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Bollywood actors Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra will dissect love and marriage in all its messy glory in their latest relationship drama, Namaste England, out in the UAE on October 18.

The good-looking pair, who made their debut in the star-crossed honour killing tragedy Ishaaqzaade, join hands once again to play a married couple Parma (Kapoor) and Jasmeet (Chopra) who are figuring out how to stay happy together. Jasmeet isn’t happy in her husband’s native place and takes off to England to pursue her dreams.

“There’s a saying in Hindi that goes: ‘Pyaar karna aasaan hota hai, nibhana mushkil hai’ [it’s easy to fall in love, but difficult to fulfil what comes with it … Our message is simple: pursue love, no matter what the complication,” said Kapoor in an interview with Gulf News tabloid!

Directed by Vipul Shah, this sequel to the 2007 Namaste London has unrelated storylines to the original and chronicles the Punjabi bloke Parma’s pursuits as he follows his estranged wife to England to figure out why she loves that country so much.

“She’s not having an affair with another man, but her affair is with a place!” said Kapoor, alluding that the city signifies freedom and ambition for his better half.

Excerpts from our interview with Kapoor as he gets ready to woo us with his new romance…

What is director Vipul Shah’s Namaste England all about?

What’s exciting about this film is that Namaste England begins where most Bollywood romances end. In most Hindi films, we aim for happily-ever-after endings in which two people fight to get married and settle down so that they can get their happy endings.

But here in Namaste England, the boy and girl get married, and that’s the starting point. A conflict ensues right after their marriage. They live in a traditional set-up, but they are gripped with the modern reality that you needn’t always have a happily-ever-after ending after your wedding and that things can change or get questioned. I found that fascinating. Parineeti’s character takes the issue by the scruff of the neck, makes a few decisions and pursues her dreams. He follows her and they find themselves in this bizarre love triangle between a city, a man and a woman.

Going by your recent films, you have this penchant for falling in love with challenging women who push you to step up. Do you agree that you love a bit of drama when it comes to your love?

Yes, subconsciously I am aware of it and you just brought it to the fore [laughs]. Maybe that is an inherent personality trait of mine that I am somebody who doesn’t shy away from challenges. A love story needs genuine two-actor back and forth. In today’s age, having one of the actors play a stronger role in a couple equation doesn’t work. Namastey England has two lead characters that are well-written. They are distinct entities and their conflicts are unique to them. The era of love stories where the boy is rich and the girl is poor or vile parents resisting their union is no longer relevant. We have moved beyond that.

True, they say that a wedding is easier to pull off, but not a marriage. Do you think Namaste England addresses that?

Our generation is all about running away from problems and not facing them head on. So when the moments get tough, we run as fast as we can. The message behind Namaste England is simple: pursue love, no matter what the complication.

You have become this face of a changing Bollywood hero where you are not confining yourself to the patriarchal narrative of man being the provider or the stronger one. You seem to wear your vulnerabilities on your sleeve …

I would like to believe that I have added my two cents to what you just said. Plus, I have been offered those kind of films because somewhere down the line everyone sees my vulnerable side even though I have carved a tough, action-hero image too. I am very happy that I have been gifted such a range and that allows me to pick and choose which gives me a weird kind of freedom. I do not support the patriarchal thought process and I have been vocal about how I perceive my opposite sex or the roles that they play. In my first film Ishaqzaade, Parineeti had a very strong role and as an actor you thrive in the excitement of working with other fellow actors. I don’t get insecure or worried about what they bring to the table.

How did you ensure that your role as Param didn’t come across as a pushover husband?

When you see the film, you will realise that Param doesn’t coerce Jasmeet into returning to Punjab. He follows her to the city that she has fallen in love with. But at no point does he say: ‘come back or I love you so much that you have to make me happy by returning’. I reach there to find out why she loves that city so much. What made me ballistic was that realisation that she isn’t having an affair with another man, but with England. So he decides to live there to find out more about it. He is not going to turn on her. All he wants to do is make her realise that it isn’t about where a couple stays, but it is about who you are with in that place.

That’s a very romantic thought. So does Namaste England have the potential to be a cult romance …. Or are we being ambitious?

The intent of this film was to make a family date film — no more no less. This is a simple film. We live in such chaotic times that many tend to respond to simple films. About me being the go-to choice for perfect, perhaps it’s my films like Two States and Ki & Ka that gives you that impression. But your opinion might change after you see me in my future films like India’s Most Wanted and Panipat … Maybe that good-guy persona stems from me being around women in my own life without feeling apprehensive.

Don’t Miss It!

Namaste London is out in the UAE on October 18.

Quote/Unquote:

“Anonymity might not allow justice to be served … But it’s not easy to speak out after … But [the] #MeToo movement should be allowed to come out. Right now, it is not the time share our opinions. We have to respect the movement …. I am in no position to say anything [about not working with sexual offenders in future]. I want to assimilate and allow all the information to seep in. Let there be a rational inquiry. We will eventually come to a consensus as an industry,” said Arjun Kapoor on the #MeToo movement gaining momentum in Bollywood.