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The basics of ABCD, the film

The people behind Bollywood’s first dance movie say it was a long time coming

Gulf News

In Bollywood films, there’s always scope for song and dance numbers. Even if the on-screen mood is as grim as your lover’s funeral, the sombre atmosphere is often obliterated when the director decides to squeeze in a dream sequence featuring the dead and the living partner to lighten up the mood.

Remember Devdas — the celebrated tragedy starring Shah Rukh Khan as the messed-up lover — had 10 songs.

Does Bollywood really need an answer to Hollywood’s hit dance series Step Up when almost all its films already have dance sequences? Apparently, yes.

Director Remo D’Souza, who brings us ABCD - Anybody Can Dance today, feels a “pure dance-based film” is long overdue for India.

“We are a country obsessed with dance — everywhere I look we are filled with images of dance. But then the idea of a dance film in 3D came along. Nobody has seen a dance film on 3D. Enter ABCD,” D’Souza told tabloid! in an interview.

“This is nothing like Step Up. The only common factor between them is that it has dancers but the story and treatment is entirely different.”

At the trailer launch of ABCD in Dubai, journalists were given 3D glasses to enhance our cinema experience. However, history has taught us to be more cautious when Bollywood films are tagged as 3D. Films such as Dangerous Ishq that was touted as a 3D flick and Don 3 that was converted from 2D to 3D technology were disappointing.

“Earlier 3D films that came were converted. Converted films are always fake. What I did was to shoot the film in 3D. We got the best technicians from around the world to make it happen,” said D’Souza.

But superior technology wasn’t his sole focus. Weaving a strong story was his top priority.

For this he roped in ace choreographers Prabhu Deva, Ganesh Achcarya and Kay Kay Menon. Deva plays the disillusioned dance instructor Vishnu who takes a disjointed group of Mumbai street dancers under his wing and vows to make them famous dancers. The dare-to-dream may not be the most original of ideas, but the actor-dancer-director is convinced that its emotional tenor will strike a rhythm.

“This film is not just a dance film, it is an emotional film. If you want to check out dance, then you can just tune into TV and reality dance shows. ABCD is a film about hope and daring to dream,” said Deva, who has directed and choreographed in blockbusters such as Rowdy Rathore and Wanted. Like all good dance flicks, there’s a villain to squash the dreamers’ spirit. In ABCD, they come in the form of actor Menon. He plays Jahangir Khan, who owns a dance school, and believes that winners are a by-product of smart packaging, not real talent.

But in real life, his outlook is radically different.

“Give me one reason why there should be an item song in cinema? Why should cinema ride piggy-back on a song … these days, films have a lot to do with marketing. All those crores [millions] that it earns is collage of smart marketing gimmicks,” said Menon.

He adds that money can often orchestrate a film’s success and create stars.

“If Paan Singh Tomar had Rs250 million marketing budget, then it would have entered a different league altogether. But there’s no denying the fact that it is a brilliant film,” said Menon, alluding to Irrfan Khan’s award-winning feature as a steeple-chase champion. Menon, who has acted in hits such Life … In A Metro and Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd, says he will always shy away from being treated like a commodity.

“I am not a fruity ka dabbaa [ a fruit drink]. I don’t think human beings should be packaged at all. I love sports because a sportsmen turns into a star because of their performance and not anything else. In our industry, it’s just the opposite. Smart marketing can make stars,” said Menon.

So is it safe to assume that he won’t break into a dance in ABCD? “I am the non-dancing character in the film. With dedicated dancers such as Prabhu and Ganesh around, I won’t even dare to attempt it.”

* ‘ABCD Anybody Can Dance’ releases in the UAE on February 7.