LONDON DREAMS. Director: Vipul Amrutlal Shah. Players: Ajay Devgn, Salman Khan, Asin, Om Puri. Music: Shankar, Ehsaan, Loy. Theatre release: Headstart Films(UK) Ltd.


What would you do if your best buddy stole your dream?

That is the one line synopsis of London Dreams, clearly inspired by Peter Shaffer’s 1979 play,Amadeus, (later the classic film which won eight Oscars) based on the lives of composers Mozart and Antonio Salieri.

London Dreams is the story of Arjun (Devgn) and Mannu (Khan). It is Arjun’s lifelong ambition to become a rock star and perform at Wembley Stadium. Working assiduously at his dreams he defies his father and makes it to London. He even forms a rag-tag band with two of his buddies and Priya (Asin). While this group dreams of rocking London, back home in Punjab, the carefree Mannu plays in wedding bands for a living.

Arjun returns to India to save Mannu from his creditors, and takes him back to London, only to realize that Mannu, with his amazing talent, is a certain threat to his dreams. He watches enviously from the sidelines as Mannu effortlessly achieves all that he had dreamt of all his life without even trying. Things take an ugly turn when Arjun finds his secret love, Priya, falling in love with Mannu. Will the friendship survive?

Director Shah makes an honest effort but is let down by too simplistic a script. He extracts excellent performances from both Devgn and Khan. Khan is a delight as a carefree rustic—the man-child who gleefully escapes growing up and resorts to childlike exuberance, whether it is proposing to Asin in front of Eiffel Tower or bursting into uncontrollable giggles when he’s strip searched at Heathrow. Devgn excels in bringing out the angst as he fumes against God for giving him the passion but ladeling out all the talent to his easygoing yokel friend. Asin is left with nothing much to do other than look lovely, which she does effortlessly.

Given that London Dreams describes itself as a “human drama against a musical backdrop,” talented composers Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy inexplicably fail to create the magic which would make the success of the band in the movie believable.

Once again, the script fails both the filmmakers and the audience.

Vandana Kumar is a publishing executive with a 35-year track record in the industry. She leads the India Currents Foundation as President and CEO. As a new immigrant, she co-founded India Currents magazine...