Varun Dhawan Can Dance Saala!
This movie throws up all the cliches possible, and in 3D it's a very tough watch for two and a half hours. But watching Varun Dhawan dance is like having pakodas with chai or pepperoni pizza in the rains. Perfect.
Before dance fans jump on me beat me up and do victory pirouette on my lifeless body, let me say we should award this movie with five stars.
But it's 154 minutes long. And 3D is fine for a little bit (best during the opening credit sequence). But what 3D does is reduce the size of people into looking smaller than they are and you look at Varun Dhawan as though he's some action figure rather than a full-bodied, red-blooded male.
That for me is enough to take away half a star.
I loved the first part. I still watch it when it shows up on TV. It's the story of underdogs who do good in a world of made for cut-throat competitors. So I was looking forward to a similar story. Just as in all Step Up movies. The formula is perfect. Underdogs lose, they practice hard, and then they win (sometimes the trophy, sometimes hearts, and always, always the girl.). When you have a formula that works, why would you try and re-invent the wheel?
In ABCD2 there's a very weak romance thread. Shraddha and Varun look more like buddies than romantic dance partners. And there is no problem with that. It's 2015, for godssakes! But there's romance, and it's so tepid, you know you have better romance going on with pizza in your real life. Bringing in Lauren to offer moments of jealousy does not work too, because they want to show everyone is good and as long as they dance, they are a part of the team.
So the romance part of the story doesn't work. But all the women in the theaters, regardless of age, are now in love with Varun Dhawan. They are imagining themselves in the bower just like in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, dancing to music that's playing in the heads with Varun Dhawan instead of Shah Rukh Khan. And that's all that matters.
But it's annoying to see the deaf mute dancer make the same gesture that he can hear music in his heart just as Shah Rukh does in that bower scene... And it forces me to mentally put check marks on the cliches in the story.
Dancer/Friends who leave when they're caught cheating on the dance performance (they never tell you why they cheated, who taught them the moves that the Philippines dancers did, whose idea was it)
Why do they need a guru for the Bangalore championships? How convenient is it that Prabhudeva just pops up on the scene! Those drunk scenes are so-oh cute but so badly done... Well, yes, they're dancers and not actors, but in part 1, the story of insulted guru who makes the ragtag dancers into a great team worked so beautifully...
Of course I wanted to wash Varun Dhawan's shirt when Prabhudeva wipes his yuckkky mouth on it. He's so-oh cute!
Back to the cliches in the story. How conveniently they win the Bangalore contest, how easily the 22lakhs are got, how conveniently they squander the cash and how the seemingly good guy turns out to be a baddie.
Prabhudeva's back story just does not add up for me, and I kept saying in my head, 'Why are they wasting time trying to show a story? Show them dancing!'
And if by magic Varun Dhawan dances with his team. And I am happy again, and so are the hundred women whooping loudly in the theater
By now I have cut one and a half star already from the five stars I initially awarded the movie.
But the worst, the very worst thing they could do to the movie is the fake patriotism and the desh is meri-maa thing they saved for the end. It is as annoying as the national anthem right before every movie that folks in Maharashtra suffer. It's a law, and even though one is patriotic, it is hard to feel that way when one has a tray of popcorn, coffee and hot samosas to balance along with the raincoat (or an unbrella) and a handbag (or a backpack). So when you see this jabardasti ka patriotism rear up its head you are reminded of another lame final scene where they recite the national anthem to win a singing contest (Lions Of Punjab, I think) or Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham where Kajol's annoying kid recites the anthem and everyone wonders whether to stand up in their seats or slap the little kid.
That means, we have 2 and a 1/2 stars left. That goes for all the dances, the choreography and the dancers, and the hard work they have put in and the young gorgeous Varun Dhawan who manages a pull off a super role quite effortlessly. (Yes, yes, Shraddha Kapoor dances too. But she's overshadowed, and the trick of getting her to not dance is a cliche you can see from a mile away.)
Varun Dhawan simply shines. Even when the CGI of the grand canyon is laughable and you come out trying to erase that song from your mind...
p.s. I hope they didn't get paid to write the lyrics of that romantic song. If the young generation is romancing to such lyrics, am glad I am ancient.