Quite soon into the film, Prabhudeva’s character says : ‘should I show or tell’? In a dance movie, is that even a question?
As it turns out, the showing perks up ‘ABCD 2′. A little. When Prabhudeva is on the floor, there is a snap and pop, even though his moves are familiar. A couple of numbers do crackle. There are two dancers in here who are amazing. But the rest of them, and their sequences, turn into the seen-this-so-what’s-new glaze. And when the film stops to look around for a story, which it does much too frequently in its two- and-a-half-hour run time, it turns banal and listless.
A group of underdog hip-hop dancers, reviled for copying, want to resurrect their name. In the movie’s beginning is its end. The only way a film like this can beat predictability is to deliver as many surprises as it can. But the writing department is the weakest : clichés abound as the characters whirl about frantically in an attempt to shed cardboard.
Prabhudeva reprises his good-natured coach Vishnu Sir from the 2013 ‘ABCD’, who believed anybody can dance: the original coasted on a bunch of unknown faces. The sequel has gone starry, with Varun Dhawan and Shraddha Kapoor: Dhawan is earnest and the slightly better dancer (his dancing skills have been evident in his previous outings) ; Shraddha Kapoor is beautifully toned and lissome and manages to execute a few steps well enough. But neither can match up to the real dancers when ranged alongside.
Post interval, the action moves to Las Vegas, and we are treated to many standard aerial shots of glittery skyscrapers as our little troupe goes about its way, trying to deal with a lead character’s dodgy disappearance, and an accident which allows for the return of blonde bombshell Lauren Gottlieb, who gets a full dance to herself. But these are minor excitements which manage to lift the film only momentarily.
Much of ‘ABCD2′ is inspired by real life: a Mumbai group made it to the world hip-hop championships a few years ago under tough circumstances. The film sets out to prove that all of us can do with second chances, and that Indians can do hip-hop as well as the rest of the world (which we can easily believe given the astonishing degree of expertise we see on our reality shows) But a dance movie needs to electrify. That’s missing: all the I-love-my-India drippiness overwhelms the choreography. And why is it so long? It just goes on and on.