Friday, January 15, 2010

Chance Pe Dance

Fitness Programme

Well it seems like Dance movies are the rage these days, and this week alone we have two films that seemingly centers on dance, with Jump coming from China/Hong Kong, and Chance Pe Dance from Bollywood, both being romantic comedies appealing to their respective distinct demographics. And it's not too surprising that unlike dance films of old where there's a male-female pair who would exhibit some signature moves on the dance floor, the contemporary films this week have absolutely none of that, which in some ways is a pity.

Chance Pe Dance follows recent Bollywood films such as Luck By Chance in having their characters lament about the open secret of their film industry, where one has to be well connected, or come from an influential family in the industry in order to have one's big break served on a silver platter. For the rest of the mortals aspiring for that opportunity, it's more hard work, toil and sweat in order to get noticed, otherwise it's an endless cycle of mundane work to pay the bills, and juggling auditions in between.

Shahid Kapur plays one such struggler from Delhi, Sameer Behl, who has spent the last 3 plus years trawling the audition houses of Mumbai in order to find work in the film industry. Living under meagre terms, he gets disappointed time and again, which is pretty much against the way he was brought up to believe that his good looks and charisma automatically meant he'd be the hero in his life, all the time. The narrative takes a very whirlwind snapshot of Sameer's life, highlighting his debts and being played out by both his best friend as well as filmmakers who promise him the sky, but never hesitant to pull the rug from under his feet.

The story tries to jam pack too many subplots into the film, which makes you wonder whether this is a dance film if at all. First of all, there's the school days arc, where in order to sustain his city living, Sameer takes up a teaching job, imparting his dance skills to pesky children (he's never good with them) in order to help them win their dance competition. The key message here is of course if one couldn't do anything with one's current lifetime, there's always the imparting of skills to the next generation for them to live the dream that we have missed out on. This story arc could have been better fleshed out, other than to be squeezed into the film just before the intermission, and then resolved right after the film resumes.

Then there's the continuation of Sameer's own struggle, where he has to learn never to give up because a life-changing opportunity may just be around the corner. In what would be like an American Idol clone of a dance/idol contest, this story too wasn't fleshed out properly and we're taken in for quite the fast tracking from the competition's start, right to the finale, with nary any tension due to the lack of competitive characters, and the larger culprit being the lack of dance (it's chance pe dance after all, right?)

But the largest waste here was the under utilization of the character Tina, played by Genelia D'Souza, a choreographer whom Sameer serendipitously meets, and falls in love with. The character reminded me of Asin's Kalpana from Ghajini, the free-spirited, strong girl who teaches a thing or two to her guy about what it means by being resilient. I thought Genelia looked like Asin too from certain angles, and possessed the same vivacity here as well, together with some really stunning dance moves that we would see at the start of the film, with so much promise that when the lead duo gets paired together, sparks will fly and magic will happen. But it didn't! If there's anything to rue about, it's precisely this missed opportunity to have the duo perform a lot more dance numbers than one which quite sedately celebrates their love for each other, by mucking around exotic locales.

For a dance movie, I wouldn't doubt that Bollywood cannot pull one off, given the musical like quality in almost all of the films, but it's a real pity that Chance Pe Dance is not that film. Thankfully the leads have charisma and share pitch perfect chemistry together, which managed to carry the film through from start to end, limited dance moves notwithstanding.

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