Cast: Varun Dhawan, Shraddha Kapoor, Prabhu Deva, Nora Fatehi, Aparshakti Khurana
Director: Remo D'Souza
Rating: 1.5 stars (out of 5)
A street swarming with dancers swaying and wiggling to a wild beat hits a dead-end in Street Dancer 3D. It is an edifice built on a weak foundation: yes, a mound of rubble is what Street Dancer 3D as it collapses under its own weight. It whips up, in an unseemly fit of frenzy, a purported celebration of dance. Cinema is given short shrift in the bargain.
The film's heart seems to be in the right place and the multitude of feet it presses into service are nimble enough. Its head, if at all there is one in working order, is unable to keep pace and thinks up scenes so infantile and wayward that one cannot but wonder what the hell is going on. Thinking is the last thing Street Dancer 3D encourages. So why try?
It is a dance movie that employs 3D for no purpose beyond directing guided projectiles the audience's way. These range from doughnuts flying thick and fast in a nightclub brawl to a bead of sweat flicked off Nora Fatehi's waist in slow-motion to Prabhu Deva hurling his snow-white hat towards the camera. Amid this fusillade of meaningless missiles, what goes missing without a trace is a script.
Set in London, Street Dancer 3D, directed by Remo D'Souza, delivers a surfeit of cacophonous callisthenics aggravated by a storyline that swings wildly between the ridiculous and the sanctimonious. Had this Tushar Hiranandani-written concoction been a somewhat better cinematic effort, we might have got down to discussing its subversive core, which swivels around a pacifist theme that pulls into its sweep the plight of illegal immigrants from the subcontinent (irrespective of their home country) languishing in the UK.
For the first hour of the egregiously long film - it clocks in at 150 minutes - all that we are treated to are dance routines incoherently strung together to drive home the bitter rivalry between two groups of performers - one Indian, led by Punjabi lad Sahej Singh (Varun Dhawan), the other Pakistani, centred on a feisty Inayat (Shraddha Kapoor). They dance, they bicker, they snarl, they throw insults at each other. No matter what they do, the result is the same. It is all unmitigatedly juvenile.
Street Dancer 3D opens with a mishap. A male performer leading the Street Dancers crew during a high-profile competition is cheered enthusiastically by a younger man among the screaming spectators. The dancer falls awkwardly on the stage and breaks his knee. Two year later, the younger man, film's male protagonist Sahej, who, after a trip to Punjab to attend a wedding, acquires a dance studio and promises to fulfil his elder brother's dream.
A semblance of a story does begin to emerge when Anna (Prabhu Deva), the owner of the nightclub where the young dancers congregate to watch India-Pakistan cricket matches and invariably end up fighting, reveals what he does with the food that is left over in his eatery. He feeds homeless migrants who have no legal standing in London and must, therefore, fend for themselves as they evade the police. Anna makes a guesstimate: there are 3,000 such immigrants in his neck of the woods. Helping them return to their respective countries with dignity will cost a huge amount of money, he rationalises.
One day, Anna takes Inayat aside and introduces her to the harsh realities that the poverty-stricken illegal immigrants are up against. You guys are at each other's throat in the name of nationalism and religion, he lectures her. These poor people, united by their majboori, fight as well, but they fight together.
All this would have passed for great philosophy had it been delivered in a more befitting film. In the context in which it is trotted out here, it only sounds painfully corny. But there are moments in Street Dancer 3D that arouse hope. One member of the Street Dancers team falls in love with a girl from the Pakistani group that calls itself Rule Breakers. The hero throws a fit, the lover boy walks out on the Indians and joins the rivals. Love demolishes boundaries.
The hero himself is in love with a non-Indian girl (Nora Fatehi), a dancer who is part of a team of Londoners called The Royals. When push comes to shove, he thinks nothing of defecting to the Brit troupe. Out here in London, it is a do-what-you-like dance that blurs differences to such an extent that borders of the mind are erased even as rivalries turn dangerously intense.
Returning to Anna's need for money to help the stranded migrants, the announcement of the 2020 edition of Ground Zero, a dance competition, sends everyone into a tizzy. The prize money is a whopping 100,000 pounds. So, Anna, who reveals his incredible dance moves when the younger guys question his right to comment on their potential, takes Inayat's side and decides to give the contest a shot.
It is a free-for-all from here on: lines separating the teams are blurred as Inayat, who conceals her identity as a dancer from her conservative parents, begins to receive help and support from unexpected quarters. Phir mile sur mera tumhara, the late 1980s song that Bhimsen Joshi composed to commemorate Republic Day, gets a peppy makeover in the climax that, in a radical departure, embraces the entire subcontinent and not just India as a nation.
The stars of ABCD: Any Body Can Dance and/or its sequel - Salman Yusuff Khan, Dharmesh Yelande, Punit Pathak, Raghav Juyal and, of course, Prabhudeva - are back to peddle their wares. They do their jobs in all earnestness. It isn't their fault that the film they are in does not let their combined efforts add up anything worth sitting up and noticing.
The thin plot has two principal female characters. Neither is allowed much agency in the matter of where they want their lives to go. Shraddha Kapoor, the lead, has more footage than Nora Fatehi, who is trapped in a role that is barely delineated. Yet, the latter strikes it far richer. Varun Dhawan is all pumped-up, but style outweighs substance in an uneven performance.
Street Dancer 3D, two and a half hours of agony, is strictly for dance junkies. Sway out of its way if you don't belong to that category.