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Feb 09, 2013 at 10:46am IST

'ABCD' Review: Any Body Can Dance, but the same can't be said of acting

Cast: Prabhu Deva, Kay Kay Menon

Director: Remo D'Souza

'ABCD', an acronym for Any Body Can Dance, should have been more fun than it is, given that it's a true-blue 3D dance movie packed with energetic musical set-pieces. But the film suffers from the same malady that plagues this genre everywhere. Like the "Step Up" movies from which it's evidently inspired, "ABCD" has a threadbare, predictable plot, and a cast of professional dancers who can break into gravity-defying moves but can't deliver a line of dialogue convincingly.

Prabhu Deva stars as Vishnu, the chief instructor at a big-league dance company, who finds himself out in the cold when his shallow business partner (Kay Kay Menon) gives his job to a fancy American choreographer. Encouraged by a friend, Vishnu decides to start his own studio in a rundown garage, offering to train young dance enthusiasts from a lower middle class neighborhood for free.

The wafer-thin screenplay reads like a laundry list of clichés, as the narrative moves clunkily from one tired plot-point to another. There's a love triangle going on in the troupe, a follow-your-heart message delivered through another subplot, and there's no escape from such overarching themes as the merits of hard work and honest competition. To be fair, you don't go into a dance movie expecting a layered script and character depth, but it's unfortunate that even the dance numbers in 'ABCD' seem interchangeable. There's one set-piece filmed skillfully in the rain that stands out in 3D, as does the climatic performance at a dance competition.

Yet, if none of it is particularly memorable, blame it equally on the disappointing soundtrack by Sachin-Jigar that doesn't offer one unforgettable track. The ensemble cast of dancers has an infectious enthusiasm when it comes to their moves, but they're woefully inept in the acting department. It doesn't help that director Remo D'Souza demands full-on melodrama from his amateur actors in the film's final act, and stays too long on their awkward close-ups in the emotional bits.

At 2 hours and 20 minutes, 'ABCD' is too long. There's some genuinely original choreography up there, but it's lost in a plodding film with characters you couldn't care about. I'm going with a generous two out of five for 'ABCD'. Even if it's true what this film claims - that anybody can dance, it also provides evidence that the same is not true of acting!

Rating: 2/5

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