Namaste Wahala is a 2020 Nigerian cross-cultural romantic comedy film produced and written by Hamisha Daryani Ahuja in her directorial debut and starring Ruslaan Mumtaz and Ini Dima-Okojie in the lead roles.
Hailed as the first major collaboration between Nollywood and Bollywood, two of the biggest film industries in the world, the movie is based on a romantic relationship between a Nigerian woman and an Indian man, despite their disparate cultures and backgrounds. It received mixed to positive reviews from critics in its theatrical release.
Namaste Wahala Movie
Namaste Wahala, which roughly translates to mean Hello Trouble, is the brainchild of Hamisha Daryani Ahuja, an Indian-Nigerian businesswoman turned filmmaker. Ahuja, who lived in Nigeria since childhood despite being Indian, revealed in an interview with CNN that she wanted to make a film that combined the elements of both the Nollywood and Bollywood movie industries and used her own experiences living in Nigeria to create the love story. In addition to directing, she also plays a supporting role in the film as her acting debut.
Despite being saluted as the first major collaboration between Nollywood and Bollywood, it became the second movie after 2017’s J.U.D.E. that saw both industries working together. Its script was predominantly in English, along with Nigerian Pidgin and Hindi, and portions of the film were entirely shot in Lagos, with a production team of more than 60 people across Nigeria and India.
Namaste Wahala was officially announced in February 2020 with a first-look poster released by Ahuja on her Instagram page, and it soon became one of the most hyped and highly anticipated film releases in Nigeria.
Namaste Wahala Plot
Raj is an Indian-born investment banker who lives in Lagos and falls in love with Didi, a Nigerian lawyer who volunteers at her friend Leila’s NGO. However, due to Didi’s father, Ernest’s preference for his employee Somto as a suitor for his daughter, the couple attempt to keep their relationship a secret. Ernest also disapproves of Didi’s commitment to the NGO instead of his powerful law firm. After three months of dating, Didi introduces Raj to her family, who are shocked when they realize he is Indian, a detail that Didi had left out beforehand.
When one of her fellow NGO workers, Jane, is physically assaulted by Raymond, the son of one of Ernest’s major clients, Didi goes on the warpath to seek justice for her, as far as resigning from her father’s firm when he reminds her of his business ties with Raymond’s family and tells her to drop the case. Represented by Preemo, Didi’s dishonest nemesis who covets a superior position in Ernest’s firm, Raymond denies having attacked Jane and instead claims that she attempted to murder him in a hotel corridor instead.
Unfortunately, the only evidence pointing to Jane’s innocence has disappeared after Preemo destroyed the CCTV footage. Furious, Didi leaves her family home for Raj’s apartment, but not before she lambasts her father for choosing monetary gain over moral principles.
Raj’s mother, during a visit to Nigeria, is horrified upon meeting Didi and opposes the relationship due to cultural differences, and although she reluctantly agrees to stay in Raj’s apartment with him and Didi for the duration of her visit, she remains hostile. Didi’s mother, Shola, wishes for her daughter to return home, but a stubborn Ernest refuses to budge.
After one of Didi’s friends reveals her location, Shola storms Raj’s apartment, where a war of words ensues between her and Meera, however, both women agree upon their disapproval of their children living together, and Shola leaves with Didi, who continues to pine for Raj, with the latter also determined to marry his one true love.
Didi returns to the hotel determined to prove Jane’s innocence and asks the hotel manager, Tarun, for assistance. The manager is at first uncooperative, but upon learning that she is Raj’s girlfriend, he directs her to the security staff, who release the missing CCTV footage. When Ernest realises that Jane is telling the truth, he agrees to Didi’s demand that Raymond should pay an out-of-court settlement and sacks Preemo for attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Shola still tries to discourage Didi from marrying Raj, arguing that her in-laws will never truly accept her until Didi reminds her mother of her inter-tribal heritage (Shola and Ernest are Yoruba and Igbo, respectively) and how they weathered their respective families’ opposition.
Meera remains unconvinced as she believes that Didi would never adjust to Indian culture, but Didi’s friend Leila, who is also Raj’s cousin, tells her aunt that Indian and Nigerian women are similar in several ways. Meera finally capitulates, and she and Raj visit Didi’s parents laden with gifts. A grumpy Ernest still believes Somto would be an appropriate son-in-law. Still, Meera argues that Didi is smart and hardworking enough to secure his legacy, and he eventually accepts Raj.
The movie ends with Raj and Didi’s families and well-wishers attending their Indian-themed wedding ceremony held in Nigeria. A post-credits scene also shows Ernest and Meera arguing over whether Didi should pay the dowry or Raj’s family the bride price.
Namaste Wahala Cast
- Ruslaan Mumtaz – Raj, an Indian investment banker who falls in love with Didi.
- Ini Dima-Okojie – Didi, a Nigerian lawyer who falls in love with Raj, an Indian.
- Richard Mofe-Damijo – Ernest, Didi’s father and a powerful lawyer.
- Joke Silva – Shola, Didi’s mother.
- Sujata Sehgal – Meera, Raj’s mother who initially disapproves of their relationship.
- Hamisha Daryani Ahuja – Leila, Didi’s friend and Raj’s cousin.
- Osas Ighodaro – Preemo, Didi’s nemesis and an ambitious lawyer.
- Chukwuemeka Okoye – Raymond, Preemo’s client.
- Imoh Eboh – Jane, Didi’s NGO colleague who is physically assaulted by Raymond.
- Sailesh Ahuja – Tarun, hotel manager.
- Ibrahim Suleiman – Somto, Ernest’s employee.
- Broda Shaggi – a Taxi driver.
Namaste Wahala Release and Reception
The film’s theatrical release was initially supposed to be on April 24, 2020, but was pushed back to October 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was again postponed and finally received a low-profile theatrical release in Nigeria with limited seating capacity on December 1, 2020.
Despite receiving mostly positive reviews from Nigerian critics, it received a 2.5 out of 5 stars rating from the Times of India, who said that the film is just an average rom-com film with an Indo-Nigerian twist.
Namaste Wahala on Netflix
Netflix unveiled the trailer for the film on 31 January 2021, confirming that it would be released as a global Netflix original on February 14, 2021, coinciding with Valentine’s Day.