And that’s not the only grouse with Any Body Can Dance (ABCD). Remo D’Souza’s second film is a hit-and-miss venture. On the one hand, it is colourful, boisterous, full of enthusiasm but on the other, it is wobbly and unwieldy. Like a house of cards, ABCD stacks up well, but only up to a couple of levels.
The plot is plain enough. Like a sort of ode to Disco Dancer, choreographer (and perhaps co-founder? His position is not quite clear.) Vishnu (Prabhu Deva) leaves superstar dance mentor Jahangir Khan’s (Kay Kay Menon) dance academy after being sidelined. The JDC trains youngsters in dance and is known for their wins in dance reality show Dance Dil Se for many seasons.
A depressed Vishnu lands up in his friend Gopi’s (Ganesh Acharya) basti determined to return home to Tamil Nadu. But some feuding boys in the neighbourhood and their love for dance snag Vishnu’s attention. And he decides to start a dance class to prep them to participate in Dance Dil Se. Soon the group expands to include some more: namely a drug addict Chandu, a bar dancer Shaina, and Rhea (Lauren Gottlieb, a finalist of So You Think You Can Dance) — an ex-student of JDC who quits because Jahangir Khan tries to molest her.
Through each of the students, ABCD’s plot tries to weave in many strands but is barely able to hold it all together. Apart from a couple of high points, namely Prabhu’s dance item and D’s dance sequence in the rain, the dances build up to high adrenaline by half time but falter toward the end. For one, all the sequences are only versions of that strange dance that we now know as modern contemporary. One would have enjoyed Indian classical influences or even what Prabhu describes as the dance that all Indians know and love, the ‘street dance.’
Kay Kay Menon and Ganesh Acharya ham to their heart’s content while the ensemble cast is earnest but raw. They dance well but their acting isn’t any great shakes. Prabhu Deva is serious and subdued. But mainly, for a dance film, Remo’s dance sequences aren’t too imaginative. The 3D technology is under-utilised therefore.
The subtext of the class differences between JDC and Vishnu’s academy is also very interesting. Jahangir Khan’s character seems uncannily similar to a South Mumbai dance guru and much of the backstabbing and rivalry seems to be part of Bollywood/dance reality show lore.