A bunch of aspiring dancers are caught out and shamed at a televised dance competition for copying another international troupe’s routine. Rejected, dejected and so on, the group breaks up and goes back to doing whatever they were before that — waiter, pizza delivery guy,
underdog #3, underdog #4 — but the leader of the pack, Suresh/Suru (Varun Dhawan) can’t get dance (or his dancer mother, who — the solemn voiceover tells us — died with her ghungroos on) out of his mind. Also, he now wants to get out of the country and try his luck at this international hip hop competition in Vegas, which is three months away. But first they need to get a new troupe together. Then they have to find a “guru” to help them choreograph something spectacular (enter Prabhudeva reprising his role as Vishnu Sir). Then they need to win the qualifier in Bangalore. And then hello, Vegas. Obstacles, mean people, trip-ups, massive sacrifices, evil plans ensue. At the end… well, everyone knows how this one goes.
Remo D’Souza’s ABCD 2 is almost as predictable as ABCD the first, and the acting almost just as awkward, despite this sequel being an upgrade starring Dhawan and Shraddha Kapoor, both of whom are actors for real. Much like the Step Up franchise, which was the inspiration for India’s own 3D dance drama, the acting, storyline, writing, plot points…none of these are significant enough to further waste under the scanner. Let’s put aside the cringeworthy dialogues, forced conflict, forgotten plot points, and attempts at “story twists” for a bit — for the sake of what has only ever boasted of being about dance (movie? what?). There is a marked improvement in a lot of other areas — the dance sequences, while still not electrifying, are a lot more engaging and well-crafted; the filmmakers seem to have remembered that they can use 3D for more than just a straight gimmick; the music is tolerable for the most part, even enjoyable in bits; and Varun Dhawan has your full attention. Co-star Shradhha Kapoor plays Vinny, a semi-leader of the pack now called “Indian Stunners” (WHAT IS THIS NAME?) by virtue of being the only girl in it, and Suru’s childhood friend/love interest. She goes through her routines with competence, but sharing the stage with Dhawan does her no favours — he’s on fire in comparison. But that’s about all that’s hot about this film. Oh, and that one song shot with Dhawan, Kapoor and Lauren Gottleib (who makes an appearance in the second half to basically show Kapoor up) — the cinematography is super, and both ladies look fantastic.
Based on the real story of a Mumbai troupe called Fictitious Dance, which actually did become the first Indian troupe to qualify for the World Hip Hop Championship in Vegas, here was D’Souza’s chance to create a dance film with an actual, and potentially compelling, storyline. But he seems to have been distracted by a nostalgic moonwalk back to a time when Prabhudeva’s Michael Jackson-Rajnikant mash-ups were all the rage. That I can still make peace with, but I cannot for the life of me understand why we always have to bring in a sudden patriotic zinger, and dedicate the climax to god. I understand that when you’re on a world stage of any kind, there’s pride that you’re representing your country, and you’re grateful to god, the universe, your parents and stuffed toy all of whom helped you get here, but if you were to stay realistic, it’s more likely that a dance troupe would be slamming moves to a remix of Chikni Chameli, not a dubstep version of Vande Mataram. By the time Namo, Nam, Namaste starts looping, you get roused…from your seat…and out the exit door.
Kids and teenagers will probably enjoy it more than I did; for the rest of you, this is recommended only if you love dance videos, think you’re going to enjoy watching Prabhudeva’s Urvashi Urvashi game face, or ogling Dhawan’s newly minted super-abs.