Sanyukta Iyer (MUMBAI MIRROR; July 10, 2017)

Ten years after the Akshay Kumar-Katrina Kaif’s inter-continental love story, Namastey London, set the box-office ringing, filmmaker Vipul Amrutlal Shah is prepping to roll with the second instalment, Namastey England, with Arjun Kapoor stepping into Akki’s shoes. And contrary to rumours about a fall out between Vipul and his former leading man, Mirror has learnt that before jumping into Reema Kagti’s sports-drama, Gold, Akki gave a nod to his replacement, excited that a “handsome, commercially successful munda” like Arjun will take the hit franchise forward.

A source told Mirror that Arjun, who has watched the original multiple times, loved the script and the cultural conflict it presented, reminiscent of the original but better. “Arjun was keen because the franchise provides a unique perspective on how Indians are looked at internationally and vice versa. But he wanted to make sure that Akshay had no problems about the franchise moving forward without him, before signing on the dotted line. Last month, Akshay and Vipul who have been close friends and have collaborated on a dozen films over the last two decades, mutually agreed to go ahead with Arjun. The film will roll early 2018 and like the original, will be shot in Punjab and the UK,” the source says.

Namastey London took off with Indian-born-London-based Manmohan Malhotra, played by Rishi Kapoor, wanting to marry off his daughter Jasmeet aka Jazz to a Punjabi from his hometown. Arjun Singh, played by Akki, the chosen groom, however discovers after the saat pheras that Jazz has a royal Brit in her life and doesn’t want a desi husband in the frame. The film reflected the cultural conflict NRI parents faced with their children and was widely applauded at home and abroad. “The second film too has been scripted in a manner to appeal to expats and has a Punjabi and Brit flavour,” informs the source, adding that like it was for Katrina, the role of the actress in Namastey England too is a career-defining one. “She’s an ambitious Punjabi, who’s fascinated by the glitz and glamour and wants to move to UK while Arjun’s character, a mischievous desi Romeo, is rooted in his land and culture like the original Arjun Singh. His character will be quite quirky this time around.”

Though it’s the love story of a young couple, it will feature another leading lady in a relatively smaller appearance. Meanwhile, Arjun, whose next film, Mubarakan, is up for release this month, will start filming Dibakar Banerjee’s romancethriller, Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar, which reunites him with his Ishaqzaade co-star Parineeti Chopra. Buzz is, Parineeti has been approached for Namastey England too. So we’ll just have to wait and watch if Vipul will bring the hit couple back together for a hat-trick.