It sounds uncharitable, but there are a few common threads between Varun Dhawan and Shraddha Kapoor's first dance film ABCD 2, which hits theatres today, and Shah Rukh khan and Deepika padukone's Happy New Year.
Both films show the lead characters travelling to foreign locations straight from the streets of Mumbai to win a dance championship. Both SRK and Varun's teams are ridiculed for being cheaters and both films have their own versions of the famous 70-minute monologue from Chak De!.
Luckily for us, the similarities between the two films end here. The big difference between the two is that if Happy New Year was a torture, ABCD 2 is a film Bollywood can be proud of producing any time. It is a treat of dance performances you will leave you mighty impressed.
ABCD 2 is a wonderful ensemble of well-choreographed dance sequences and even makes use of 3D to make it more stunning. When you have Remo D'Souza, Prabhudheva and even Ganesh Acharya (for one scene) you simply cannot go wrong with the dance performances.
ABCD 2 also pitches Varun Dhawan's CV a few notches higher than the current crop of stars threatening to break out of the monotony that's the norm in the industry: now we know that he is a very good dancer and can even emote. Showcasing emotions and story-telling, however, is a different task.
Remo's film shows Varun's team being booed for plagiarism during a dance competition for a local TV channel. But the way the public reacts is way too kiddish: A man insists on getting free pizzas on delivery because the man who delivers them was part of the 'cheaters' group; a woman tells Shraddha in a parlour that she can copy wonderfully so she should give her a haircut similar to a Bollywood heroine!
Prabhudheva, who enters the scene in his trademark style and dance moves, ups the quotient with the introductory Happy Hour moves. Thankfully, Remo indulges in dance sequences and gives ample screen time to all the dancers. Hence, we get to watch everyone from Dharmesh to Punit Pathak and more flaunting their moves with equal finesse and expertise as the lead characters.
In the beginning, we also see TV star Kapil Sharma and Navjot Siddhu in their TV show, making fun of Varun's team. Interestingly, this is where we see one of best 'Sidhu shayaris': "Chot kha ke ek patthar kankar kankar ho gaya, chot kha ke ek patthar Shankar Shankar ho gaya!"
ABCD 2 is, without doubt, about mesmerising dance sequences and its equally impressive dancers. Trouble is, it's reduced to a joke every time the music stops and the characters are made to talk. The dialogues are poorly written and the plot is so thin that you want to tear it apart and beg Remo to stick just to the dance sequences! While there is precisely no back story to Shraddha's character, Varun and Prabhudheva have their share of "troubled past". One is the son of a famous dancer while the other has been facing the wrath of family for being a struggling choreographer throughout his life. How lame and predictable can It get?
The sudden outbreaks of Varun's characters remembering his dancer mom rarely bring any emotional connect for the audience, except when he dances beautifully to Chunar.
Remo should have also avoided the romantic pairing of Varun and Shhraddha. No, they look perfect and cute together (especially in the song Sun Saathiya) but the romantic angle looks too forced because there are no convincing scenes. They should have been best friends, not lovers. There is one more emotion that Remo seems to have forcefully inserted: that of sympathy for a dancer suffering from a terminal illness.
This dancer randomly coughs blood, some Ekta Kapoor serial style music plays in the background and we go back to our dance practices. Never is it explained, elaborated or even revealed to the rest of the teammates of Varun's dance troupe. In fact, given the background music that accompanies these scenes, you expect this dancer to die on stage in a melodramatic bid to add to the passion the team has for dance. Thankfully, that doesn't happen.
The ending of the film is a refreshing break from over-optimistic, typical Bollywood climax. There is effort, passion and love for dance showcased throughout but it doesn't end in a miracle. The end looks more realistic than all the forced melodrama of the complete movie put together.
Our verdict? You should watch ABCD 2 irrespective of whether you are a dancer or not, because the performances more than compensate for the forced emotions, poorly-written dialogues and the badly-woven storyline.