There's no point in spending money on making yourself sad. Hence, Vipul Shah did the cleverer thing - he spent crores and crores of money on making you
sad. London Dreams makes you feel like someone lunged a 5-pound dumbbell down your guts. Pity no one told Shah that favours can be returned in kind as well.
Arjun (Ajay Devgn) has been majorly kicked about music ever since he was an ultrasonic image in his mom's womb. The extent of his zeal can be understood by the fact that as a kid, he played the flute on London's streets for money. Anything to save his motherland from his hobby.
Diametrically opposite to this keen kid is his best chum Mannu (Salman Khan), a flirt who grows up in Punjab wildly fooling around, and ends up in a wedding band. He's soft-hearted and soft-headed, and bare-chested to a lot of women, and that makes him popular.
Arjun forms a band called London Dreams with 3 other Indians. He falls in love with his band member Priya Iyer (Asin), at first sight. However, he's determined to not see anything in life other than his own nose. We think that happens when you're wearing sunglasses at all times of the day. To keep himself from digressing, Arjun flogs himself with a belt - for thinking about Priya, and for thinking of keeping away his goggles.
He brings Mannu from his village so that Mannu can make a decent living. Turns out that the childlike and naÃ¯ve Mannu is more talented than he is. And has a cooler attitude. As a result, Europe goes gaga over him. Further, Mannu successfully woos the prim and proper Priya. Arjun decides to do something to make up for the injustice, the agony, the horror of it all. But surprisingly, he doesn't announce a free screening of All The Best
Instead, he gets Mannu hooked on to drugs. The band loses a big gig. Arjun manipulates Mannu, who gets all guilty and weepy at his new-found weakness. Mannu wants to make up for it, and says he'll rock the next performance. Arjun goes wild. He dragged half the movie just to stop Mannu from singing, and he again
wants to perform? When will actors stop reading everything in the scripts?
After embarrassing himself and his band and the scriptwriters by bursting out into a lame speech in front of 90,000 people at a concert, Mannu realizes Arjun's true intentions and slinks away to Punjab. Later, Arjun goes to India to apologize but is dealt a shameful slap on his face when Mannu says it was all his
fault and not Arjun's. The band re-unites and goes back to London, and it's your sign to clear the theatre of any signs you were there.
Chances are that right from the beginning, London Dreams will keep reminding you of a zillion other movies with similar themes. This is a good sign, since it means the movie's not affecting you that much. On the other hand, it also shows you're still watching it and not thinking of the last time you cleaned the innards of your cell phone, which is a much happier thing to do.
Mannu's clowning makes London Dreams good to sit through the first half. Some of the anti-British dialogues are a riot. In the second half, the ugliness sets in, when Arjun's desperateness gives way to outright evil. By this time, you realize you don't need to refill your butter popcorn, or even go out for a smoke. The sight of Salman Khan weeping is bound to bore a hole through your heart anyway.
As for Asin, she's supposed to be a Tam Bram whose father doesn't know she's part of a world-famous band - she, later, has to fight with him to go ahead and use her inborn passion for "music". And to think that all she does at their shows is dance in the background, with 50 extras. In any case, the climax at Wembley undoes everything that you'd have found right with the movie.
Ajay Devgn's brooding is impressive. So is Salman Khan. And so are parts of Asin's wardrobe. Rannvijay, as Arjun's co-conniving side-kick, does an earnest job, and the Punjabi gang is fun. The foreigners, however, may not find it funny to have been given those feeble lines.
London Dreams makes the concerts look sensational indeed. Punjab, Paris and London have been shot well. It, of course, helps to have a cheerful Salman Khan and a brightly dressed Asin in the foreground. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy do not seem to have considered this a musical. Their tunes are like the ambitious desi pop band - neither here nor there.
Watch London Dreams if you haven't watched anything else in Bollywood, and you might just be lucky enough to be impressed.