London Dreams (2009) Review

This is why we love Bollywood. A simple story of friendship, jealousy, and dissatisfaction with the supernatural, is only so good on paper. A fine film elevates the simple elements to an admirable level while retaining its strong emotional core. The result is a fun entertainer in which our friendship with cinema is the clear winner.



Arjun (Ajay Devgn) and Mannu (Salman Khan) are best friends since their childhood. Both share a passion for music. Arjun dreams of being a rock star and of performing at Wembley Stadium in England. Mannu is content playing the trumpet for his 'Raja-Rani Band' (lit. the 'King-Queen' Band) in their village in the Punjab. Arjun and his music group called 'London Dreams' (which includes Priya (Asin)) taste success in England, and eventually recruit Mannu to their group.


Mannu's incredible talent outshines everyone in the group, so much so that masses chant his name, TV shows refer to London Dreams as 'Mannu's band', and concert audiences demand more of him than any other performer. Arjun is uncomfortable (to say the least) with being overshadowed thus, and as his popularity declines, his faith and friendship are compromised. He is intent on achieving personal success. Question is, as it often is: At what cost?

This simple story is aided by some rather well-written dialogue and most importantly, by some very powerful performances by the lead cast. That is because the casting is perfect and plays to the actors' strengths. Ajay Devgn is traditionally reliable in roles requiring the quiet intensity of Arjun. Salman Khan, on the other hand, is notorious for his comic timing and fierce loyalty. Asin, in only her second Hindi film, is splendid, in a limited but significant role. Of course, there is a love triangle involved. ;)


Only fair to devote a paragraph to Salman here. His performance is a sheer joy to witness. Give him this -- a lot was said about him playing himself in Wanted earlier this year. While it might be true there isn't an actor who could've better portrayed that character, his performance in London Dreams is a testament to versatile talent he's chosen to not exploit in the recent past. Convincing as ever, and more than enough to not only own the film, but to portray a very different character than he has in a long time.


Good musicians make good music -- the beautiful soundtrack (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy) is beautifully integrated. Again, the songs are extremely well-written, and sound better after the film. There's not a moment when they (and their lyrics) feel out of place, and that's a tribute to the film crew led by director Vipul Shah. The choreography is noteworthy as well, with Tapkey Masti by far my favorite. There's a sequence in which Mannu sings two couplets in various styles -- filmy, ghazal, hip hop, then rock -- which makes us wish the entire sequence were included in the soundtrack.


The magical combination of a good script, perfect casting, and great music, makes it easy for the audience to unleash the power of imagination to want to immerse themselves in the film and overlook its shortcomings (and there are some; but then, since when did believability become an absolute prerequisite to a film of this genre?). And that's really where London Dreams does its audience justice, and vice versa. Four stars for the finest core Bollywood entertainer of 2009. It's got style. It's got substance. It's got strong potential to make its audience shed tears of joy and sorrow. It's got veteran actors having a fun time, and it shows. And it's films like this that make us proud of and grateful for our unconditional love (one hopes!) of Bollywood! Of course, if you're not a fan of core Bollywood, you might dislike this.


Movie rating: 4/5 (Excellent!)
This would not be the same without Salman.

Music rating: 4/5 (Excellent!)
Cannot say enough of its integration and choreography.

My classification: PG-13 (for language/content)

Official website (and picture source): LondonDreamsFilm.com

Please note: Comparisons to Rock On (2008) are not at all warranted.

And finally...
I had the pleasure of watching this with Shweta of Apni East India Company (here's her review). She enjoyed following the 'Drug Lady' in the film, while I longed to see more of the 'Married Woman'. See the film to appreciate the intrigue! =)

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this wonderful review! This movie is no doubt one of the better ones released this year. I am so watching it again!

veracious said...

Oh, you got to see the film with Shweta? That's awesome. I wish Bollywood bloggers lived in my area.. Er, and that we actually got films in theaters so I could check 'em out. :D

bollywooddeewana said...

Wow you really liked this, some things just didn't suit right with me, i kept thinking of all the plotholes, i'm all for the leave your brains at home movies but such movies were cute back then

How the hell did Arjun fund his way through Music school from Childhood to adulthood

How did he manage to outrun the cops all the way from the airport and even find his way through London

Considering performances Salman was funny for sure and delightful but Asin's character was nothing more than a background character, her role wasn't fleshy enough for me but she did her best with what was given to her

There were some too filmy instances that had me rolling my eyes, like when Asin walked in on the other girl who set up a fake 'Bj' encounter with Salman as well as the scene where her father appears from no where to catch Salman flirting with her

Ok Ok i'm ranting too much but this film was average or should i say below average to me. I give it 4.5/10

Darshit said...

Extremely exciting. Thats what i call about the movie. I was concerned about many things first was Ajay for rockstar. But in the first song itself he made me convinced. Also i was worried (silly though) how Gujju director will pull off such subject? That to got convinced in first half an hour . Absolutely engaging screenplay. It got me flattered when near finale, Sallu+Asin talks and at the same time Ajay+Rannvijay are talking.

