Mayank Shekhar | Last Modified - Feb 09, 2013, 12:28 PM IST
I’m not sure if anybody can dance. Being not much of a dance enthusiast myself, given that I could sit through this movie, almost in awe of the performers on screen, rolling on the floor, delivering crazy steps one after another: Anybody can watch this film, I can tell you that.
The worst of Bollywood movies essentially are a collection of music videos. The dance sequences have nothing to do with the plot. Barring Hrithik Roshan or Shahid Kapur, India’s best known leading men can barely move their feet. This is odd, since the soundtrack and choreography are the reasons some of their films exist in the first place. It’s surprising then that nobody yet had thought of just doing away with all these sad hero types and moronic screenplays, and making a whole film with actual hardcore dancers instead. Both choreography and music will begin to make more sense. You will be more forgiving towards story or plot and enjoy the film for its actual worth. This is one of those films.
ABCD puts together a group of really talented street dancers with bodies that defy elasticity. The film bears a simple trajectory: one dance number follows another. This allows actors to show off their best moves. Under the care of the great Prabhudeva – the Moonwalker from Madras – and trained by choreographer and director Remo, none of these young ones disappoint. Some of their moves are mesmerising. They ultimately make the movie worth the while.
As a dance instructor, Prabhudeva’s character gets thrown out from a popular, expensive dance academy, because, I suppose, he can’t get along with the owner. Kay Kay Menon plays that villain Jehangir, in bluish contact lenses and hair styled as Shah Rukh Khan’s G.One from RA.One. Jehangir can rig dance reality shows on television. He doesn’t need Prabhudeva’s commitment to art for his school to do well. As he tells Prabhudeva: In a classroom, you make 50 students dance, in the real world, “mein 500 logon ko nachata hoon.”
The case for revenge drama is set. So is the under-dog story. But it is still more realistically portrayed. You might miss Amrish Puri. But hey, that’s okay! Prabhudeva recruits young boys and girls from the slums forming a team of dancers with rare natural talent. The story thereafter rolls like a stone with a stumbling block every few minutes: one of the boys’ fathers doesn’t approve of his interest in dance, cops shut down the warehouse where the kids practice, there are problems between the two main groups in this school.... These are minor distractions. The filmmaker seldom loses sight of the ball. Which is to pump up the volume, crank up the bass, and get the boys and a few girls to show us the skills they're best at: “body wave”, “mirror walk”, “rope sling”, these are terms that a dance enthusiast in the audience acquainted me with. A lot of people go to films like these to learn new steps. I’m not an expert to verify if there’s anything new. The music of course is very derivative. But as an average viewer, you can tell even the fight scenes and chase sequences are beautifully choreographed.
Quite in line with the Step Up series, the film borrows heavily from Hollywood dance genre flicks. You could replace the Bombay sums with black American ghettos. For authenticity, the filmmakers introduce the Ganesh Visarjan as the playground for great steps. This is where every year the Indian male practices his dance moves, out on the street, under the clear blue sky, and a lot of alcohol. The other place is the Indian wedding. There is no sight uglier than a group of Indian males gyrating and thrusting their breasts.
Until now they have largely been inspired by Mithunda and Govinda from the ‘80s. Whether ot not you make it to Dance India Dance, this is a much better film to learn from, and aim higher. If not, like me, you can sit back and enjoy the show, on television, or behind a 3D glass, it certainly won't disappoint you for what it is.