At one point in this heart warming journey into the life and trials of this Bollywood struggler a kid in the school, where our struggler-hero teaches dancing, wonders how their teacher ji manages to wear such trendy tee-shirts when he lives in a car and has no money for food.
“Arrey , those are duplicates of branded tee-shirts, you can get them at Rs 150 on the pavement,” retorts a know-all kid.
That one fleeting moment sums up what Chance Pe Dance strives to squeeze into two-hour of fluid playing-time. The struggle for stardom is done on such a glamorized level of self-actualization so that the audience accepts these liberties for the pleasure of watching good-looking people look presentable in situations where they would otherwise appear unbecoming.
On the credit titles we see our struggler-hero prepare for another day of self selling to an unthinking entertainment industry, when one sees a slightly seamless splendour lurking at the heart of this film about a Dilliwallah’s struggle to become a star in the Big Bad Bollywood.
Cliched theme? Yup! But sometime some of the most endearing truths of life emerge from situations that work in a direction opposite to the originality.
The fact that Shahid plays the struggler helps. It really helps. Here’s an enormously watchable actor who can take away the ‘acting’ from a character and just make you look at what is being said and done on screen without the baggage of his personal life being carried forward.
Shahid’s character, Samir, in the film is a struggler in all its shades. Samir, has defiantly left for Bollywood while his dad (Parikshat Sahni, endearing) is left wondering why his son needs to be a film hero in the first place (Bollywood).
Shahid goes through the predictable grind, but with such extraordinary sincerity and involvement, you suddenly realize the one truth about life’s vagaries. Every struggle no matter how similar on the surface is different underneath.
Shahid brings out all the shades, nuances and layers in the struggler’s inner world without bending the rules of commercial herogiri. This is a far better performance than it outwardly seems.
Whether romancing the funny girl-next-door (okay, a few block away)manifesting the disappointments of a struggler who’s getting emotionally worn-out waiting for the big moment, or interacting with the kids in school(the director is almost as good with these angels from hell as Shekhar Kapoor in Mr India)Shahid just goes with the flow with a fluidity that goes beyond the dance-floor.
Oh, about Shahid’s dancing, is there a better dancer in the film industry today?
The slim but confident plot moves smoothly on the surface. This one is a rom-com with a pleasing pungent flavour of Mumbai’s sorrowful underbelly hidden, but palpable.
While Shahid struggles for stardom the narrative glides along at its own even pace seeking out the wannabe star’s life as homeless road-dweller who sleeps in his car, and smirks at life’s cruelties.
There are very few characters in the plot. Satish Shah, Mohnish Behl and Vikas Bhalla who come and go like images seen from a moving train. Director Ken Ghosh keeps the narrative free of complexities beyond the struggler’s immediate preoccupations. And that suits the film’s moderate temperature just fine.
Some moments especially with the kids, exude the warmth like rays of sunshine peeping through a partially open door. Watch the sequence where the kids share their lunch with their famished teacher. Awwwww!
Though the choreography is uneven and the climactic dance, a bit of a disappointment, Shahid comfortably keeps us watching the predictable but perky progression of this penniless pilgrim from the backseat of a car to the red-carpet.
While giving groovy guru-gyan to his students, our dance teacher, Shahid mentions Michael Jackson , Govinda, Prabhu Deva , Hrithik Roshan and Shiamak Davar among the best dancers.
We can easily add Shahid’s name to the list.