'ABCD' review: Acting - Bearable; Choreography - Delightful!

Arya Yuyutsu

Remo D’Souza’s ‘Any Body Can Dance’ was always going to be a ‘dance-ical’, if the word can be coined, full of sexy dance moves but riddled with questionable acting. And the movie lived up to that billing alright.

A very bare-bones story-line, which seems unsurprisingly similar to the one in Hollywood’s ‘Step Up’, is just the feeble thread that knits together a vast array of dance sequences and styles.

The movie begins with a stellar dance performance, in Bollywood’s first sequence of 3D shots, as Jahangir Dance Company light the stage with their grand finale performance at the fictitious dance talent show ‘Dance Dil Se’ as Jahangir Khan, Kay Kay Menon at his best, watches on. Their choreographer Vishnu sir, played by dancing supremo Prabhudeva, looks on from backstage as his troupe’s mediocre performance is rewarded with an undeserved winners’ trophy thanks to Jahangir Khan’s influence.

After the show, Jahangir announces he’s looking for something new and gets himself a US choreographer, getting rid of Vishnu. This sets the tone for Vishnu to stay at his friend, and dance instructor, Gopi’s (played by Ganesh Acharya) place in a neighbourhood where means are few but talent is aplenty.

From there on it’s all about Prabhudeva’s quest to bring together the two young groups of the locality and channel their energies and passions to produce something quite extraordinarily beautiful.

The acting is largely poor and is only bearable because there’s very little of it required. Most of the ‘actors’ are dancers or choreographers so it was always going to be a struggle on that front.

Ganesh Acharya, the rather large-bellied good-natured choreographer who gave us the dance moves in ‘Bodyguard’ and ‘Singham’ among others, does impressively well as an actor even though it all appears a little over-the-top. Prabhudeva’s lack of natural expressions is a sharp contrast to that, as he struggles to honestly portray any emotion that isn’t choreographed.
The more seasoned Kay Kay Menon is rather brilliant and has played his negative role very well. The rest of the cast, all of whom are stacked with dancing rather than acting credentials, were alright and did enough to let the movie roll on till the next dance sequence. But the really unexpected positive is ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ star Lauren Gottlieb who surprises with her acting and expressions, in spite of this being her first Bollywood venture and without having had any prior connection with the Hindi language. At times her Hindi was more fluent and natural than Prabhudeva’s, or even Katrina Kaif’s.

Dance is what the whole movie is about so it’s great that the moves are fresh and original. Remo has done a lot of work on coming up with new ideas and playing with the different styles and routines. The execution is also close to perfect, with Lauren, Pankaj, Dharmesh, Salman, Mayuresh, Prince and the rest living up to their caliber and even excelling with some unforgettable dance sequences. But one of the real highlights is Prabhudeva’s solo dance-off in ‘Down Under’ club where he switches styles through the routine and has the audience gasping for breath and clapping their sore hands.

There are, though, some concepts that seem to have been ‘inspired’ by other movies. The dance in the rain, for instance, is a total rip off from ‘Step Up 2 The Streets’, even though the moves themselves are probably fresh. The group running through the streets and over buildings, escaping from the police in the early portions, is also strongly reminiscent of the pacy French movie that propagated the art of parkour ‘Yamakasi’.

The music works very well with the dances and even the background score is better than average. The ‘Sorry, Sorry’ song deserves a special mention for its out-and-out cuteness in lyrics and dance-moves.

The much-hyped 3D comes across as scratchy and feels only vaguely justified in the end.

While the plot is childish and simplistic in bits and downright strange at a couple of places, Amit Aryan and co’s dialogues are strangely enjoyable and witty at times. The characters are also pretty well developed and the romantic link-ups work conveniently well without getting over-the-top mushy.

For a movie with a story-line so predictable and frail, it comes as a pleasant realization that the messages put across through it, blatant as they are, spread a strong sense of positivity and speak of wonderful strivings. It supersedes the mere framework of dance and tickles the society’s lethargic attitude towards dance and art. It puts forward values of trust, faith, and synergy among other things, all of which are used to metamorphose a locality and, by extension, could change society. Kudos to Remo for that.

If you enjoy some cool, snazzy dance and can look past the largely decorative acting, this is actually a movie worth a watch. I give it a slightly generous 3 stars, largely because of the overwhelming positivity in the script and the loudly subtle happy-ending.

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