Thursday 8 March 2012. This day had been highlighted in my diary a good couple of weeks beforehand. For one, it marked the second half of Holi (Hindu festival of colours) and, secondly, it was the day of the premiere of ‘7 Welcome to London’. As I entered the cinema, I couldn’t help but notice the red carpet laid out and the Dhol players ready to do their business. I felt excited and also a little sense of pride. It was a little odd to think the star of the show, Asad Shan, was someone I knew personally. I knew of the hard work and effort that had gone into the making of the movie and how much of a dream come true this was for him.
The premiere, which took place on the eve of the movie’s official release, saw many well-known names in attendance from Mumzy Stranger to Ray Panthaki. Asad and Sabeeka arrived amidst the sound of the Dhols and among what sounded and felt like much fanfare. Sabeeka looked stunning in an Orange-tinted dress with silver diamante detail. Asad looked his usual dapper self. With huge smiles on their faces, they walked towards the press on the red carpet to give them a few quotes before the screening of the movie took place.
After a little time, everyone was seen queuing to get their seats for the movie. As we all settled down in our respective spots, out came the lovely Anushka Arora, the hostess with the mostess. She announced that Asad and Sabeeka were due to join her at the front for a few choice words before the start. Asad and Sabeeka entered to much applause and both expressed the importance of the movie. They hoped that the audience would enjoy the movie.
As mentioned in my interview with Asad (http://bit.ly/zKBNzl), the movie is about an Indian immigrant who comes to the UK in search of a new life and fresh prospects. He makes friends quickly and very early on stumbles upon the lady who becomes the love of his life. The narrative moves on when he is forced to pull up his socks for some commitments he cannot shy away from and it is one phonecall which changes the course of his life…
The Good – I’ve got to put my hand on my heart and say, for me, the best thing about this movie lies in its soundtrack. I commend Asad on the music he so carefully chose. Whether it be ‘Tera Saath Ho’, ‘Mera Mann’, ‘Rog’ or any of the other songs in the soundtrack, it’s hard to pinpoint how any other soundtrack could have been better for the kind of message the film seeks to portray. Hats off!
The Not-So-Good – I think it would be wrong to say that there was anything absolutely horrendous about this movie because, quite frankly, there wasn’t. The criticism (if you can call it that) that I would have is that I found myself switching off a little in the scenes leading up to the climax.
Special mentions – I would like to give two very special mentions in relation to ‘7 Welcome to London’. There are two things about the movie which stayed with me. The first was the portrayal of the love story between the two protagonists, Jai and Simran. I’ve got to say I was a little apprehensive and wondered how a film such as this would be able to keep a love angle which would be fresh as well as easy to identify with but it seemed to tick both of those boxes. The second mention goes to the actor who plays Goldie (you’ll have to watch the movie to know how the character fits in) played by the talented Aliakbar Campwala. He totally stole the show according to me!
In conclusion, I’ve got to say that Asad’s effort is commendable but somewhere along the line seems to fall short. The cinematography and Asad’s perfectionist approach is well and truly there for all to see and the characters are all well etched out. Perhaps the single (and most annoying) drawback is that it kind of tries to fit very neatly between the Bollywood and Hollywood genres. There have been other movies in the last couple of years which have endeavoured to do the same and have ended up with a somewhat mixed response from the audiences. Once again, the difference with ‘7 Welcome to London’ is that it doesn’t originate in the sub-continent and neither does it try to behave like it did. For this one-man effort and an absolutely rocking soundtrack, I think Asad deserves a round of applause and much love. I, for one, can honestly say that I await his future ventures with eagerness.
Photo credit: Raj Baddhan (thank you!)