When you think about Footloose, Flashdance, Fame or Dirty Dancing—some of the memorable Hollywood dance movies—you find yourself involuntarily bopping and humming along with their energetic and infectious dance sequences. The same cannot be said about this week’s Hindi movie release Chance Pe Dance.
Chance lost: Multiple tracks rob this Shahid Kapur-Genelia D’Souza starrer of its rhythm.
Unlike Ram Gopal Varma’s Naach (2004), director Ken Ghosh gets one thing right—that dance is spontaneous and fun. Having said that, he also resorts to packing his script with predictable events and hackneyed plot points. Mostly he relies on Shahid Kapur to pull it off single-handedly.
The story is tailor-made for Kapur. As a trained and talented dancer, he embraces the role of Samir Behl, a young man from Delhi who spends four years in Mumbai chasing his dream of becoming a movie star. His story is no different from that of hundreds of strugglers one hears about. He juggles a day job as a courier with going to auditions. His fridge serves as his cupboard, his iron as a toaster and Michael Jackson is his inspiration. He takes rejection in his stride, smiles away the disappointment and prepares for the next audition—ever hopeful that his big break is round the corner. Yet you never feel sympathy when he is rejected or pleased when he gets a break. Perhaps because the set-up for the disappointment was as obvious as a double-decker bus heading at you full speed.
At one such audition, he meets choreographer Tina (Genelia D’Souza) and, predictably, falls in love. While Samir’s shop-owner father worries for his son and questions his struggles, Tina stands by him. She discovers that a homeless Samir is living in his car and now has a day job as dance teacher in a school. There is also a spineless film-maker, an inter-school dance competition, a reality TV talent hunt, shop demolitions and romance.
A dance film requires catchy tunes besides enjoyable choreography. While the dances are primarily hip hop based, the film suffers from the absence of at least one memorable song or a thumping dance performance. The art direction tends to oscillate between clever and over-the-top. Ghosh’s experience as a music video director is showcased in the song and dance picturizations which leap out of the screen and are sometimes incongruous to the rest of the art, sets, mood and style.
It is Kapur’s dancing that you look forward to. The lead characters are just too nice; there are no shades of grey at all. You do not feel any anticipation because there is no doubt that Samir will win.
What lets Ghosh down most is the script. It lacks wit and originality and the director’s vision appears to be confused between feature film and TV material. Multiple tracks are packed in but none is fleshed out. For instance, the scene between father and son in Delhi is forced; a schoolgirl who does not talk gets her voice back without explanation of her previous condition; and why doesn’t a penniless and homeless Samir just sell his car to pay the rent?
The performances of the supporting cast—many are from the television industry—are at TV serial level, which is discordant with the pitch of the lead actors. D’Souza plays it cute, the perfect girlfriend. She is so sweet you are in danger of a sugar overload. Kapur excels in the song and dance numbers, but there is little he can do with the weak material. Just watching him overact in the opening scene in his 1BHK (which could have been brilliant if you did not feel you had seen it somewhere before) prepares you for what lies ahead. His acting prowess—which peaked in last year’s superb Kaminey—remains unchallenged. It is only the audience’s patience that is challenged.