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Upperstall Review



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London Dreams


Hindi, Drama, 2009, Color

Arjun (Ajay Devgan) and Mannu (Salman Khan) were childhood friends. While Arjun's life was consumed by a passionate drive to get on stage and realize his grandfather's unfulfilled dream, Mannu had little interest in his music tutor father's instruments and was content with enjoying the good things in life. Arjun diligently pursued his dream, at the risk of running away from an uncle who was his only family in an unfamiliar land, playing his flute on the streets of London and priming himself until he's ready to make his foray into the world of music. As Arjun forges a band with Zoheb and Wasim, two brothers who'd duped their relatives in Pakistan to travel to London in pursuit of their musical aspirations, and Priya (Asin), a music enthusiast from a conservative South Indian family, music becomes a survival tool for Mannu, who takes to playing in wedding bands in his village. But when Arjun gets Mannu to London and makes him a part of the band, Arjun soon realizes he's created the biggest threat and obstacle to his own ambitions. For, Mannu, with his inherent musical gift and irreverent style of performing, becomes an instant darling of the crowds. What has taken Arjun years to achieve, Mannu does overnight. Arjun's unbearable jealously and insecurity only worsens when Mannu also unwittingly woos and wins Priya, whom he has loved secretly. As he battles his inner demons, Arjun devises a sinister plan to destroy his best friend...

If one of the functions of cinema is to give the viewer food for thought, then it has to be said London Dreams is one hell of a thought-provoking film. It makes you think and wonder; in fact, it makes you wonder a lot.

You wonder whose idea it was to murder Milos Formanís classic Amadeus (1984) so brutally in the first place and why. Especially since Bollywood had already done it before, and well enough too, with Shakalaka Boom Boom (2007).

You are puzzled as to the central casting of a couple of men in their 40s playing 20 somethings and doing idiotic things on screen. The scenes of Salman Khan in the aircraft and at Heathrow Airport just leave you speechless.

You wonder if youíve seen such a criminal waste of time, effort and so much money on something so mediocre recently. Actually yes, Kambakkth Ishq?

You are astonished at the total lack of knowledge of the Punjabi underground musical scenario in UK. In fact, everything to do with music, the backbone of the story, is dealt with ever so weakly.

You rack your memory to see if you've seen a second half of a Hindi film derail so badly.

You are confused whether you are watching a film of the 1970s or a contemporary one when you see sequences like the young Ajay Devgan being able to afford going to music school in UK by playing his flute on the streets of London.

You wonder if any time was spent on the story, screenplay or dialogue or was it put together as rapidly as the formation and rise of the London Dreams band?

You seriously question the fact how not having sex and whipping oneself to cleanse oneself of oneís (dirty) thoughts and deeds is a sign of being totally focused on your dream.

You are gobsmacked trying to figure out how they filled Salman Khanís body with various drugs (including marijuana!) to make him an addict of the highest order who has to go for rehab in so short a time.

You are dumb-struck as to how a performer can give a speech like the inane one that Devgan gives at Wembly in front of 90,000 people.

You are unable to comprehend how amateurish the Ajay Devgan character is in his means and methods of getting Salman Khan out of his way.

You wonder why Ajay Devganís voiceovers tell you nothing more than what youíve already seen and have no additional insight into his mind whatsoever.

You are astounded that if Asin has come to Bollywood to be wasted in films like this, then isnít she better off ruling it in Kollywood where she came from?

You think in a musical film like this and with Shankar Ė Ehsaan Ė Loy at the helm, the music would be far, far better. Just putting a Punjabi beat to words doesnít make for a hit song.

You wonder why Sejal Shah strives so hard to give the film a polish it didnít deserve especially in some of the concert sequences.

And finally, you are surprised how you managed to sit through the entire film in the first place and cannot help but wonder just how much lower can Hindi cinema stoop. It's scary!

Upperstall review by: Karan Bali aka TheThirdMan




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