A decidedly underdog story that works for most part, but this musical is not without its share of missteps
Inspired by the true story of the Fictitious Dance Group (a troupe based out of Nalasopara that made it to the World Hip Hop championship after much struggle), ABCD 2 is a fairly enjoyable musical with some great, eye-popping dance set pieces and earnest performances by its lead stars, Varun Dhawan and Shraddha Kapoor (She looks ethereal in each frame, her waif-like body a dieticians wet fantasy).
Varun plays Suresh, the leader of Mumbai Stunners that faces plagiarism accusations during the finale of a reality show. It is alleged by Terence Lewis (playing himself) that their final act was a complete rip-off from a Filipino troupe (From the formation to the flip, everything is a copy Terence declares).
Disheartened and remorseful that he let his mothers name down, who herself was a renowned dancer, Varun seeks part-time dancer and full-time alcoholic Vishnus (Prabhudheva, trying to pull-off a Rajini) help to reach the World Hip Hop finale and make the country proud. His actual agenda is to reclaim the credibility of his own gang that is mocked and subsequently shunned.
Yes, random people everywhere (in the bar, on the streets) pass snide remarks and in one hilarious moment, a man even refuses to pay for pizza because the delivery-boy happens to be one of the members of the cheating group. Their evil act becomes a matter of national outrage that has put the country in an ethical dilemma. Only way to regain lost respect is to make it big in foreign land and it doesnt get sexier than Vegas!
Among the things that this Remo DSouza directorial gets right is the choreography and the sets. More importantly, the writers get an interesting bunch of characters together (a hair-dresser, a delivery boy, a waiter, a deaf-and-mute character). The bunch share fantastic chemistry that reflects an enviable level of candour.
The film brims with homoerotic tensions when the boys share a large suite in Vegas while Lauren Gottlieb infuses the screen with breathless sexual energy. And so does the understated romantic interplay between Shraddha and Varun which is deftly handled by the director. After Badlapur, Varun yet again appears in top-form and dances with the manic energy equated only with a man high on LSD.
His gangs lingo is quintessential Bombaiya and while the dialogue does go into the exaggerated-sentimentalism zone (Dance to express, not to impress), more or less it revolves in an arc that is fully self-aware of the universe it belongs to. However, the nationalist bhaavna which the film tries to induce towards the end falls flat. (Vande Mataram reverberates endlessly in the background)
The sets have been beautifully envisaged and are stunning to the point of perfection. The locales from an abandoned dockyard that doubles up as the rehearsing gala for the dancing gang to the intoxicatingly glamorous Las Vegas make the film visually arresting and the stereoscopic 3D, usually a narrative hindrance in most Hindi films, works delightfully well too.
But just when you begin to appreciate the dance, the narrative gets cluttered with pointless subplots.
Unnecessary and jarring, these subplots do great disservice by adding to the films running time. By the end, the film feels like a laboriously assembled reality show where melodrama was created to up the TRPs. Unfortunately, it only adds up to the hip-hop fatigue.
A few existential queries that the film leaves behind are: why on earth does Vishnu come with a tragic (and an irrelevant) back-story (and an annoying kid who clicks a selfie with his father so that his friends burn). His story is so flimsy; it makes a scene from a Sajid Khan film look sensible. What is Pooja Batra doing here playing herself when the film, or for that matter anything else these days, works perfectly well without her presence?
These are questions you wish you didnt have to ask. Otherwise, ABCD 2 is an attractively packaged film that you wouldnt mind watching.