Wednesday, February 01, 2006

because shirts with nonsensical words on them can only solve so many of the world's problems: Salaam Namaste

I have been waiting for months to see Salaam Namaste, ever since it played at the local art theater while I was out of town in October. As we all know, sometimes the longer and more excitedly you wait for something, the less chance it has of living up to your hopes, even if you try really hard not to formulate specific expectations, since you are well aware of the aforementioned inverse proportion.

In general, Salaam Namaste was along the lines of what I had thought it would be, with some extra especially appealing bits sprinkled throughout:

  • textual shirts. There are many to talk about here, but there is one in particular I want to ask about. It's after they've met at the beach and Nick is discussing with his friend whether he should call Ambar, and he's wearing a gray tank top and jeans. The tank top is printed with lots of words, and despite various pauses I could only see, clearly, a few of them, but they included I COULD HAVE CMS, TV IS MY LIFE, and THE PANTY. Kya?!?
  • the fabulous city of Melbourne
  • two endearing best friend/sidekick characters (and I'm not talking about Cathy)
  • the phrase "bring it on" - and it was even used in the very best possible way: as random English stuck in a mostly Hindi song (think MHN's "wicked" and "this party's goin' to town")
  • a rendition of "Autumn Leaves"
  • thoroughly integrated graphic design - if I'm not mistaken, the credits, the subtitles, and the radio station's promotional materials were all in the same font
  • a narrating Bachchan
  • in one of the early "we hate each other" scenes, Saif yelling "Hambarrrr! Hambarrrrr!" and rolling his Rs with gusto. I laughed so hard at that.
For reasons I cannot explain, I also really enjoyed the landlord with the insane accent. At first, before they explained that the character was actually Indian, I thought maybe he was Italian. His choice lines are many: "When in Rome, do the Romans" and, inquiring as to bicycle-riding Ambar's destination, "By the way, where's the goings?"

[spoilers ahead]

But there was a major plot point that surprised me. I had no idea that the main relationship fell apart for months, that there was so much of yelling and pulling down of curtains. Somehow this struck me as poignant (relatively, anyway). When Ambar sat on the patio sobbing I felt really, really sad. We all know what it's like to cry like that - not dainty tears, but sobs that make you get as close to the floor as you can because something you were counting on is suddenly out from under you. And although maybe it's just because in the last 24 hours I've been in as many moods, I find myself nodding along when Nick tried to convince Ambar to give the relationship a go even though the odds were bad, saying "Yeah, man" in a Big Lebowski sort of way. In my head, of course.

What I mean to say is that this movie was not nearly as fluffy as I had thought it would be. There was still fluff - the wedding flirting and the late-night ice cream hunt, for example - but it also struck me in ways I was not expecting. Preity did a great job doing what she usually does (or so it seemed to me), and Saif again took something that could have been cardboard and made it dimensional, with humor and edge and care.

Aside to costume person: I know she's Preity and pretty, but did you have to put a word on her butt? Tacky.

Aside to composers: every time I hear the title song it gets lodged in my head for days, and now it's even worse since I know the pounding, repetitive dance that goes with it. How did you do that? The rest of the music was completely forgettable.

Aside to someone who works out details of script: before I smack you with a quote from your own movie - "their logic switch is permanently off" - I will give you a chance to explain how a med student, who is advanced enough to be in a hospital seeing patients, has time to do a regular radio show, how a Hindi-language station is the most popular station in Melbourne, and how these two characters could possibly have afforded that house, let alone the additional furnishings, fancy tv, etc inside it? I know this happens in sets a lot, but there is a lot of talk about lacking money here, so why didn't you make that cohere?

Aside to readers curious if anyone else has made a website that chronicles Saif's silly shirts in this movie: if your mind runs to the investigative and researchy on topics like this, as mine does, do not, do not, do not google "Salaam Namaste" + panty. You'll be sorry.

12 comments:

Obi Wan said...

The 'landlord with the funny accent' is Jaaved Jaffrey, one of our funniest actors/anchors and dancers. In fact, a lot of people here think that his character took the movie up by a few notches! And his 'egjaktly' has become quite a rage!
I personally liked the 1st half of Salaam Namaste, but found the 2nd half too loose and melodramatic for my taste.

Beth said...

Maybe I'll try to get my friends to say "egjaktly" too. He was very enjoyable.

And I agree wtih you about the halves. That seems to happen a lot. Oh,and I hated that Abhishek doctor.

ads said...

I've been waiting to see this movie, but unfortunately it's still listed as a "long wait" on Netflix. In the meantime maybe I'll try to occupy myself by looking for a "THE PANTY" tank top...

adi said...

what 'obi van' says is quite right. "sorry - wives - egjaktly" is a nation wide rage now, thanks to javed jaffry. his was the only part i liked in the movie. and now pizza hut has an ad based on the same mis-pronounciation featuring who else but javed. egjaktly.
otherwise i felt the movie was a take on the adam sandler kinda movies from hollywood. quite over the top, especially the later half.

Accidental Fame Junkie said...

Ohhhhh! I am really left out here. I haven't - hold your breath- watched Salaam Namaste!

Yet. That is.

Angela G. Skylar said...

so true Beth, the longer you wait the less likelyhood, i felt that way when i saw i see you.

Angela G. Skylar said...

I too laughed longer than usual at the "Humbur" scenes, saif has a thing for comedy!

Mansi said...

Great write-up, Beth!

The experience was totally the opposite with me Beth... I went in with lil expectations, but dint like it anyway..
The second time, however, ((on the theatre again!! - how that happened is another story)) worked for me..
The film has grown on me...
Today, I can see it any number of times (save a few scenes - Abhishek as a doctor is sooo annoying!!)
A breezy entertainer on the whole!

Here's what I thought about the film da
http://eatpraylovemovies.blogspot.com/2010/06/salaam-namaste.html

do share your thoughts!

Cheers!

Mansi said...

And yes, how could I forget Saif! Superb timings, great comedy... he doesn't need to put in too much effort there.. it comes to him pretty naturally.... his humbarrrr was hilarious!! :D ;)

Beth said...

Hi Mansi - Thanks for commenting and sharing your blog! Isn't it wonderful when a film gets better with repeat viewings? I haven't watched this one in a few years but your comments make me want to dig it out. I totally agree with you about Abhishek's little role - so stupid. And yes definitely re: Saif! I haven't seen him in anything for awhile and need to fill in some of my gaps in his filmography. I was just given a copy of Ta Ra Rum Pum and I might have to give it a try solely for the love of Rani and Saif.

Mansi said...

If you like Rani and Saif, you've got to watch Hum Tum... great on screen couple! I louv the film :)

Anonymous said...

Can I recommend the following films : Salaam Bombay, Mannat (Punjabi film), Maachis & Pakistani film "Bol"