Director: Remo D'Souza
Cast: Varun Dhawan, Shraddha Kapoor, Prabhu Deva, Nora Fatehi
Street Dancer 3D is a master-class in all the incredible things the human body can do. For the running time of this film – two hours and twenty-four minutes – people are pirouetting, leaping, flipping, contorting and moving their limbs in impossible ways. Watching them, I thought – if the script was half as nimble as these gifted people, this film would have been a smash. Sadly, that is not the case.
What we get is a line-up of endless dance-offs in which Indian, Pakistani and British dancers keep trying to outdo each other – in studios, cafes, night clubs and even in the streets of London. Any space doubles up as a battleground – in one scene, the rivalry dissolves into a food fight with people throwing donuts at each other. The film is in 3D so of course, some come hurling directly at you.
I know that we don't go into dance films expecting high-IQ storytelling but this one is unexpectedly juvenile. It's almost as if writer-director Remo D'Souza and his co-writers Tushar Hiranandani, Farhad Samji and Jagdeep Sidhu, three of whom are also directors, were making it up as they went along. Painstaking effort and sweat has been invested into the dance sequences. The choreography is elaborate, the costumes are fantastical and sheer talent on display is undeniable. But the connecting plot that actually gives the dance meaning is feeble and in places, even comical.
I know that we don't go into dance films expecting high IQ storytelling but this one is unexpectedly juvenile. It's almost as if writer-director Remo D'Souza and his co-writers Tushar Hiranandani, Farhad Samji and Jagdeep Sidhu, three of whom are also directors, were making it up as they went along.
So one track builds the rivalry between these groups – the Indians and the Pakistanis consistently try to outdo each other, only to realize that the real enemy is the Brits. Then there's the strand of our hero Sahej trying to win a competition to fulfil his brother's dream. And the propeller, driving the story forward, is a track about illegal immigrants from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. These men came to London with big dreams but they end up homeless and hungry. Inayat, the leader of the Pakistani dance group, wants to rehabilitate them. So they all enter a dance competition called Ground Zero, in which we are told, the best of the best qualify but only the craziest win. What does that mean?
In an interview about the film, Varun Dhawan said that he practiced dancing for 7 hours a day and did an additional 90 minutes of weight training. Which could be the reason he is bare-chested in so many scenes, including one in which he is dancing alone in his studio to express anguish. He is deeply unhappy but the bronzer and ripped abs are perfectly in place. The characters in the film are so poorly written that even competent actors struggle – Varun is painfully bland. Aparshakti Khurana weeps a lot. Shraddha Kapoor attempts to have both, compassion and swag but it's a losing battle. There's also Nora Fatehi – she's a terrific dancer but in the song Garmi, she's doing a step which makes it look like, and there is no polite way to say this, she's humping the floor. In the same song, Varun flicks sweat from her waist and sings, 'Lal dress main rani bilkul red velvet ka cake lage'.
The only one who makes any impression is Prabhu Deva who gives us Muqabla 2.0. His body moves with grace and a staggering fluidity. Clearly the masters never get old.
Neither do classics like Mile Sur Mera Tumhara. The song, produced by ad filmmaker Kailash Surendranath, first played in 1988 and became an anthem for national integration. The Raag Bhairavi melody, which featured the biggest artists of the country including Lata Mangeshkar, Amitabh Bachchan and Kamal Haasan, was an instant classic. Remo reworks it here and briefly, the film lifts a little.
But that's not enough to get you through this tedious saga. By the end, you will feel as miserable as Aparshakti Khurana looks!