A generation of Nigerians grew up watching Bollywood films. Those people quickly embraced Zee World when it was launched. So, it was about time a Nollywood-Bollywood collaboration happened. “Namaste Wahala” was produced, written and directed by Hamisha Daryani Ahuja on her directorial debut with Jude “MI” Abaga of Chocolate City serving as associate director.
The romantic comedy was initially billed for theatrical release in 2020 but it’s release was delayed due to the pandemic and consequent lockdown. Consequently, it made its way to Netflix. But unfortunately, this first Bollywood-Nollywood collaboration fell below expectations. Putting it plainly, it is one of those films you would beat yourself up for if you had paid to see it at a cinema.
“In Namaste Wahala,” Chidinma “Didi” (Ini Dima-Okojie), a Nigerian lawyer, and Rajesh “Raj” (Ruslaan Mumtaz), an Indian investment banker, bump into each other during their morning run. It is love at first sight but they have to convince their parents to accept the relationship. Sadly, “Namaste Wahala” is a victim of poor storytelling majorly, as the story lacks a build-up and leaves nothing for one to anticipate.
The focus on the feud between Didi and her father Ernest (Richard Mofe-Damijo) watered down the story of the challenges an interracial couple faces in Nigeria. More so, an Indo-Nigerian couple despite how much Nigerians have seemingly embraced India for decades – from its entertainment to its people living and providing employment in Nigeria and medical tourism. Even when Didi tries to convince her parents who themselves have made an an inter-tribal marriage work, to them it is not the same as marrying an “Oyinbo.”
“Namaste Wahala” starts off a bore and is slow plodding until the third act when Raj’s mother Meera (Sujata Sehgal) came on the scene. First off, Brodda Shaggi, the taxi driver who picked Meera from the airport, gives the much needed comic relief. He is the typical Lagos obnoxious yellow taxi driver. He is rude, his car seat belts are dysfunctional. And he advises his passenger to make do with them because he doesn’t want to get on the wrong side of the law, yet he is driving with one hand and receiving a call on the other. But Meera is his match. Equally loud-mouthed and can’t be bullied. The over-bearing Meera would eventually face-off with Didi’s mother Shola (Joke Silva). We’ve seen many mother-in-laws like Meera on Zee World and it’s the drama they bring that have made Zee World extremely popular among Nigerians.
The producers also attempt product placements. It worked well until Raj and Didi agree to go and drink away their sorrows. Who drinks away their sorrows with Coke? So in the end, the joy of “Namaste Wahala” are the parents on either side, especially Meera.
Cast also includes: Chemeka “Frodd” Okoye, Hamisha Daryani Ahuja, Frodd, Ibrahim Suleima, Imoh Eboh and Osas Ighodaro