In recent years Bollywood hasn’t churned out too many two-hero films. We have either witnessed overcrowded multistarrers or over packaged solo vehicles. London Dreams unties Salman Khan and Ajay Devgn more than a decade after the hugely popular Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. Over the years, both actors have firmly carved a niche for themselves among the industry’s top brigade.
Vipul Shah’s story charts the lives of two friends, from the lush fields of Punjab to the high stakes world of showbiz. Arjun (Ajay Devgn) is an ambitious, trained musician whose dream is to perform at London’s Wembly Arena. His best buddy Mannu (Salman Khan) is a natural talent. Despite his inborn ability, Mannu is not at all serious about music. On Arjun’s insistence, Mannu joins his band and becomes an overnight star. Arjun might be the slogger – but Mannu has the fans. A jealous Arjun now has to choose between friendship and ambition. As Devgn says in one of the scenes – he has the passion, but his friend has the X-factor.
London Dreams is not your regular male bonding film. The friendship is a little more complex. Vipul takes his own time to establish the plot, giving equal attention to both his leading men. While the story is narrated through Ajay’s character, Salman steals the edge in few scenes. It’s almost autobiographical, as Salman’s superstardom is all about how he appeals to his fans. Be it the lighter portions initially or his troubled tryst with fame post interval, this is perhaps Salman Khan’s best performance ever. The actor is completely in control and emotes like never before. If you thought Wanted showcased bits of Salman Khan’s acting, London Dreams is several notches higher. Hope he puts a permanent stop on romantic comedies.
Ajay Devgn has played the anti-hero before. But after a wonderfully hilarious act in last week’s All The Best – it is always nice to see him return to home turf. While he doesn’t get the crowd pleasing one liners, Ajay is the only actor who has the intensity to carry off the role. From love to jealousy to anger to insecurity, Ajay brilliantly conveys a wide range of emotions. As a director, Vipul Shah gives a fair deal to both his actors. The interval scene involving Salman and Ajay is the high point of the film.
The pace however slackens a bit in the second half. Some trimming would have helped. Vipul Shah’s treatment is not over the top or melodramatic – but some more conflict in the script would have enhanced the impact. Yet it is one of the most well written films of the year. The finale might come across as simplistic, but on the flip side it also mature and practical.
Shankar Ehsaan Loy’s music perfectly compliments the screenplay. No song seems out of place. Asin is the common love interest and does what a traditional Hindi film heroine has to do, ie smile and go through several costume changes. The two VJ’s (Rannvijay and Aditya) provide the right look to the rock band.
VERDICT: Eventually London Dreams is all about the joy of watching Salman and Ajay’s chemistry. Their star power makes up for all the flaws. Both have put their heart and soul into the film, delivering powerhouse, career defining performances.