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London Dreams November 6, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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When I was glancing around reviews for this film I came across many people complaining about how this is an awful “rip-off” of Amadeus. Agreed, that the basic characterizations of Ajay Devgn and Salman Khan are inspired from the latter film’s protagonists but calling that a remake or a rip-off makes me wonder if they actually have seen that film. Another recurring complaint is about how it fails to match Rock On!! – well…why on earth does one expect it be a Rock-On!! when the makers never promised anything like that.

Anyways, Vipul Shah’s latest directorial venture is a suprisingly effective old-school tale about friendship and jealousy. It doesn’t take much time for anyone to realize that the whole rock-band thing is nothing more than a backdrop to this story. Arjun (Ajay Devgn) – an extremely ambitious guy whose sole aim in life is to perform at Wembley. However, as he comes closer to acheiving his dream his limelight is effortlessly stolen by his carefree childhood friend Mannu (Salman Khan) – who ends up dealing a double blow by wowing the crowds and wooing his girl. Arjun decides to get back at Mannu by bringing him down in everyone’s eyes – albeit he also has guilt pangs for doing the same.

Most of the film is quite breezy and a lot of fun while not deviating much from the main plot but it gets rather inconsistent (and ineffective) when things start getting a bit serious. Yet, one has to applaud Vipul Shah for the mature way in which he handles the last portions of the film (especially if you’ve seen in his last two films how cringeworthy he can get when it comes to melodrama). If London Dreams fails it is only because the writing in the second half (the emotional scenes) does not do justice to the intensity of the actors involved – which is why those portions don’t seem so heartfelt. Shah admitted in an interview about excising a lot of those scenes due to the runtime which answers to an extent why that part didn’t work.

Another thing is probably Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s score which has its share of great and not-so-great tunes. This aspect is rather glaring because all the average numbers turn up only in the concerts (with the exception of the wonderful “Khwaab” track which I must say covers most of the failings of the second half).

But it is hard to keep picking flaws when you have the powerful duo of Ajay Devgn and Salman Khan in superb form. Ajay’s grudge in the movie is that everybody loves Salman – it’s no wonder the latter’s role is written keeping that aspect in mind. Whether you love or hate the film, you cannot but be charmed by Salman. The box office still has not been completely kind to him but the superstar has truly begun to shine again. Asin, Rannvijay Singh and Aditya Roy Kapoor are just passable.

For me London Dreams worked completely because I haven’t seen a film in a very long time which had such an authentic “feel-good” vibe about it. It could have been a lot better but given its merits the flaws are very easily forgivable. Go for it…

Rock On!! August 30, 2008

Posted by Sai in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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When I walked in to watch this film, I half expected to watch a story about the trials and tribulations of a rock band and their ultimate triumph. You will be glad to know that this film isn’t about triumph. It is about relationships. It is about choices and decisions. It is about life.

Magik is the name of a somewhat successful rock band. Four guys in their mid-twenties, following their passions and living their dream. But that was 10 years ago. They are rock stars no more. Each has chosen a different profession. Some have been successful and some are still struggling. Rock On is the story of their past and the story of their present. It is about their journey through the hardened road of life.

One notable aspect in the film is that the conflict is not the traditional Bollywood black-and-white type. It is closer to reality in that the persons involved come out thinking that the other is at fault. Towards the end of the film, you have a sinking feeling where you wonder if the makers will sell out and do a Karan Johar (trying to “touch” you with death) but this aspect is treated well. And in the climax, when they have a choice to show a miraculous achievement (because everyone loves miracles), they steer clear. This film is clearly about the journey; success be damned. And therein lies its triumph.

This film is co-written (with Pubali Chaudhuri and dialogue by Farhan Akhtar) and directed by Abhishek Kapoor (who previously made Aryan and also acted in a couple of films more than a decade ago). Considering that his first film was a dud (that I haven’t seen), this is quite a leap for Kapoor. He handles this film admirably well. For a filmmaker looking desperately for success, he takes a road less traveled and comes up trumps. One hopes that he can continue on the same path in the future.

The casting in the film is spot on. No actor looks out of place. Farhan Akhtar acts and sings (apart from writing the dialogue and producing this). He does a pretty neat job on both fronts. Agreed that he hasn’t the greatest voice but he acquits himself quite well. Arjun Rampal gets probably the best role of his career so far. Om Shanti Om might have got him a lot of recognition but this will bring him the respect. And he totally looks like a rock star. Purab Kohli is very likable and I’d like to see him in more films. Luke Kenny and Prachi Desai make worthy acting debuts and Shahana Goswami also does well as Rampal’s wife.

Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s music is the backbone of this film. There has been some discussion online whether this is “true” rock or whatever. Being relatively ignorant on this aspect, I couldn’t care less. What matters though was that the music worked brilliantly in the film. The film ends with about 15 minutes of music and I came out exhilarated, looking to give my throat and lungs some serious exercise.

This isn’t a film with real “commercial” appeal. It isn’t like Farhan Akhtar’s Dil Chahta Hai (though some elements overlap) which had a lot of entertainment and the identification factor for youth. I saw the film with a theater full of youngsters but this mature film is actually for a more adult audience. While the film delivers a seemingly authentic experience, it could seem slow to some. I would wholeheartedly recommend this film but prepare yourself before you watch it!