Darshit said...

Each dark scene with Ajay was a treat to watch. His intesity made it perfect. Asin was good too. But style bhai Salman is winner. As u said, i too just can't imagine the movie without him. Actually i get completely annoyed by such out and out loud Punjabi characters. But Sallu made it so perfect i just loved it. And given witty oneliners, he was outstanding. I was in splits during the 'plane' scene. (saara shehar bheeg jata, haha). Also the one 'champa Agni' (for champagne) :-D He has got my Best Actor award for this year after Wanted and this. No, i dont want Aamir to win this time :-/

Darshit said...

Though the climax left me hungry for more. I wished if it would have concluded differently. It also ends with my favorite song, which was annoying cause you know indian audience, they start leaving the hall 5 minutes before credit rolls. Otherwise it was really well picturised. Not only that one, but each and every song was perfect. Tapkey Masti is my fav since promo. And 'barso yaro' left me speechless.

Bhargav Saikia said...

London Dreams is not an original film. It's unquestionably a Bollywood take on Amadeus. The makers may deny it but that's the truth. And honestly, it has a kiddish screenplay. very amateurish.

Salman Khan is very good though. I enjoyed his acting after a very long time. Asin is good too. I like her screen presence.

for me, london dreams doesn't even come close to the best of the year.

theBollywoodFan said...

Anonymous: Thank *you* for your visit and comment, glad you enjoyed the film! I'll definitely be getting it on DVD. Heck, I want to go check out 'Main Aur Mrs. Khanna' now, hear it's still playing at a theater not too far away (about an hour out).

Veracious: It's so much more fun to watch any film with someone who has a genuine passion for films! Completely different experience, enhances the film, no doubt. Especially when it's our fellow blogger and great friend Shweta, and we're involved in watching a Salman movie =) She kept me honest throughout, though. I'm a sucker for drama/friendship films with good music, LOL.

It's frustrating to not have places playing Hindi films. Any chances this might change? Is the demand that poor in your region?

theBollywoodFan said...

BollywoodDeewana: Thanks for your take. Interesting. You're right about the plot holes, but I found them easy to overlook or fill in the blanks to. I'm still quite fine with every little detail not being explained/justified. Playing devil's advocate for a second, then...

How the hell did Arjun fund his way through Music school from Childhood to adulthood

Perhaps, just how he funded his way from the streets to the inn?

How did he manage to outrun the cops all the way from the airport and even find his way through London

Those were toy cops! Remember, this was well before security was stepped up all over. :P


Okay, that one pushes it by a lot. :D But you get the point. I find part of the fun lies in imagination.

Agreed on Asin. And those filmy instances too. The bit with the encounter was too filmy. I've always thought about how the solid 'pyaar' they say they have is so fragile. Never understood it. Just like how people aren't firing at wheels in a car chase =) But even Hollywood's supposedly sensible cinema is guilty of that yaar! I'm surprised they didn't take that bit with Asin's father a lot further. Can you imagine the potential?! There's a film within a film waiting to be written there! :D

theBollywoodFan said...

Darshit: No more concerns, then! Glad you liked it, and those Salman one-liners really made it quite a treat. The scene in the plane was howlarious. I swear everyone there was laughing out loud and clapping and just having a merry time. Remember Mannu's reference to Diwali? :D

Ajay was fine. One really started hating him, and that's when we know he did his part more than well.

The bit I didn't like about the climax was all the water bottles. The boos would've sufficed. But still. It had me looking forward to how it would end, and that's a good sign. And you're absolutely right about most Indian audiences leaving early. But we stayed through the end credits (and it had good music, too!).

Not a big fan of awards, you know me, and Aamir could care less too. But it's quite clear Salman deserves to be recognized. He's bringing back the old-school Bollywood hero, and he's only proven he is second to none when he wants to be. This was fun!


Bhargav! I read about the Amadeus connection, and guess this is where my very low Hollywood IQ is an advantage :) Liked bits of the screenplay, especially those involving Salman. Could've been much better, though, yes. I meant best of the year in terms of the core Bollywood/escapist/drama stuff. I guess I'm an ideal audience for filmmakers, easy to please. :)

Really like that Salman has stepped it up this year. He's totally into this performance, and it's a treat to watch his act/antics.

Darshit said...

Talking abt howlarious lines, the 'angrez' refrnces wer too good yet harmless. Like 'angrezo se badla lene ja raha hoo' ... Or 'faltu me bhaga diya, 20saal zyada rehte to humare yaha bhi aisa club hota' and yeah, the diwali phatakhe! Cant wait to own this on dvd :-)

theBollywoodFan said...

Those were hilarious, absolutely. Interesting bit is we even talked about how that might be perceived by those who have demonstrated an extreme insensitivity the kind of humor. (Don't support it, but some of it, like here, is, in my view, not malicious at all. Not in a movie such as this, at least.) Of course, we laughed at our thought process, too. All innocent fun. :D

tim said...

