Let's clear a few myths before discussing the positive and negative factors of this film. London Dreams is not Baiju Bawra. London Dreams is not Rock On!!, Abhimaan, Yaarana or Saajan either [a section of the industry wants us to believe that]. The truth is, London Dreams borrows from Milos Forman's brilliant film Amadeus , which was based on Salieri and Mozart's life. In fact, Suneel Darshan too had made a film based on Amadeus called Shakalaka Boom Boom [2007; Bobby Deol, Upen Patel].
London Dreams is a complete departure from Vipul Shah's earlier outings, Aankhen, Waqt Namastey London and Singh is Kinng [produced by Vipul, directed by Anees Bazmee]. This film is about relationships and tends to get very real and intense, in the post-interval portions specifically. The scale of London Dreams is gigantic and the execution of concerts [it's about a band] sweeps you off your feet.
In terms of execution, it wouldn't be erroneous to state that London Dreams is amongst Vipul Shah's most accomplished works to date. Also, it boasts of incredible performances by Salman Khan and Ajay Devgn. But there are hiccups too and it's these deficiencies that bog the film down!
They were childhood friends. But they had little in common except their family's connection with music. While Arjun's [Ajay Devgn] life was consumed by a passionate drive to get on stage and realize his grandfather's unfulfilled dream, Mannu [Salman Khan] was content with remaining a child at heart with no higher ambition than enjoying the good things in life.
As Arjun forges a band with Zoheb [Rannvijay Singh], Wasim [Aditya Roy Kapur] and Priya [Asin], a music enthusiast from a conservative South Indian family, far away in Punjab, music becomes a survival tool for Mannu, who takes to playing in wedding bands in his village.
Arjun gets Mannu to London and makes him a part of the band, but soon realizes he's created the biggest threat and obstacle to his own ambitions.
Mannu, with his inherent musical gift, becomes an instant darling of the crowds. Arjun's unbearable pangs of jealously and insecurity only worsen when Mannu also unwittingly woos and wins his secret love, Priya. As he battles his inner demons, Arjun slowly devises a sinister plan to destroy his best friend.
It takes time to get into Ajay's world [its Ajay who's narrating the story here]. The film moves back and forth and it's only when the two buddies, now adults, meet that you realize where the story is headed. The first hour depicts the two extreme characters - Ajay, who's an introvert and who cannot think of anything but his goal and Salman, a happy-go-lucky guy, laidback and fun-loving, least focused.
The narrative has some interesting moments in the first hour, but the actual story unravels only towards the second half. The first half, frankly, only sets things up for the explosive drama that is to follow. The wheels start moving when Ajay plays a vicious game and hatches a conspiracy to ruin his buddy's career.
It's the second hour that does the trick. You can't help but carry several sequences in your heart, even after you've made an exit from the auditorium...
* Note the scene when Salman makes four different tunes from the original tune created by Ajay.
* Note the scene when Ajay meets an inebriated Salman and professes revenge, while Salman is completely clueless about Ajay's sinister plans.
* Note the scene when the band arrives in London after a 3-city concert and they're received by aggressive mediapersons.
But there're roadblocks too. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy's music is a downer. London Dreams is about a rock band, about music, about concerts and the music had to be the soul of the film. Unfortunately, it's not! The songs have been filmed in the most energetic fashion, but how one wishes its music was one of the strengths of the film.
Also, the film could've concluded when the two friends re-unite at the station. Adding one more song thereafter only dilutes the impact of the emotionally correct sequence that has just been witnessed. Besides, the song in question hasn't been promoted either, so it only comes across as an aberration.
Prior to that, Ajay's outburst at the end of the concert is far from convincing. The film has a real feel, real characters and real situations, but the outburst looks unreal and is one of the drawbacks, from the writing point of view. It's just not convincing!
Besides, Ajay's childhood character is shown fleeing from the airport and making it big in a foreign land [London], without any support whatsoever. It's unpalatable! Vipul Shah has handled this intricate subject well, but the writing could've been tighter. Sejal Shah's cinematography is super. Brownie points for capturing the concerts brilliantly. Salim-Sulaiman's background score matches international standards.
Both Salman and Ajay vie for top honours. Salman has a role that the junta would take to instantly and the actor too endears himself to the viewers. He's stupendous. When it comes to displaying intensity on screen, very few can live up to the standards set by Ajay. To state that he packs in a power-packed performance would be an understatement. They, in fact, compliment each other wonderfully well.
Asin is admirable and pairs off very well with Salman. She is sure to have a new name after this film - Chennai Express [that's how Salman addresses her affectionately, all through the film]. Om Puri has a brief role. Aditya Roy Kapur is very good and registers an impact. Rannvijay Singh doesn't get much to do, except throw nasty looks at Salman. Manoj Pahwa provides some funny moments. Brinda Parekh is okay.
On the whole, London Dreams has superb performances from its principal cast and several emotionally-charged sequences as its two trump cards. But its biggest drawback is its climax and also the music, which is the weakest link of the movie. At the box-office, the film should appeal more to the multiplex audience than the masses. Business at big centres, especially at metros, should be better, but mini-metros and towns will be a contrast.