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ABCD-2: Spring in the step, stiff in the heart

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Despite the surge in dance-based reality shows, dance-based films, once an important genre in Indian cinema, were increasingly becoming a rarity before Remo D’Souza’s rag-tag team stole many hearts in ABCD with its absorbing contemporary choreography. The sequel has a different story but like the original it is a simple tale told without frills.

If you ignore exceptions like Black Swan , traditionally, dance films, particularly of hip hop variety, are considered to be a little dumb in terms of storytelling. And if it is coming from the house of Disney, the film usually has a teenage heart. Here the director wants his protagonists to put on the dancing shoes at every conceivable opportunity. Remo is no different but he makes no pretensions of offering a complex storyline either. When it comes to choreography, he has step-upped his game many notches this time by blending it with 3D.

Genre: Dance/drama Director: Remo D’ Souza Cast: Varun Dhawan, Shraddha Kapoor, Prabhudheva, Dharmesh, Lauren Gottileb Bottomline: Remo has invested his whole cinematic vocabulary on dance and is left with only ABCD when it comes to the emotional choreography.

Right from the credits he holds our attention as the amalgamation is seamless and takes us right into a centre of action, decoding the complex moves in the process. A curious mix of art and aggression, the dance is much more real than what we get to see in reality shows as Remo doesn’t try to make things hectic by employing editing skills. Amidst all the stunning visual flair, there are ample long shots and long takes to make you appreciate the hard work put in by the dancers.

One feared that the entry of actors like Varun Dhawan and Shraddha Kapoor will take away the raw energy of choreographers cast in the original but Remo doesn’t get carried away with the scale and star material. He has given enough screen time to Dharmesh and Lauren Gottileb, the centres of attraction in the original, to express themselves. In fact none of the choreographers in the cast have been reduced to background dancers. And Varun and Shraddha have worked enough on their craft to lead this group.

Branded as cheaters in a television dance show, Suresh (Varun Dhawan) wants to redeem the group’s dignity by participating in World Hip Hop Dance Competition in Las Vegas. The idea, we are told, has come from a real life story, but it reminds of Farah Khan’s Happy New Year . Anyway, Suresh needs a choreographer and he stumbles upon Vishnu (Prabhudheva), a drunkard who has his own plans. Both Prabhu and Varun are in form on stage but off it they come across unusually flat. However, Shraddha breaths fresh air as she controls her chirpy, cute act.

As for the emotional integrity, the film opens well when Remo creates a link between our classical tradition of dance and the contemporary variety through Suresh’s touching backstory but after that as long as the film remains on stage, it throbs with natural energy but the moments off it seem staged and predictable because Remo fails to think beyond the obvious links between the two.

After a point the choreographer in Remo takes over from the director in him and it seems like a long well-shot, well-meaning reality show whose back to back episodes are unspooling in front of you. An injury before a crucial round, a love triangle threatening to take shape within the group, a member hiding his disease so that the group remains united and finally a dash of patriotism…all this seems like trite plot points of a reality show none of which assume any critical significance. The good thing or the saving grace is Remo doesn’t try to squeeze melodrama out of them. At one point of time Suresh tells his sweetheart, ‘why do you take tension? You know how it is.’ This perhaps echoes Remo’s advice for the audience.


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Printable version | Sep 16, 2022 6:25:19 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/abcd2-spring-in-the-step-stiff-in-the-heart/article7333696.ece