Not to be mean, but I found this movie almost unwatchable. Ajay Devgan gave a criminally uninvolved performance. They cast him because Arjun does bad things that requiring glowering. Fine, he's great at that. But acting like a pop star? He can't dance, he can't smile, he can't even wave without it looking like he forgot to take his muscle relaxants that morning.

Salman Khan -- who is so steroid pumped and hulkish now that he's simply ugly -- played yet another simpleton.

Asin's character had literally nothing to do. If you're American and of a certain age, perhaps you'll remember Tracy on the Partridge Family? Compared to Asin, Tracy was that band's Lennon AND McCartney. Pathetic.

In addition to rote, off-key, half-ass performances, the plot had way, way too many holes. Fine, lots of Bollywood movies do. But the good ones have an emotional truth or at least a tug that renders the plot contrivances sort of beside the point. This film was so paint-by-numbers as far as character development goes that all one can do is focus on how mindless the plot is. Honestly, I think the director revealed true contempt for his audience in foisting upon us such a hackneyed tale.

Back to Ajay: Can you imagine being a fan of such an insufferable prig of a star? Can you imagine picking up a fan magazine or listening to an interview in which he's expounding so pretentiously on his music. I mean, the guy wanted to be a POP STAR, not a great musician or artist. He wanted to play Wembley. THAT was his ambition (and talk about a lame set-up to explain why, WOW did this movie dish up a load of nonsense). Is it any wonder that the fans and the press would prefer Mannu to him?

I can't help but compare this movie to Rock On, which was fifty times more believable and enjoyable. And by the way, did any of you notice just how slapdash so much of the production was? At the end, when they reunite for their huge concert in the round, the background dancers in those red and white costumes moved with less precision than the cast of a suburban American junior high school musical.

Look, I love Bollywood. I love the joy and the music and the actors and all that. But only during the music video-style production number montages did the film come alive. Maybe it's because when Salman Khan appears in a crowd of 50, he's not close-up enough to recoil from.

Enough ranting. I'd just encourage everyone not to reward filmmakers with undue praise for shoddy work, though.

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Tim: Thank you for your visit and comment! I don't think anyone would purposefully praise shoddy work by filmmakers. (Or at least hope they wouldn't.)

There is always room -- and you know this -- in any medium as subjective as film, for major disagreements on the viewers' part. Differing points of view are inherent and only make life interesting.

I'm not a big Ajay Devgan fan, but his acting isn't bad at all. Assuming we agree about his uninvolved performance (and we clearly don't, but let's assume, anyway), isn't it true that there are countless egotisitical pop/rock stars out there who have horrible character and aren't very likeable, but who get tolerated and almost accepted because people have a tremendous liking for their voices or their music?! Haven't we seen that play out over and over again with celebrities who lead troubled lives?

And how can anyone vouch for *every* musician who's made it big, having made it big solely because he/she had the genuine ambition to be a great musician and not the ambition to be a pop star?

It's not as black and white in my eyes, and that's why I'm willing to overlook the plot holes that we agree exist. I think the emotional core is effective.

Finally, Rock On was a lot like Dil Chahta Hai. I don't think this is like Rock On at all. If it is, it is like Saajan (a classic love triangle) and Abhimaan (on artists' relationship issues) too. Don't think it's close, but I can appreciate how and why one would be reminded of the similarities.

Cheers!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Tim.This movie wouldn't go any close to being accepted in any departments for being the best.
I like Ajay D acting in general but this one is the worst ive seen.The way he carried his body was pretty awful and in the dance section he totally sucked..you may go on saying he is a singer in teh film and not a dancer then that wud be trying to be realistic..if that can be realstic thr shudnt be chance for imagination which you mentioned.It was like the director decided to get everything done in a single shot and package it and sell it.
Salman was okay and can be said its him who would can be considered to steer it to play for couple more days with some audience hitting the theatres.

Cheers

Jyotika said...

I went to see this after reading your review. Took my siblings too. We all enjoyed it thoroghly! Thnx, Bolly Fan! THe muziq was fab, sumtimes I think the lyrix just go over the people's heads. Do they ever understand how the songs are so intricately weaved into the story?

Salman rocks! SO sweet.

Joss said...

Well, I don't know what to think now. 'A Wide Angle View of India' has just done a really good post on this film, that put me off it completely. But I trust your judgment too, tBF. So, I guess I'll just have to make up my own mind! I shall start by tracking down the music and if that grabs me I'll go to see the movie. If it's set in London that alone is, of course, a big reason to go see it. My home town. So weird when I see Bollywood movies filmed there.

When are you going to review Blue, please? You surely have seen it by now. We're waiting ... :)

tim said...

Dear the BollywoodFan --

Thanks for responding to my comments, or rather to my rant. I'm honored that you'd take the time to consider my thoughts.

I agree that the movie is quite different from Rock On in many ways, but both films hinged on the viewers being able to put themselves in the place of the fans, as audience members at a concert, as buyers of music, etc. As I recall, Rock On's performance scenes whipped up some excitement; the stars actually radiated charisma. I could have forgiven most everything else if London Dreams had succeeded on that count.

