First time director Hamisha Daryani-Ahuja is winning the fans’ hearts with the Netflix film Namaste Wahala. In what is an unusual concept, Netflix’s Valentine’s Day release was a love story of an Indian guy and a Nigerian woman. The movie brings forth the differences as well as the colorful similarities between Nigerian and Indian culture. Starring Ini Dima-Okojie and Ruslaan Mumtaz, it is a story of two people who fight to be together even though everything doesn’t seem to be going their way. Namaste Wahala is going to be filled with all the elements of a quintessential rom-com, including drama of course. Namaste Wahala is written, directed and produced by debutante Hamisha Daryani Ahuja, who also stars in the film. This Friday we speak to her about Namaste Wahala, her biggest stroke of luck since the movie and much more!
How does it feel to be the first woman to bridge the gap between Nollywood and Bollywood with Namaste Wahala?
It feels absolutely wonderful, I am so privileged and grateful to be in this position, to be able to tell this story. It is really exciting to bring these two cultures together. Being an Indian living in Nigeria I feel blessed to tell this story to the world.
You’re a Nigerian based entrepreneur and filmmaker, tell us, why film making? How did you delve into this field?
I have been running a restaurant in Nigeria for the past 7 years and was also teaching a course called Pursuit of Happiness as I am a motivational speaker and a self-development coach. I train companies on living a happier and better life. In one of my teachings dreaming big and going after what you want in life is very important. I live by the moto “YOLO” (You only live once) so my restaurant got acquired by an entertainment company and we became partners where I did not have to run the restaurant anymore and I am a silent partner and serve on the board and that left me free to jump on my big dream on entering the film industry and that’s just what I did. Bollywood is also very popular in Nigeria. People here love Bollywood drama from the Zee shows to the Bollywood movies. With Nollywood doing so well and it is so vibrant, I decided to marry these two cultures and see what we get.
What has your biggest stroke of luck since Namaste Wahala?
Having a global release on the biggest entertainment company in the world. Sometimes you go through up’s and down’s and it was unfortunate because we wanted to release this movie in the cinema in April and we were all set to do that. Then the pandemic hit and it has been a really tough time for all of us in the whole world. Sometimes these negative things happen and some silver lining comes out. We had to wait and watch and postpone and we finally reached a point and it made sense to go down the OTT platform route and who would’ve thought we would be getting a global release on Valentines Day for the whole world to see this passion project
You are an Indian living in Nigeria. Has this in any way influenced your approach to life, movies and entrepreneurship?
100%! An Indian living in Nigeria is probably the biggest influence. I moved all around the world but Nigeria is my route. I call Lagos home even more than India. I have been brought up in an Indian household so I’m Indian as my core but home is Nigeria. These two perspectives put me in a position to be in this situation today to tell a story about the two cultures and to tell it as it is. We are so similar, we have such deep-rooted traditions and values. Both of them are such beautiful cultures and I am so excited to be here. Of course, everything I have done is it entrepreneurship, movies and everything else has played a big part of my childhood being in this country as well as the last 11 years. I moved here 11 years ago and I haven’t looked back ever since.
What advice do you have for any young aspirants, directors, actors and scriptwriters?
What I said earlier and from my own advice and core- Please just jump! You do not know what is going to happen but we have one life and why aren’t we running to our biggest dreams. I love that quote! I do understand that lives out there can be tough but even if you can do one thing a day that moves you closer to your goals and it doesn’t mean quitting your job or stopping what you are doing in real life but let your dream stay alive.
What are three things you are most grateful for this Friday?
I am so grateful that we are trending in so many countries in the world. I dreamed big but did not dream this big that not only with the movie release on Netflix which is the biggest entertainment company that it will be trending and doing received so well. I am so blessed, touched and grateful for that. I am also grateful for my wonderful family. I have so much love and support around me. I am also grateful for Friday, 19th February and it’s my sons birthday and he is turning 4 and so grateful to have him in my life. He has been so flexible and super amazing in this journey along with my husband and has been my rocks in this whole process.
What does weekend self-care look like for you?
Having the time to meditate and put my gratitude to practice, having the time to sleep in and just eating yummy food, being with family and to relax!
TV show you are currently enjoying?
With the release of Namaste Wahala, I have been so busy and haven’t had the time to watch TV in the last month. The last show that I watched and completely loved was Bridgeton. Such a great show with the whimsical’s and back in the day love stories.
Are you a Tea or Coffee Person?
100% coffee person! I am obsessed with coffee and love coffee!
What’s your favourite comfort food?
Too many! But I love chicken curry and rice, pizzas and burgers, chicken suya from Nigeria and anything savoury! I am a foodie and used to run a restaurant so too many to name comfort foods.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
I love sitting in front of the TV watching a good rom-com or a good TV show with take-out Chinese. I am also a big fan show of reality TV.
Your favourite quote?
“What you appreciate, appreciates”
What’s your spirit animal?
I love sharks and gorillas!