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(Sep 09, 2005)
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The film tells the story of two young and modern Indians, Nick and Ambar, who have left their homes in India to make a life on their own in Melbourne, Australia. The story follows one year of their lives, dealing with their problems and relationships, from their first meeting at a wedding ceremony, to their decision to move in together without marriage, to their breakup upon discovering that Ambar is pregnant.
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Later that day, at a wedding, Nick and Ambar meet in person for the very first time, but she doesn't know that he's that "Nick" and he, that she's that "Ambar." They find out soon enough, but the spark's been lit. However, they aren't sure if this spark is truly love and they want a chance to get to know each other, so, what do they do? Naturally, they end up living together.
Their cohabitation gives rise to revelations about each other. Ambar, it turns out, loves pizza, doesn't want to marry, yet loves children. Nick is a neat freak and is afraid of hospitals, doctors, and the sight of blood. And he doesn't like kids, dismissing them as "irritating bloody creatures." So imagine his reaction when Ambar gets pregnant.
This is a fun, fun romantic comedy, packed with many genuine laughs. The film follows the Bollywood formula of being breezy and slapsticky in the first half, and more somber and melodramatic after intermission, replete with many shouting matches between Nick and Ambar. But then this film does a nutty thing as it reverts back to madcap comedy in its climactic scenes. Admittedly, the final 15 minutes are a bit off putting and bizarre as we are introduced to the wacky and absent-minded obstetrician, in the form of a pratfalling, bespectacled Abhishek Bachchan. It's better to just go with the flow. It certainly wasn't enough to ruin this movie for me.
I've only seen Preity Zinta in Koi...Mil Gaya and Krrish (where she has a cameo), but she charmed me enough that, immediately after, I purchased a number of her films. I like Preity even more in SALAAM NAMASTE as her vivacious personality really has a chance to come out. She's in perfect sync with leading man and good buddy in real life, Saif Ali Khan. In fact, both leads are simply perfect as they show off their great comic timing; their playful exchanges are very much a treat to watch. Saif himself seems like a pretty cool and funny cat. Of course, their steamy scenes together heat up their chemistry even more. And I kind of enjoyed Jaaved Jaffrey's odd performance as the Indian landlord who walks around in a Crocodile Dundee outfit and tends to mangle proverbs ("Home the sweet's home" & "When in the Rome, do the Romans").
SALAAM NAMASTE is pretty edgy for Bollywood. It steps out of the normal Bollywood boundaries in that it incorporates kissing and actually shows the two leads in bed. Not to mention, there's the storyline of an unmarried couple sharing a house. This film would have had a hard time selling its premise if the story had taken place in India, with disapproving and very traditional minded Indians all over the place. The director, thinking ahead, set the film entirely in Melbourne, Australia, where the folks are drastically more liberal minded. Thus, as a bonus, we're also treated to a multitude of scenic Australian locales.
This film may have "modern values" written all over it, yet by the film's end, it's all about the power of love, family and tradition, which should make everyone happy. However, SALAAM NAMASTE does stand fast in its non-inclusion of parental figures, which I think is darn refreshing in the Bollywood universe. Did I already mention how great and funny Preity and Saif are in their roles? And their exquisite chemistry together? What about the songs? Well, there are only four of them and they're okay. I do like "What's Goin' On?", where an 8-month-pregnant Ambar moonwalks. Another fun bit is the closing credits, for which I suggest you stick around as they come with pretty funny outtakes.
What I have with me is the 2-disc dvd set of SALAAM NAMASTE and I'm glad to have it. Disc 1 has the film presentation. But don't ignore Disc 2, which features "First Impressions" - reactions of several Bollywood celebrities to the film; 12 minutes, 30 seconds worth of outtakes expanded from the closing credits bloopers; the "Making Of" segment (21 minutes, 34 seconds), which consists of Preity and Saif drinking from their coffee mugs and talking relationship and, oh yeah, about the making of the film (and their conversation is mostly in English); 6 minutes of deleted scenes; and the awesome theatrical trailer which has Saif and Preity once again showcasing their easy chemistry as they promote the film (Saif: "Like, what's so different about this one?" Preity: "Well, it's a love story." Saif: "Ooh, that's different.").
Lastly, just what is that cute, tiny red car that Nick drives? I mean, I don't care, but this girl I know is curious (but, really, I don't care).
It is an often serious attempt to look at issues of commitment in a way you don't usually see in Bollywood. There is living together, the shadow of an abortion question etc - even some 'almost bedroom scenes' when the protagonists aren't married. There are the usual unlikely Bollywood elements that I'm happy to live with. I agree with other reviewers who felt the comedy could have been omitted. There is an uncomfortable discordancy in the 2 comic foci - a 'Crocodile Dundee wanna-be Indian' and Abhishek in a cameo role playing over the top slapstick (which he does well but this wasn't the movie to do it in).
The music wasn't that memorable nor the minimal dance scenes. This is more a movie focused on the leads and their dilemmas and their solid acting saves it from mediocrity.
I live in Melbourne, where it was filmed. and appreciate the cinematography that bought a lot of beauty out of the city and its nearby coast and forecasts.
This movie didn't quite hit the high spots for me but they did a reasonable job short of that.