The first time I heard the title of his new movie, I asked Remo D'Souza, can anybody [and everybody] dance? But you get the response while surfing television channels: Dance-based shows have become a prerequisite for the programming department of most channels. From kids to young couples to even senior citizens, these dance-based shows feature just about anyone and everyone with the passion for dance. There's no 'age limit', frankly. Come to think of it, music and dance are an integral part of our culture and day-to-day life. We love dancing, don't we? Dancing on the streets, during weddings, birthday celebrations, festivals... we also break into a dance when India wins a crucial cricket match against a strong opponent.
Bollywood doesn't have the tradition of making out-and-out dance-based movies, like Hollywood does with amazing regularity. At a point of time, B. Subhash did attempt a film or two starring Mithun Chakraborty [DISCO DANCER, DANCE DANCE]. Also NACHE MAYURI, featuring Sudha Chandran. But ABCD - ANY BODY CAN DANCE is the first of its kind that's set against the backdrop of a dance competition. Does it ring a bell? Does it borrow from the STEP UP series? Perhaps, Remo may be motivated by the Hollywood film franchise, but he Indianizes it well enough, garnishing it with emotions that we can identify with and of course, choosing some of the best dancers for pivotal parts, besides casting Prabhu Dheva and Ganesh Acharya. Plus, this one's in 3D.
Of course, there are hiccups [more on that later], but the triumph of the underdog, if attempted with conviction, seldom fails. And ABCD - ANY BODY CAN DANCE does have its share of moments that work!
For Vishnu [Prabhu Dheva], dance is more than a passion -- it's the reason he lives! So when he finds himself thrown out from the dance academy he himself set up by his manipulative business partner [Kay Kay Menon], it feels like the oxygen has been sucked out from the air he breathes. Heart-broken, Vishnu decides to give up dance and leave Mumbai forever.
However, the night before his departure, he witnesses a most amazing sight -- a group of raw talent preparing for the upcoming dance competition during the Ganeshotsav. An annual festival that pits Mumbai's best dance groups against each other. Watching the amazing dancers helps Vishnu arrive at a decision. He decides to take this disparate group under his wing, help them overcome their personal rivalries and past demons and turn them into India's best dance squad!
Ideally, a well-known choreographer would make his directorial debut with a dance-based film, but after making a statement on the education system in F.A.L.T.U. [his first Hindi film, after attempting a Bengali film], Remo's second Hindi outing ABCD â€“ ANY BODY CAN DANCE revolves around dance and dancers. Naturally then, ABCD - ANY BODY CAN DANCE boasts of some spectacular dance pieces, with Remo bringing alive estimable vigor, energy and imagination on the big screen. He blends the emotional quotient with dance and music and presto! You can't take your eyes off the screen every time a dance breaks out.
ABCD - ANY BODY CAN DANCE's biggest strength lies in the variety of dances that Remo presents to the spectators. Where the film falters is in its skeletal plotline, although writer Tushar Hiranandani comes up with several knockout sequences. But there's no denying that the screenwriting deviates into the conventional and foreseeable zone in the second hour. The curse of the second half [most films run out of steam in the post-interval portions] looms large here too, as Remo resorts to clichÃ©s to carry the story forward. Besides, the film is stretched by at least 15/20 minutes. Thankfully, the narrative gathers steam once again towards the closing portions and the dance competition in the finale is simply breathtaking.
The comparisons with F.A.L.T.U. would be foolhardy, since the two films belong to diverse genres, but Remo shows ample growth and confidence as a storyteller in ABCD â€“ ANY BODY CAN DANCE. A few emotional and dramatic moments are the mainstay of the enterprise, while the sequences featuring the dancing talent are attention-grabbing as well. The real test lies in making the dancers [new talent] act. The gamble of casting dancers in pivotal parts seems to have worked, since most of them take to their parts with confidence.
Sachin-Jigar create a winsome soundtrack for the film, complimenting the theme of the movie. 'Bezuban' is, without a shred of doubt, the pick of the lot and its choreography is breathtaking. Also, the track during the end credits, featuring greats such as Saroj Khan, Prabhu Dheva, Ganesh Acharya and of course, Remo, is another crackling number. The Ganeshotsav song in also stays with you. The choreography of each song and dance piece deserves distinction marks. It's truly inventive and pop out from all kinds of places. The camerawork is perfect, while the 3D may seem gimmicky at times, but accentuates the impact of several scenes, especially the dance pieces.
Prabhu Dheva returns to the acting arena after a hiatus. Regarded as the dance legend by many, Prabhu is, expectedly, incomparable in dances, but the good news is that he handles the dramatic scenes well too. It's all the more significant since he's pitted against no less than Kay Kay Menon, a tremendous talent. Kay Kay is, as always, natural to the core, essaying his part with flourish. Ganesh Acharya is a revelation. He's efficient in a significant role.
The film introduces several new talents on the big screen, but Dharmesh, Salman and Punit Pathak catch your eye the most. Lauren Gottlieb is alright.
On the whole, ABCD - ANY BODY CAN DANCE has some incredible, eye-popping dances as its soul. While the template may be conventional -- the triumph of the underdog -- the film has its share of moments that stay with you, especially the concluding portions of the film. Decent watch!