Salaam Namaste released in 2005 and was directed by Siddharth Anand and produced by Aditya Chopra and Yash Chopra under the Yash Raj Films banner. 

It stars Preity Zinta and Saif Ali Khan as Ambar and Nikhil, two people who fall in love with one another and decide to move in together to give their relationship a fairer chance to thrive. 


I was 12 years old when I watched Salaam Namaste, and yes, my parents did (very awkwardly) press fast forward on the sex scene. As you can imagine, as a desi 12-year-old, I was extremely fascinated with the idea of two people living together before getting married. 

Years later though, when I caught a clip of the movie online, I realized how much I loved Preity Zinta’s character Ambar. She is undoubtedly one of the coolest female characters we’ve been served by Bollywood. 


According to the plotline, Ambar decides to move to Australia to flee her parents who are pressuring her for an arranged marriage. And she also begins working as an RJ to pay for her education there. 

I mean, to move to a whole other country, for the sake of your independence, without proper family support, that doesn’t sound like an easy task. 


Later in the film when she starts seeing Nikhil, and they move in together, we see that Ambar finds out that she is pregnant. Of course she is distraught over this because neither of them were emotionally or financially ready to have children.

Despite this, she decides to keep the baby. Even when Nikhil tells her how disinterested he is in having children and that he won’t be able to support her or be a part of the journey at all!


It may not seem like a big deal right now, but seeing an Indian female character who chose to move out of her parents’ home, go into a live-in relationship, and be a single parent, was pretty significant in the 2000s. 

Ambar started going to yoga classes all by herself, reading up on pregnancy books and preparing herself as best as she could for the arrival of her baby. It was staggering to see how well she adapted to Nikhil’s choice to withdraw from parenthood!

If these are not signs of absolute resilience and independence I don’t know what are? 


And the fact that she ultimately came to a place of serenity with Nikhil was all the more inspiring to see. Ambar wanted so badly to be supported and loved by Nikhil. When Nikhil opted out of parenthood with her, their romantic relationship also fell apart. 

But Ambar still loved him, and she still wanted him by her side through the challenges of being pregnant. Yet, she persevered. She kept her feelings aside, and chose to do what felt right to her.


She also had to live with Nikhil because they’d paid to have the house for one year. To have to live with someone you love, but cannot be with, and be carrying their child – could not have been a piece of cake. Clearly, Ambar was incredibly patient and understanding throughout the whole situation. 


Seeing Ambar continue to persist through all the loneliness, lack of support and conflicts with Nikhil was beyond astounding. She didn’t point fingers at anyone, she took full ownership of her life, and decisions and began planning for her life ahead! If that is not rad, then what is?

Also, just FYI, I am not ignoring how Nikhil was a bit of jerk to her, but this is about Ambar being an amazing person, and nothing else. 


Ambar taught me that you can love someone, have different opinions from them, forgive them for hurting you, be at peace with decisions of theirs that might not be in favor of you and also co-exist with them in the same space. In short, Ambar taught me what respect is all about; both for yourself and for a person you may have shared a relationship with.