for Hugh Grant if not for anything else (drool)

 
At 10:26 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

balaji, me too. and while javed jaffrey is a big reason for that, there r quite a few other reasons too :)

munimma, yes. but too long ago to keep comparing SN to that in every scene :)

vidya, yeah i've heard both extremes of reviews too. but i liked it a lot until the climax - both the funny and the sentimental portions. one of the few chick flicks both my wife and me liked equally i think :)

abishek is absolutely no match for robin williams. i thot the slapstick climax in NM fit into the tone of the movie which had a lot of slapstick scenes earlier too(like the barney beating, pie in the face, etc.) but here the slapstick nature of the climax seemed to be a misfit considering the tone of the rest of the movie.

 
At 4:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't seen Salaam Namaste. The Saif factor puts me off, though I might now catch it for Preity.

Balaji,
I loved the ending of MMKR. Of course, I was just a little kid back then, and loved comedy than anything else in Tamil films. I don't like Kamal, and have only a hand full of films I like from him. MMKR(comedy) is at the top, along with Salangai Oli(drama). I don't like his other comedies much, or films. So personally, I would show MMKR to anyone who wants me to show them the funniest Tamil flick. And maybe Kalyana Galatta(Sivaji) comes next to MMKR.


-Kajan

 
At 8:33 PM, Anonymous F e r r a r i said...

The climax was very bad Balaji, and it let down the movie badly. They made pregnancy look too damn vulgar!

 
At 6:34 AM, Blogger TamilPonnu said...

I'd watch just the comedy clip of Javed Jaffrey - I think he did a great job!! LOVED him in this movie.

 
At 9:10 AM, Blogger mitr_bayarea said...

Balaji-

I had posted a blog on this movie a while ago, as a cross between cultures, really enjoyed watching this for Saif and Preity plus Javed
Jaffrey. Definitely a pep up movie for today's youth.

 
At 9:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Balaji,

I really liked priti zinta in this movie.

Good movie to watch to keep you laughing till the end.

 
At 5:38 AM, Anonymous NH said...

a few good words about arshad warsi would not have hurt! i thought he rocked (not as much as javed jaffery though). The conversation about women and "logic" had me splits for quite a while (much to the chagrin of my wife!) and the way he delivered it was amazing

 
At 3:15 PM, Anonymous ram said...

usually i try to stay away from saettu cinema as much as possible...i've been pleasantly surprised with quite a few films in the past 12 months...i took your word and checked out SN...wasnt disappointed...

the first half was breezy...the second half had just the right amt of sentiment...and when things got a lil'l corny, saif's performance rescued those scenes...and, totally, totally agree with u abt the 'sorry? egg-jactly' routine...hilarious...and the climax-- sodhappppppee...

btw, here's a comment that mite be weird coming from a guy (!) but i thought that Preity's prosthetic tummy was hilariously fake...u guys didnt notice anything, is it?

 
At 5:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it true, the movie was inspired from "Harry met Sally" of T Hanks and M Ryan,
I liked the movie , Hindi movies in the last 1 or two years have been good in slapstick comedies,
Arshad Warsi' timing of dialogues and expressions are damn too good, rememeber the "jennifer" sequence near bus stop, and subsequent conversation between him and Saif, "fourty dollars", hilarious just because the timing , J Jaffrey was great too,

 
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