My biggest apprehension about London Dreams was how director Vipul Amrutlal Shah would convincingly transform two middle-aged actors, Salman Khan and Ajay Devgn, into pop stars. As it turns out, that is the least of this film’s problems.
London Dreams is about two friends, Arjun played by Ajay and Mannu played by Salman, who have been together since their school days in Bhatinda.
Despite his rural surroundings, Arjun nurtures a fierce desire to be a pop singer. But his father cannot tolerate his ambitions because his own father was a famous musician who committed suicide after a disastrous concert at London’s Wembley stadium. When Arjun’s father dies, his uncle, also a music hater, takes Arjun to London, where he promptly runs away. He runs all the way from the airport to London city where he plays a flute on the street, earns a few pennies and, incredibly enough, puts himself through a fancy looking music school. You must have figured out by now that logic and realism are not high on the priority list here.
In fact, all of Arjun’s dreams fall into place laughably easily – he gets a band, an audition with a big music company, a snazzy apartment, a BMW and even a dancer/groupie, Priya played by Asin. Trouble only starts when he imports Manu to London and the village bumpkin turns out to be more talented. So Arjun, like Salieri from Amadeus, accuses God of short-changing him by giving him the passion and Manu the talent and he plots Manu’s downfall, via, drugs and women.
London Dreams is a frustratingly dim-witted drama about artistic passion, friendship and insecurity. The script, written by Suresh Nair, has the complexity of a cartoon. Moments of high drama are undermined by sheer silliness.
Arjun is an intense, brooding man but his ambition is hard to take seriously because he is in the habit of whipping himself when he thinks he’s faltering. So he takes out his belt and goes into self-flagellation mode when he finds himself attracted to Priya.
You see Arjun, like his namesake from the Mahabharat, cannot take his eyes off his target of someday singing at Wembley. Mannu’s downfall is almost as funny. In one scene, we see him eating cocaine—he thinks its salt—and in the next, he’s addict.
Meanwhile 90,000 people, including Brits who I’m assuming cannot follow Hindi, are lining up to see these two men sing Hindi songs.
Poor Priya is devoid of even these superficial traits – all we know about her is that she comes from a strict Iyer family and therefore does classical dance at home but wears miniskirts outside. When her conservative father sees her in rockstar mode on a poster, she explains that it’s a look alike and he believes her.
Most of us don’t watch Hindi films for their verisimilitude but honestly, how much disbelief can a viewer suspend. There are a few nice songs here and occasional moments of charm provided by Salman Khan, who once again, plays a variation of Salman Khan.
Otherwise London Dreams is as much fun as a stuck record. See it if you must.