When Katrina Kaif said she was packing her bags, leaving Bollywood ahead of Namastey London release

Hard as it is to believe, it has been 15 long years since Katrina Kaif and Akshay Kumar-starrer Namastey London was released in cinemas. Namastey London is special for more than one reason.

Not only the Vipul Shah directorial drew everyone’s attention to leading lady Katrina’s acting chops, it also kickstarted comedian and actor Vir Das’ film career. The movie was received positively upon its release, and included names like the late Rishi Kapoor in its star cast.

During an earlier appearance on Karan Johar’s chat show Koffee With Karan, Kaif had said she was nervous about the movie’s reception as she saw herself dominating most of the screen time. It should be noted that up until this film’s release, Katrina was mostly considered a pretty face in Bollywood, who was included in the cast to add beauty and glamour. “I just saw too much of me in the film and you start believing what people say,” the actor had said.

In fact, Katrina was so sure of Namastey London’s failure that she wanted to leave the city before the doomsday came knocking on the door. “I am packing my bags and I am going to find a new career,” Katrina had said that this is what she intended to do after having attended the film’s screening. But when the movie turned out to be a major success critically as well as commercially, she was pleasantly surprised. “That was really nice, it was really important for me because I think it did change people’s perception. It was the first time I got so many calls even from the industry, from directors saying, ‘I think you did pretty well in the movie’.”

As mentioned earlier, Namastey London turned out to be a milestone not just in Katrina’s career, but in beloved comedian Vir Das’ career as well. In a previous interview with indianexpress.com, Das had spoken about how enamoured he was of the legendary Rishi Kapoor during shoot. They had shared screen space in a noteworthy sequence of the film.

“I was the biggest Rishi Kapoor fan so just shooting with Rishi Kapoor was a dream come true for me. I have watched Karz almost 100 times. If you remember, I was one of three grooms so I did not think it would have any sort of impact but it kind of, in a small way, kickstarted my film career. I had no intention of getting into movies or acting at that moment. I was very happy being just a comic but it kind of sent me down a new road,” Vir said.

Upon Kapoor’s death, Das had paid him a heartwarming tribute on social media, remembering the time they had spent together on the sets of Namastey London: “First film. I was a junior artist in Namastey London. I was so excited, I was going to get to be in a scene with Rishi Kapoor. At the end, when it was all done, he could see I was a little disheartened. He grabbed my hand and asked my name. He said ‘You need to keep acting, you understand? Don’t stop’. I was so nervous, and so exhilarated. He did not have to do that for a junior artist. He did not have to do that for anyone. He was Rishi Kapoor. He shook my hand, and took a second to be nice. Small acts from big people can sometimes be big moments for small people…I just wanted to say thank you for shaking my hand. You really did change my life.”

Written by Suresh Nair with dialogues by Ritesh Shah, Namastey London was helmed and bankrolled by Vipul Shah. Its music was composed by Himesh Reshammiya. The film released in 2007.


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