Can I ask you a favor? Can you explain to me the appeal of Salman Khan, or perhaps refer me to an article or posting that addresses it? I'm not trying to be flip. I'm really trying to understand. If you tell me, "Well, you really have to be Indian to appreciate him" or "It's not so much any one performance that people like, it's his body of work and evolution as an actor that engenders such affection," I can easily accept that. Perhaps his appeal simply doesn't cross cultures that way I believe SRKs or Hrithik Roshan's can.

If you told me that SK has become a Govinda-like performer -- silly, energetic, catering to the less sophisticated segment of audience members, not taking himself so seriously -- maybe I can see that. But for the life of me, I find him loud, obvious and (as I said before) very, very difficult to look at. Again, maybe something is lost in the translation; maybe there's a quality to his acting that I can't discern.

And clearly other fans don't find him unattractive the way I do. Actually, it's not even that I find him unattractive; I find him UNHEALTHY. The idea that anyone would want to emulate his diet/exercise/drug regimen distresses me. We shouldn't reward someone who has abused their body like that. Yes, many actors do the same thing, but not quite to the degree that Salman has. He has crossed a line into irresponsible body modification.

Anyway, thanks for reading. I'm going to try to figure out what I'm missing about Salman Khan, and I will treat Ajay Devgan's performance as a "mulligan." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mulligan). I won't count this one. Instead, I'll look for his next performance to be a return to form.

theBollywoodFan said...

Anonymous: Hi there! You've got it, I have a hard time blaming Ajay for being a bad dancer here. But then, as you say, I would rather have a singer focus on singing than dancing when performing live. Besides, I was probably looking at Asin and the way she carried herself more! =)

The music to London Dreams is the best integrated of any soundtrack this year, from among the films I've seen. The soundtrack is also the best written. And Salman's is one of the best performances I've seen all year. So we'll have to agree to disagree on some of its merits. :)


Tim and Anonymous: Just curious, have you attended a concert in Europe or North America featuring a South Asian band? (E.g. perhaps Junoon or Jal?)

theBollywoodFan said...

Jyotika! Really glad you enjoyed it! And Salman does rock, it's great to have him back in form! Completely agree with you on the music. It's in the words -- they're perfectly suited to the situations throughout, from the first song to the last.


Hi Joss! Anyone from London would be a lot more proud of this film when compared to someone from L.A. and a film based here that released earlier this year (that and Blue will be discussed in the next post, you have my word)! That alone isn't saying much. If you don't enjoy the music to London Dreams, and aren't a Salman fan, you're probably better off waiting for the DVD. Those two factors were most influential in my viewing experience.

theBollywoodFan said...

(All, please feel free to chime in here.)

Tim! Thanks again for stopping by. See, many of us (and I mean legions!) would say Salman's charisma is his biggest asset, and that he alone radiates more energy through screen presence than the guys from Rock On combined. You've kind of hit the nail on the head with your thoughts. Salman, or 'Style Bhai' as he is fondly known, is simply 'cool'. Good luck defining that!

Here's something to think about: How many Salman Khan or Aamir Khan films can you think of right away in which they played an Indian living abroad? There aren't that many. There's a school of thought (to which I subscribe as well) which says that SRK and Hrithik are more popular outside of India precisely because many of their films (relatively) have targeted Indians living abroad a lot more vertically, by having these actors play a Non-Resident Indian (NRI), living amongst and interacting with non-Indian people.

Of course, that's not to say Salman or Aamir films don't do well (or aren't intended to do well) outside of India, or that SRK and Hrithik films based in India aren't successful. Of course, there have been plenty both ways. And Bollywood is more global today than it's ever been. But this is just to get us started, because I do believe the cross-cultural effects are a big part of it. They will naturally be -- they know their audience well and target them accordingly.

To appreciate Salman's appeal, one must check out his films from 1989 through around 1995. He had super hit after super hit for several years, doing what SRK's made a career of since. Salman was immensely popular in India back then. (I was there to witness it, none from his generation more popular and loved among the masses than the guy in India back then, probably holds true today.) And that's really the spectrum through which the Indian population will always view him, and justifiably so. He's been very well liked, and has always been quite a public darling, despite every imaginable insult hurled at him from all corners.

Anyway, so my theory is that somewhere, he probably got bored with the genre of films he overwhelmingly favored through the first few years of his career, and decided that he'd rather be entertaining the Indian masses with goofy comedies. The comparison to Govinda is not entirely unwarranted. He's done real well since this change came about (which almost coincided with his new, muscular look).

Somehow, without delivering many hits at all throughout this decade, he's managed to only increase his popularity. That's a true celebrity. He now also hosts a TV game show (called '10 Ka Dum') which has consistently garnered much better TV ratings than shows hosted by any other Bollywood celebrity, including one hosted by SRK (the only exception might be Amitabh Bachchan, so don't quote me on the Big B).

