ABCD 2 is the sequel to ABCD, the successful dance film from choreographer Remo D’Souza. This one is bigger, boasting of more bankable stars along with dancers Prabhu Deva and Lauren Gottlieb. The story is based on Fictitious, a dance troupe from Nallasopara that made it to the finals of an international dance competition. ABCD 2 is probably the most self-aware film out of the Hindi film industry this year. It knows its strengths and limitations as well as PrabhuDeva knows his dance and plays on the former while keeping the latter to a minimum. More than half the star cast is unaware of the ABCD of acting but almost every one of them is an excellent dancer. And that’s all the film asks of them.
ABCD 2 is a film that is tricky to review. You cannot praise it to the skies because it simply does not deserve that but it will also come across as insincere if you are unnecessarily snarky about it (And more often than not, I am not a big fan of snarky reviews anyway!). That’s the self-aware part of the film. The makers know what they have made and thanks to the success of the first film (also to the innumerable dance reality shows on TV and dancers from those shows are part of the cast here) it also has a dedicated following. There were hoots and whistles for moments in the film in general and some of the cast members in particular. True to that, the dance numbers are quite stupendous. Of course they maintain kayfabe in a competition with all the slow motion and props but the whole thing is lovely to watch. It’s a one line plot with several contrivances but in set piece after set piece they’ve outdone themselves in the choreography department. And in a generic triumph of the underdog story it’s worth cheering for.
Outside of all the song and dance there is very little of what you can call filmmaking or direction. There are subplots shoehorned that amount to nothing. There is Pooja Batra who was probably hanging out at the filming locations and they thought of giving her a scene or two. The Prabhu Deva story that forms the interval block is so conveniently resolved that you wonder why all the fuss. But Remo does make some good decisions. The love story between Vishnu (Varun Dhawan) and Vinnie (Shraddha Kapoor) is only acknowledged and doesn’t form a big plot point. Olive’s (Lauren Gottlieb) entry into the scheme of things creating an apparent discomfort isn’t needlessly stretched. It’s to Remo’s credit that he keeps most things at a surface level and chooses not to milk the life out of the emotional parts of his story. It’s nice that they let Prabhu Deva play a Tamilian (Disclosure: I have not watched the first film) but it is not cool they made him say the ridiculous Enna da Rascala line. And after Gottlieb’s uncomfortable presence in Welcome 2 Karachi, she gets a role where she can be herself – a scintillating dancer.
But why 3D? To watch Prabhu Deva poke at shampoo (!) bubbles? To watch coins flying in the air and other such tricks? To watch these guys play with lightsabers? At a time when even massive CGI-exploding-from-every-frame films get denounced for going the 3D route, why a dance film? It could have been easier on the eyes but ABCD 2 is not half bad.
(An edited version of this was published in The New Indian Express)