Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

October 30, 2009

Wembley warblings

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 9:35 pm

October 30, 2009

Cast: Ajay Devgan, Salman Khan, Asin

Director: Vipul Shah

London Dreams, directed by Vipul Shah, is a frustratingly foolish film about foolish people. It’s the kind of film whose central conflict could be instantly resolved if the characters concerned simply sat down and had a chat. Ajay Devgan plays Arjun, an aspiring pop-artiste obsessed with performing before a cheering crowd at London’s Wembley Stadium. He becomes jealous of his devoted best friend and band-mate Manu, played by Salman Khan, who is evidently more talented than him, but nowhere near as focused or ambitious.

Arjun decides to sabotage Manu when the latter’s popularity threatens to outshine his own. Now here’s where a heart-to-heart might have helped. Had Arjun explained what this Wembley fixation meant to him, Manu would have graciously backed off and let Arjun fulfill his childhood dream, and we’d have been spared the agony of watching the rest of this uninspiring drivel. But director Vipul Shah and his writers are in no mood to do us any favours.

London Dreams is packed with unintentionally hilarious gems like that back-story involving Arjun’s grandpa who committed suicide out of shame for getting stage-fright at a packed Wembley concert. Or the ridiculous incident at a show where Manu must take over vocal responsibilities after a blast of confetti practically chokes Arjun into silence.

The idiocy, however, doesn’t end there. In his attempts to shame Manu publicly, Arjun uses his connections to get Manu hooked onto drugs. A buxom groupie urges Manu to down a couple of tequila shots with her but replaces his salt with cocaine. Before you know it, Manu has acquired quite the appetite for the addictive white powder, practically chomping it down like dinner.

If that isn’t silly enough, there’s a crude scene later in which Manu chases after the said girl to find out who she’s been taking orders from. The pursuit ends in a dark London alley where the girl gets down on her knees pretending to do the unmentionable so as to mislead Manu’s girlfriend who’s been secretly following after them.

Wait, there’s more! Expect to howl hysterically when Arjun snaps off his belt and whips himself mercilessly to banish all thoughts of romance or lust towards the band’s lead dancer Priya (played by Asin) because nothing and no one must distract him from his musical goals.

Too generously inspired by Milos Forman’s Amadeus for it to merit any comparison with last year’s Rock On!, Vipul Shah’s latest is a clunky melodrama that’s as loosely directed as it is scripted. The film goes for broad humor, over-the-top emotions, and basically chooses loudness over subtlety. That works for Manu’s character, with Salman Khan playing him all loutish and lovable, but in the case of Arjun, Ajay Devgan comes off too passive with a performance that is mostly internalised.

When Arjun does reach boiling point however, it results in an awkward pre-climax scene in which he lectures a packed concert hall and is understandably pelted with plastic bottles as punishment. Of the remaining cast, there’s not a kind word I can say for Asin, who practically lit up Ghajini with her ebullient charm, but disappoints here with unnecessary over-acting in a thankless role.

Ranvijay Singh and Aditya Roy Kapur, reduced to mere sidekicks in the band, show up at regular intervals, usually to utter some inane dialogue like, “We’ll rock it dude!”

For its dim-witted writing and sloppy direction, London Dreams is ultimately a tiresome watch. I’m going with two out of five and at best an average rating for director Vipul Shah’s London Dreams.

If you must, watch it for Salman Khan who’s turned buffoonery into a bonafide acting style. It’s the only thing that’ll make you smile in this sad, sad film.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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