By Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News Service
Film: "Holiday"; Cast: Dino Morea, introducing Onjoli Nair, Gulshan Grover, Kashmira Shah, Anahita Uberoi and Nauheed Cyrusi; Director: Pooja Bhatt; Rating: **
Dino Morea's swan-like grace in the salsa dancing, done with such precise and yet spontaneous élan, leaves us spell-bound. Is this really a remake of Dirty Dancing?
Here's an actor who has so far been wrongly or inadequately used. It's a pleasure beyond measure to watch Dino do his 'dirty' dancing accompanied by some truly innovative music (Ranjot Barot) and choreography (Sandeep Soparkar).
For her second directorial venture, Pooja Bhatt has chosen a dream team. All her cast and crew conspire to create a Goan romance with a velvety Valentine vibrancy. You can't see "Holiday" qualifying for an Oscar nomination. But the gawky-chick-meets-graceful-dancer romance keeps a smile alive till the end. And that's no small mercy!
When Dino, defiantly and devastatingly dance-able to the end, gets on the floor to sweep the modern-day Cinderella off her feet, you know director Pooja has achieved what she aimed to... make a soft supple sinewy love story where the boy and the girl express lot of their emotions in elegant motions.
The Salsa dance, new to Hindi cinema, is a refreshing departure from the pelvic gyrations that double up for dancing in our films. The song-and-dance pieces are done with an audacious affection.
There's nothing dirty about Dino's dancing. He twirls and pirouettes across a brightly lit floor, creating ripples of romantic yearning with his hands and feet.
In one shimmering sequence, shot by the cinematographer in a vast bare expanse of dark whispering shadows, Dino's hand stabs in the air looking for the poetry of the spheres in the empty vacant spaces that separate the workaday world from the world of feelings.
Some of the purported emotions are dissolved in getting the externalities right. The long decisive sequence between papa Gulshan Grover and his ugly-duckling daughter Muskaan (Onjoli) has no layering of lyricism to support the silent emotions that are supposed to pass between the estranged father and daughter. And the parental misunderstanding is too flimsy to be taken seriously.
You often miss that sense of a life under the surface. But as a boy-meets-girl flick "Holiday" scores surprisingly high marks. Pooja's high aesthetic sense is evident in the songs and dances. Even the fun 'n' frolic beach song is done with lots of élan and verve.
'Dil Chahta Hai' anyone?
However, the romantic moments aren't fleshed out in any detail. At times we see the couple interacting in frames that are cut predictably from boy to girl... and back to the boy without any space for the unexpected.
But once Dino gets to the dance floor you can't keep your eyes off his measured but spontaneous movements, his quietly intense eyes piercing the night.
The debutante Onjali is aptly plain and unable to express the anguish of a heart waiting to flower into the folds of love. Whether her tentativeness is a virtue or not, we shall know later.
Pooja's high aesthetic sense is given a twirling hand-up by Dino's dancing and the Goan landscape. She has some fresh faces in the cast. There's a nubile novelty even the way the item girl Kashmira Shah is presented. Go watch the prince of the pirouette fall in love with the prim-and-prop-her Cinderella.