As for Salman's physique -- I'll disagree! Might not be the healthiest to be like that because of the sheer amount of time that must be devoted to it, but gosh, he has had among the best built bodies in the business for the longest! (More recently, check out the trailers of Wanted, for example.)

Well, so that's my take. It'd be interesting to get others' opinions too while we're at it! :)

bollywoodfoodclub said...

Nawab! Adab!

OK, well I haven't seen Wanted or London Dreams since I didn't have too big of an interest in those, lekin, my dost Tim went and I have accused him of disliking Salman-bhai so much that perhaps he secretly loves him! So I have made my own small *sorry to Shweta the Salman lover if she's reading :)* list of when Salman's performances made me think he was pretty hot:

1. "Maine Pyaar Kiya" in particular the "I Love What!?" scene:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3790376904968396604#

2. When he's outcast into the desert in "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam" (1999) in the Tadap Tadap number:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAivrIeSo_M&feature=PlayList&p=383BF1660060A2C4&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=54

3. And I recall even in the movie that wasn't so great to me, "Saawariya" contained a very, very, very attractive Salman. Everytime he appeared I thought he was HOT! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOn5mPuS00A

So there Tim, I hope that helps explain it, from one gori to a gora, since even I am not the biggest Salman fan and found him attractive in these performances. Seems like I like when he plays a serious jerk who has been hurt vs. the wacky Salman roles.

All the best!
Sita-ji

bollywoodfoodclub said...

p.s. Like theBollywoddFan mentioned, check out Salman on "10 Ka Dum" which I've only seen bits of on youtube and on TV on my brief trip to India, but he was very entertaining on that show. Tim, perhaps you need a set of "10 Ka Dum" shows on DVD to set thing right between you and Salmanbhai. :)

All the best!
Sita-ji

Darshit said...

First, Rock On can not be compared with this at all. Its like you are comparing Troy and Pearl Harbor, just because both had 'war' as similar factor between them. No doubt Rock On was really a well made movie. But somehow it did not carry the Bollywood flavor. It looked more like a sophisticated Gloss made exclusively for upper middle class. Never it did gain overall popularity. It could not connect everyone from masses to classes. Which London Dream's scenario does.

Appeal of Salman Khan is visible all over, If you want to see. Very next day I was in an Auto Rickshaw, there was a big poster of him in it. ON the other day, I saw a big crowd of Multiplex audience, especially girls, shouting for him all over the theater. If you ask girls or even women, 80% will say their favorite is salman. Yes, not Hrithik. John is ahead of Hrithik. I do like Hrithik. But I think he has one of the worst body. HIs is very imbalanced body in Bollywood. His biceps are way too big with proportion to his torso. Where Salman has really been maintaining his body, and at age of 43, what more can you expect?? [no 6pack fuss here]

And all the popularity he has got and maintained - after criminal cases against him!! Never has his popularity graph got down.May be that will explain the 'appeal' :)

SRK and at somewhat level Hrithik too, are betting on NRI factors. They have standardized their movies to feature NRI background, Love to India - song and much more. So that they can play safe to get dollars and pounds. On the contrary I find SRK amongst hated guy back here in India. Though I am a fan of his typical Romantic movies, I can say that there are way more fans of Salman then SRK does.

And whats with Govinda? He has not even maintained his body. And how can he match Salman intensity? You ought see Salman in Khamoshi-The Musical, Maine Pyar Kiya, Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, Jaan E Mann, Lucky and many more out there. Its a pleasure to see how he can flawlessly act from Happy go lucky guy, to someone who's so mature. He has been so versatile in his career. Which hardly actors of his generation could have done. [read Govinda and others] And never he has got 'bad' style syndrome. he has been named Style Bhai since 1989.

Never he was so loud I think. In a crap movie like Partner, he was so cool unlike Govinda. Also in London Dreams, Salman was so much himself. Unlike rubbish OTT Akshay Kumar in Namastey London. It give me creeps when I see it. I never liked OTT punjabi guys in movies, but Salman made me love the character with his own style.

and Ajay, well, the styling and camerawork made me believe he is a rock star. But yes, he has performed well over here too. Given he is overshadowed by flawless performance of Salman, he has made his presence felt.

Enough said, its your own choice, love him or hate him, Salman is here to stay.

Darshit said...

@bollywoodfoodclub
It would sound silly, but I was not able to sleep when I got a shock in Hum Dil De chuke sanam, when in climax Salman ....[you know what happened]. He was so so real in the scene. Couldn't hold the tears.

tim said...

Thanks, Darshit, for your very thoughtful comments. You're really helping me understand why I should perhaps reserve judgment about Salman Khan. Clearly, he's much loved for very good reasons.

All I can say is that his appeal, sadly, does not necessarily cross the cultural barriers that separate global audiences

You asked me, "What's with Govinda?" Well, through my cultural filter, SK appears to have become Govinda!!

