The promos of ABCD played the song, ‘Muqabla’, maybe to allure people like me, who used to be passionate dancers at some point of their lives or are still glued to the TV each time Dance India Dance plays on TV. The promo reminded me of the time when I was preparing for my 10th Board Examinations and would stealthily switch on the TV and tune into ATN (Asian Television Network – the channel no longer exists in India but I guess it’s active in Canada) to catch a glimpse of the trailer of ‘Humse Hai Muqabla’ and wait with bated breath for its release at a single-screen theatre.
The day Humse Hai Muqabla released, I watched all the first three shows back-to-back (the box office guy and usher suspected that I intended to sell them in black). After watching (with open mouth and wide eyes) the phenomenon called ‘Prabhu Deva’ on the silver screen, I practiced those gravity-defying steps at home (only to be reprimanded by my parents and neighbours who were sick of the songs ‘Muqabla’, ‘Urvashi’ and ‘Patti Rap’ being played on loop throughout the entire summer vacation at blaring decibels). Prabhu Deva made me more popular for my dance than my writing skills at school and became the only reason to watch ABCD – India’s first 3D dance film, as the promos proclaimed.
The film ABCD opens with a dance performance akin to something dished out almost daily on TV, right from the Boogie Woogie days to Jhalak Dikhla Jaa. The tacky dialogues and actors (non-actors actually) mouthing Bambaiyya (oops, Mumbaiyya) language garnished with ‘chapris and tapris’ make one wonder where the film is heading forth, especially when ‘The Prabhu Deva’ was in no mood to dance and constantly wore a frown.
I kicked myself for wasting my time over this film when I could have easily grabbed the DVD of Humse Hai Muqabla (obviously one of my most prized possession, purely for its nostalgic value, and not a dancing manual it used to be, as I no longer dance or perform, blame it on my passion for writing). Fortunately, my disappointment was as short-lived as Prabhu Deva’s reluctance to dance and the ‘boneless dancing wonder’ proves that he is still the best dancer around, and leaves you awestruck minutes before the screen reads: Interval.
If Mithun defined the acronym of DISCO in the song, ‘I am a Disco Dancer’ from the film, ‘Disco Dancer’, Prabhu Deva spells out DANCE, which we could tweak it as – Discipline, Acting, Newness, Choreography, and Emotions.
To begin with, the ‘Discipline’, ABCD lacks the discipline of a well-written film. The screenplay employs every contrived ways placing obstacles in the dance group’s lives and this is what makes every scene predictable (two guys eying a same girl, father hell bent on literally ‘butchering’ his son’s dreams, a dancer’s coke addiction, a death scene ensuing ‘the show must go on’ performance reminiscent of ‘Jeena yahan marna yahan’ sung by Raj Kapoor in Mera Naam Joker, and so on),
Director Remo D’souza is at his best form during the dance scenes but when it comes to capturing emotions from the dancers, he loses his grip (blame it on the dancers with left foot for acting). Vadodara’s talents ‘Dharmesh’ and ‘Prince’ get their moments to shine. Dharmesh dances to ‘express’, not to ‘impress’ in the excellently filmed ‘Bezubaan’, while ‘Prince’ surprisingly remains in the background as a gizmo geek who speaks in software language.
The innovative dance themes, especially the Joker’s Dance is worth an applause. The grand sets and the finale of Ganesha Dance are goosebump inducing – something we have never watched at such scale. But the screenplay begs for more freshness. Well, one doesn’t expect a ‘keep your jacket on the rack’ scene the film ‘The Karate Kid’ starring Jackie Chan and Jadon Smith (Jadon eventually uses that particular movement in his fight), but Remo could have surely explored the territory of transforming street dancers into professional performers.
The choreography and the background score is just ‘Awesome’, as Prahbu Deva’s character Vishnu would like to put it. Furthermore, Remo proves his mettle only in stage performances and leaves you craving for another ‘Rangeela re’ dance performance or Prabhu Deva doing an ‘Urvashi’ at least for few seconds for old time’s sake. The film also fails to leverage the 3D technology and makes you hope that the climax would make up for it. It goes on to prove that anybody can dance, but not direct a film.
Actor KK Menon plays a comic book villain to perfection, right from his perfectly gelled spiked hair, goatee, to his poison-kissed taunts and cocky demeanour – he is mediocrity personified and easily the best actor among the entire ensemble. Ganesh Acharya gets to play a role where he can almost act himself and hence proves to be the right choice, but his character seems to have been written in a hurry perhaps as tea breaks from the dance practice sessions.
Alas! it doesn’t, but ABCD surely leaves you awe-inspired by one of the best dance performances we’ve ever witnessed in an Indian film The film is worth a watch, purely for its dance quotient or maybe to relive your dancing days. Either ways, you won’t be disappointed. After all, if Any Body Can Dance (except Pappu?), anybody can enjoy this film too.