2008’s Rock On!! is a great Hindi film about a rock band and the tensions that develop between band members. Though London Dreams is also about problems within a rock band, it’s every bit as bad as Rock On!! is good: shallow and lacking an understanding of human emotions.
London Dreams is about Arjun, a Punjabi boy who dreams of becoming a great musician. However, his family hates music, blaming that particular form of entertainment for the death of Arjun’s grandfather.
When Arjun’s father dies — an event Arjun interprets as divine confirmation of his musical destiny — the boy moves to London with his uncle. Arjun runs away in the airport and buys his way into a music school with pocket change. (What? It could happen.)
As an adult, Arjun (Ajay Devgan) is so singularly focused on his goal of headlining Wembley Stadium that he won’t let anything distract him, going to far as to whip himself with a belt to suppress his sexual urges for his backup dancer, Priya (Asin Thottumkal). Arjun’s band, London Dreams, takes England by storm, even though their music is mediocre.
Arjun’s childhood friend, Mannu (Salman Khan), leaves his life of philandering in Punjab to live with his pal in London. For kicks, Arjun invites Mannu to perform on stage with London Dreams.
There’s a freak confetti accident during the performance, and Arjun gestures to Mannu to take over as frontman. Turns out, slacker Mannu is a more charismatic singer than Arjun. Mannu gets all of the accolades, as well as Priya’s affections, and Arjun sets about trying to destroy his best friend and take back the spotlight for himself.
Overall, London Dreams is a sloppy movie. The same footage is used for concerts that are supposed to take place separately in London, Paris and Rome; try to spot the girl in the blue basketball jersey in the crowd at all three concerts.
Worse, the band members barely even pretend to play their instruments. The old, mohawked drummer never comes within an inch of the cymbals he’s supposed to be playing. Heck, he’s not even an official member of the band, which consists of two singers, two guitarists and a backup dancer. It’s impossible for them to produce the music that makes up the movie’s soundtrack; it should have also been impossible for Mannu to auto-tune his own voice without the aid of a microphone and computer.
Trumping all of the movie’s other problems, the lead characters in London Dreams are deplorable. Arjun is a sociopath, and Mannu’s alternately a promiscuous lout and a simpleton. Their relationship with each other doesn’t develop, and Arjun never faces any consequences for being a terrible person.
Skip London Dreams and rent Rock On!! If nothing else, the music’s better.