Not physically, of course. Govinda has allowed his body to age in a natural course, whereas SK is killing himself with steroids. The similarity, in my eyes, rests in the tonality of their screen personas: Both SK and Govinda give performances that are broad, loud, somewhat buffoonish (sorry,Darshit!!!), sentimental, guileless, etc.

Of course, I understand that I can only pick up on visual and tonal cues, since I don't understand Hindi, Telugu, etc. When you say that Salman Khan is a good actor, I must defer to your judgment -- or at least reconsider my own judgments.

(That said, I do feel very strongly that I CAN judge the acting skills of certain performers. For example, I think Atul Kulkarni is magnificent. So are Amitabh and Irrfan Khan. I'm not sure if Aruna Irani is that great, but she ROCKED "Beta.")

Anyway, thanks for your very thoughtfully and kindly articulated comments. I have a lot to learn from you (and our friend the BollywoodFan....and maybe even my dostess with the mostest, Sitaji.)

Tim

theBollywoodFan said...

Adab Sita-ji! ROTFL at the accusation, that's got you written all over it! As does the 'I Love What' scene from Maine Pyaar Kiya, with your signature, "All the best!" :D

Love the first half of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, hated the second half. Perhaps London Dreams makes up slightly for that. And 'serious jerk'? Seriously? J/K. :)


Darshit: Couldn't agree with you more on about everything. You're right about the majority of women loving Salman most, I get the sense too. Hey, the guy's dated Aishwarya AND Katrina, kuch toh dum hai ;) Really like the point about bringing the classes and masses together, it's very true.

I really like Partner! And it's interesting (and fair) Govinda credits Salman for resurrecting his career!

theBollywoodFan said...

Tim: I think comedy, not Salman or Govinda, is inherently more difficult to translate across cultures. (Wrote about some of it in this post on my favorite comedy, Andaz Apna Apna).

Book recommendation here: Great Comedians Talk about Comedy (Larry Wilde) A reader review I agree with:

"A key theme: how "making it" in comedy requires timing, good material, dogged persistence, constant analysis of jokes/laughs and being LIKEABLE to an audience. Copying someone's stage personna or stealing their jokes just won't do it."

I'd say Salman fits each of these! Again, the comedy involves not only the language specifics, but also heavy culture-specific references. Govinda in the 1980s was a top-5 hero, before he switched to silly comedy. If you're really interested, perhaps watching Salman's earlier films might help, since they focus on more universal themes?

Dude, Atul Kulkarni is a phenomenal actor, but his goals are so very different from Salman's! It's all coulda-shoulda-woulda here, but he wouldn't pull off a Salman in London Dreams/Wanted/Partner/Judwaa. Salman's a much better entertainer than an actor, that's his value sell.

Good luck with your Bollywood discoveries! We can all learn so much from each other, it's fun to discuss. So which are your favorite Hindi films? Any genre/actor/director you follow in particular?

Cheers.

bollywoodfoodclub said...

Dosto! Adab! Namaste!

BollywoodFan-ji, the great shanti maker, thought provoker of Hindi cinema, shukriya for the platform of discussion, bhai.

Darshit, sitting right there, LIVE in the middle of India said it well: "Enough said, its your own choice, love him or hate him, Salman is here to stay." And Darshit, Salman's acting at the end of HDDCK is fantastic too. The only part I didn't like was his goofy shirtless towel dance. Thanks for all the insight into the
Salman's popularity there. Enjoyed the story about the movie poster swooning women.

Yo Tim! Yaar, ain't no Indian cinema gotta even try to bridge any cultural divide, nor is that the point, we go to them, get it? It's their game, not the ours, that's the attitude that makes the world mad with us. ;)

Now, regardless of our cultural divide, I bet you're all wondering, "Sita-ji, which one of these guys mentioned in the comments above would you like to wrestle with?"

Let me share:

FOR SURE GOVINDA!

Followed by in this order, which even surprises me:
Salman
Irfan
Atul
John
Hrithik
SRK

Who would I like to have a "gori extra on the movie set secret affair" with? (btw, I would NEVER do such a thing, since I have the moral values of my namesake, Sita)


GOVINDA!
Atul
Irfan
John
Salman
Hrithik
SRK


Finally, I'd have my "imaginary arranged marriage" with, in this order:

JOHN (I think a pagal Parsi would best understand this Catholic, wanna be Hindu-Muslim-Buddhist)

Atul
Irfan
Govinda
Salman
SRK
Hrithik (yaar, I couldn't explain that thumb all the time to everyone)

Thanks for this platform for my crazy break from work. Back to work!

All the best!
Sita-ji

Viva Salu!

tim said...

Sitaji speaks with a degree of cultural sensitivity that I have yet to achieve. All I can do is try to learn, understand and evolve -- and beg forgiveness for foisting my unfortunate combination of ignorance and arrogance upon the BollywoodFan, Darshit, and other readers. I hope as well that I did not embarrass Sitaji. Salman Khan is indeed here to stay; whether I like or dislike him is unimportant; and it was impertinent of me to expect anyone to care whether his appeal crosses the cultural divide between India and the United States. As Sitaji points out, I am missing the point. All I can do is try harder to shed the assumptions, biases and chauvinism that not only make the world mad at America, but irritated with ME! In the meantime, I beg your indulgence. I SHALL evolve!

theBollywoodFan said...

