Starring Prabhudheva, Varun Dhawan, Shraddha Kapoor, Aparshakti
Directed by Remo D’Souza
Rating: **** ½(4 and a half stars)
Impressively, Prabhudheva gets top billing in this zany political parable about how India and Pakistan can beat the Gora Log, a.k.a the First World, if we only stop bickering about cricket and politics. Prabhu remains one helluva of hellraiser on the dance floor. By the time he gets down to doing his own Muqabla song in a trance dance, this time choreographed by director Remo D’Souza, he becomes the sole of the film, and I do mean SOLE. That’s the magic of the dancing feet that this film so exuberantly and abundantly celebrates.
Remo D’Souza’s earlier dance film ABCD2 with Varun and Shraddha felt a little like a pretext for dance. Street Dancer feels more prone to tell a story, to use (to paraphrase a line of dialogue from the film) dance to express rather than impress.
Like the feet of a natural-born street dancer, the plot and characters of this film move in mysterious ways. For starters, the film’s protagonist Sehaj (Varun Dhawan, energetic to the core (though a wee overdone in his zest to be the best) is a bit of an arrogant jerk. Sahej thinks no end of himself and loses no chance in using people to his own advantage.
It is a welcome change to meet a mainstream hero who is not a perfect 10. The flaws add a furious flow when Varun gets on the floor, with or without his two dancing partners Shraddha Kapoor and Nora Fatehi. The latter is definitely a better dancer. Nora is more heart. Shraddha is more about a Urmila Matondkar kind of dancing skill. Conscious and marionette-like in making the right moves.
Indeed the film’s choreography is a wonder to behold. Remo has made a concerted effort to give us moves that we’ve never seen before. Every dancer in the foreground or back, gora or colour is skilled and supple, fiercely committed to getting the steps right.
Some of Remo’s peripheral dancers are also good actors. Watch Raghav Juyal in his confrontation with his friend Sahej after he has gone bad. Juyal outdoes Dhawan.
The first-half has its engaging bits, like the Indian and Pakistani dancers battling over cricket in a London pub, throwing doughnuts instead of nuke bombs at one another. These sequences are constructed on the pyramid of song and dance. It’s the post-midpoint portion that comes alive as Remo in a swoop of swirling colours and twirling feet, brings in the theme of illegal immigration in London.
Aparshakti Khurrana as a deportable delinquent from Punjab, wandering hungry and helpless through London brings such deep despair to his part, you want to shake him out of his misery, remind him that this is a fun film, not to be taken seriously.
The cast largely gets into the tongue-in-cheek groove. Dhawan builds his bratty-to-responsible character with an endearing vigour. The best sequence of Street Dancer has Varun Dhawan perform a dance of agonizing self-flagellation where he dances with his disabled brother.
Sheer magic! Not all of this film can afford to experiment with truth. But whenever it sets his heart on a higher plane than its mind, the film soars, the body shakes to a quivering rhythm. This Republic weekend gives yourself a break, as dance becomes an expression of thoughts buried too deep for discussion.