Everyone loves the underdog, whether it is Bhuvan’s XI trumping the English at their own game or Shashi Godbole’s triumph over the English language. ABCD — short for Anybody Can Dance — is a classic underdog story of human spirit, resilience and a never-say-die attitude, coated with eye-popping dance acts by some of the best movers and shakers in the business.
In a clear nod to the Step Up franchise, ABCD is a larger-than-life dance spectacle in 3D that will make you gawk and gape. But beyond the washboard abs and gyrating bodies is an emotional story of fighting against the odds, of the will to believe in oneself and the power to make it happen.
Just like Aamir Khan brought together a group of diverse village folk and taught them to bat and bowl to victory in Lagaan, Vishnu (Prabhudheva) marshals a gang of wayward youngsters from the bylanes of Dongri to take on Jehangir’s (Kay Kay Menon) dance academy. Once partners and friends, Vishnu and Jehangir have a fall-out; for one dance is important, for the other showmanship.
All set to pack his bags and move back to hometown Chennai, Vishnu changes his plans when he spots a group of young men in his locality dancing their hearts out at a Ganpati procession. With his loyal friend Gopi (Ganesh Acharya), Vishnu converts an abandoned storeroom into a dance studio and after a series of initial hiccups — most of the young dancers don’t see eye to eye — they stop trading blows and start matching steps. As they cope with betrayal, puppy love, family opposition and even the death of a co-dancer, the group learns the meaning of teamwork, perseverance and discipline as they take on the best in the business.
Choreographer-director Remo D’Souza does well in packaging his dance film with a story that tugs at the heartstrings. And if you are a dance buff and have just walked through the plex doors to see some of India’s best movers dance up a storm, then too ABCD doesn’t disappoint. From the introductory scene where the film’s young debutants — most of them from the cult Zee TV show Dance India Dance — put up a spectacular Parkour act to a jaw-dropping dance-off in the rain sometime in the second half, ABCD is a virtual feast for those with a passion for dance, and even for those without. But it is a five-minute pre-interval solo act by Prabhudheva that is inarguably ABCD’s paisa vasool moment.
The Hindi dialogues may not roll off the tongue easily, but there is no doubt that no one but Prabhudheva could have done justice to the role of a principled teacher with a passion for his craft. The man brings earnestness to the emotional scenes and, as expected, is in crackling form in the dance sequences. Ganesh Acharya’s comic timing comes as a pleasant surprise and Kay Kay brings a deliciously evil twist to his unscrupulous and money-minded businessman.
The DID boys act as well as they dance, with a special mention for Dharmesh’s screen presence and Salman’s camera confidence. Unlike Don 2 or Dangerous Ishhq, the 3D technology used enhances the ABCD experience.
The 100-odd dance buffs at the first day, second show at Fame (South City) clapped and cheered, catcalled and wolf-whistled through ABCD. And no, a Khan wasn’t part of the credits; dance was.
- Director: Remo D’Souza
- Cast: Prabhudheva, Ganesh Acharya, Lauren Gottlieb, Dharmesh, Salman, Prince, Vrushali, Puneet
- Running time: 143 minutes
the abcD of lauren
Lauren Gottlieb, the 22-year-old who has taught Tom Cruise to dance and matched steps with Rihanna and Shakira, is a striking presence in ABCD. The finalist of So You Think You Can Dance, who has appeared in a few films and TV shows, plays an Indian character called Riya, for which she has had to learn Hindi. A brilliant dancer with a body to kill for, Lauren is surprisingly adept in the acting department, holding her own in front of seasoned performers like Prabhudheva and Kay Kay Menon.
With substantial screen time to her name, Lauren is the lead dancer in most performances, but it is in the final act that she leaves the boys well and truly behind to come with a jaw-dropping routine that shows off her superior dance skills and remarkable flexibility.
Lauren had told t2 that she wants to continue doing films in India, even if they don’t focus on dance. If her screen presence is anything to go by, she’s surely ‘Gott’ what it takes to be here.
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