Adab Sita-ji: Array, shukriya to you for participating! I know (or hope, LOL) you're only kidding about cinema not trying to bridge cultural divides. Not the primary purpose, but art, more than anything, does that job relatively seamlessly!

Interesting lists, I can't believe GOVINDA makes it atop most! I like John for your imaginary arranged marriage, that'd mean Bips and I could hang out at the beach again! Hey, if that guy Uday Chopra (I feel about him what Tim feels about Salman, LOL. Although mentioning the two of them in the same sentence is akin to blasphemy; Salman's sustained Top-3 status for two decades!) had a shot at Bips in Dhoom:2, I truly fancy my chances. =)

Viva Sallu!


Tim: Please, no harm in voicing an opinion myself or others disagree with (as long as it's done somewhat respectfully).

I'd reckon Salman or any other actors who care about the audience would be the first ones to say it matters to them whether film viewers like or dislike them, and why. Drops to an ocean!

Don't think it's impertinent to expect others to care about cross-cultural appeal. Not at all! Although it is, as we'd discussed above, important to formulate opinions based on the filmmakers' or actors' intents. Just like we benchmark performance to preset goals!

And it's always a challenge for *everyone* to shed assumptions and biases. We all have our biases. Acknowledging their existence is probably 80% of battle won! ;)

theBollywoodFan said...

All: While we're discussing Salman and comedy, here's something that just showed up in my inbox, courtesy Rajshri. The following is verbatim from the e-mail:

---------

Comedy Contest!!
Hi Friends,

Rajshri Media (P) Limited has come up with Duniya Ko Hasao Comedy Contest. All you have to do is shoot a funny video of yourself or your surroundings. Feel free to shoot the way you like - video camera, mobile phone, webcam anything and upload it on Rajshri.com. You can also send us a DVD.

Please visit http://www.rajshri.com/duniyakohasao for more information.

The winner gets an opportunity to act in a Rajshri feature film or TV show.

So who knows you might become a star and all you have to do is to make us laugh!

Watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55eW8dfxuHM

Happy Viewing!

Rajshri Team

bollywoodfoodclub said...

@ Tim
And now, All I can think of Tim, is to find the perfect Salman movie for you to see that will turn you into a fan. That's the kind of challenge I'm up for! I'm going to find it and we shall watch it. I like the Bollywood flip best, not liking and actor, and then making the sudden change due to one great role that speaks to me.
All the best!
Sita-ji

Nicki said...

Wow! First of all, I'm jealous that you got to see the film with Shweta. Second of all, another yah for Salman! :) I adore Asin and Ajay is a good actor.

theBollywoodFan said...

Sita-ji! I like your resolve! ;) Check out the comments at this post on 'Wanted' for some Salman recommendations by me, Darshit and Pitu, several if not all of which I'm sure you've seen.

There's probably a Salman movie for most imaginable preferences (unless those are horror/sci-fi, in which case one might as well not bother with Hindi films).


Nicki: Always fun to catch a movie with Shweta! If you're ever out here, we've got to catch a film together. Salman's been on a roll this year. I've been looking forward to 'Veer' for a while, hear it releases in January! Can't imagine that kind of film wouldn't benefit from his presence!

Anonymous said...

Adab Bollywoodfanji

I saw this movie last night after seeing your 4/5 marks. I read your review this morning only after seeing the movie. Yes it is a good movie. However I found several loopholes including technical ones (though i don't know much about film making and am only a viewer). I don't know if it was the editing or camera angles that Asin did not have much to do in most of the song scenes (yes her role was limited due to the story and screen play). There were moments where you only saw the awkward end part of her dance movements in some of the songs. In the movie she asks "Mein Kya Karrongi"? when she is told she too is part of the band. Vipul Shah could have atleast give some focus on her dance movements on the stage during the songs (she did well in the scene where she switches between Bharatnatyam and Hip Hop). In other scenes also it looked like Vipul wanted to hurry up with key scenes involving Asin. Also she looked tired (esp reflected in a person's eyes) in many of the scenes. No wonder there have been recent press reports about collapsing.

In all Asin was wasted and didn't have an opportunity to show her enormous acting talent. Some of the bollybloggers are right in their observation that movies down south give better a chance to heroines in showing their talent. I will send you some recos on her good movies down south if u r interested.

Yes Salman did a good job (I am not a big fan of his but i do like him in some of his films) and some of the dialgoues were funny like angrez se badla lena ka mauka mila hai said in total jest and also in some of the serious scenes like salman tells the girl that he wants to "drink rasam with chennai express" and not daru.

Anon from DU!

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi! I might have said this before, but I'm absolutely very guilty of having stayed away from South Indian films of Asin, Tabu, and Genilia. I recently bought the Tamil Ghajini, so that's upcoming. Definitely, please let me (and others) know of more where Asin especially gets to be in the spotlight!

Completely agree that she doesn't have much to do in London Dreams, besides look good. Really like your idea about perhaps using her more in the dance routines too. Hey, if Michael Jackson could do it in the video to 'Black or White', London Dreams should've found a way! :) That one scene in which she switches between Bharatnatyam and hip hop was a lot of fun. But then, she did say she was more into hip hop and not traditional Indian. Why she needed to slim down, as has been reported, is beyond me. Not all women rock/pop stars are skinny. Oh, well. I hope it's not true about her collapsing on the sets because of her diet for the film. And I hope she gets more and better roles in Bollywood.

Salman totally made this movie worthwhile for me. Those comedy portions were fun to see. Without them, yes, even just *trying* to ignore the loopholes would've been difficult.

Thanks for your visit and comment!

Anonymous said...

TBF

I would again strongly recommend Tabu's tamil film "Kadal Desam" with Abbas and Raja. I think it was a 1997 movie (from memory). A refreshing modern tale of true friendship among three young people. Tabu looked really great and did a good job too.

Off hand I can immediately recollect Asin's telugu movie "Amma, Nana and oka Tamil Amayee" (Mom, Dad and a Tamil Girl) with Ravi Teja. I will suggest other movies soon

cheers

Anon from DU

theBollywoodFan said...

Thank you Anon from DU! 'Kadal Desam' and 'Amma, Nana and oka Tamil Amayee' sound real cool, I hope to be able to find them during my next purchasing bout! Shall hope to keep you posted. Thank you once again!

Moi said...

Hi, theBollywoodFan, I enjoyed reading your review of London Dreams, with which I agree completely.

However, I am posting here to respond to Tim's request to understand Salman Khan's appeal. I think the best I can do now is to give you a link to a site that extensively discusses his career and his appeal. It's a bit out of date (the last film discussed is Partner), but I think it is still useful reading. It is quite long though, so be warned, but, if you want an exhaustive discussion of Salman, this is a good place to start.

Here is the link: http://www.salmanmania.com/bio.htm

I want to add a couple of other points, but don't have time now, so hope to come back and post again. In the meantime, the above link should keep Tim and other interested readers busy. :)

Moi said...

Just to add to my previous comment, I realized that link I gave is very long -- for someone who is interested in learning about his roles and films, especially if someone looking for recommendations, it will be good, but if you just want to know about his stardom, I suggest you go to the last part of that write up, at:

http://www.salmanmania.com/Biography/sal-the-star.htm

And, here's a writeup by someone who is not a Salman fan, from a site that is supposed to be for serious lovers of serious cinema.
It is shorter, but it also acknowledges Salman's stardom, though perhaps doesn't go deeply into the reasons for it:

http://passionforcinema.com/salman-khan-the-real-superstar/

tim said...

Moi -- THANKS for the link. I'm going to dive right in. Please post again with more thoughts! Tim

theBollywoodFan said...

Moi: Hello and welcome to the blog! Thank you for your comment, and thank you for the links! Neat tribute you've got going there.

I agree completely on the press coverage against Salman almost always, through two decades now, being extremely (in the true sense of the word) biased against him. (Heck, they haven't spared his family or his girlfriend, which is a shame.) And I also agree that maintaining the level of popularity despite that can only truly be the work of a superstar. Aamir on 10 Ka Dum last year alluded to that.

Do stop by again. And thank you, again.

Tim: Hey there! Thanks for your visit and comment. :) Seen any Hindi films lately?

Moi said...

theBollywoodFan, thank you for your welcome. I have been catching up with your archived reviews, and see that you are very passionate about Hindi films. :)

Tim, I had typed up something like a 1000 word response to you, and, just as I was proofreading it before posting, Windows Vista killed it by abruptly shutting down! :( It is now lost, lost forever. Maybe in a couple of days I will have the energy to try to recreate it. So please excuse me for now.

Pitu said...

I didn't like much. Were it not for Sallumiya, I would hated it. He was indeed a joy to watch, simply adorable. But hated everything (and everyone else).

theBollywoodFan said...

Moi: Thank you, hope you find enough to keep you engaged :)

Pitu! I definitely weighed Salman's performance a lot more in this, as you can tell :) London Dreams worked only because of him.

Saadia said...

Moi is a Salman fan, through and through. And let me say, I believe London Dreams was one of his best performances to-date. I thought the storyline was weak, here and there, but overall, a good product and some great input by Sallu bhai.

*thunderous applause*

theBollywoodFan said...

Yay! Glad you agree on Salman, Saadia (and good to have you back). This movie would have been very different without him. Agree on this being one of his best performances, I like that he did Wanted and London Dreams this year, with Veer upcoming in January. Have you seen the trailers for Veer? I think they are quite good.

Cheers.

marina said...

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The location of the movies is finalised...they are getting shot in London by Shahrukh Khan company Red Chilies entertainment.