Film Review: Chance Pe Dance

Directed by: Ken Ghosh

Starring: Shahid Kapoor, Genelia

I love dance films. Indeed, one day I dream of being in a film based on dance where the scene would start in a dance studio with myself and lots of trained dancers working it for the camera. As the moves get funkier and the hair swishing gets wilder, the action would spill out onto the street and at first, onlookers would be wowed by the scene, then join in the routine as I jump on top of a taxi (not a normal car, it has to be a taxi) and finish the dance number off. I was hoping CPD would make me feel this way after watching it and having avidly watched and rewatched Glee recentlyand generally loving dance based musicals, my expectations for CPD were quite high. After all, the promos showed Shahid Kapoor pulling some interesting dance moves and I was also curious to see how he would deal with krumping, a dance form that is new to Bollywood…

CPD is the story of Sameer  Behl (Kapoor), an aspiring actor/dancer who spends his days juggling auditions whilst working as a courier to make ends meet. Sameer is desperately searching for his big break and  just when he thinks he has found it, he loses it. Unfortunately, this cycle comes to a head when a director who promises to make Sameer a star changes his mind, Sameer’s landlord evicts him from his house and his best friend falls out with him. Forced to live in his car, Sameer is encouraged to apply for a talent search contest by Sonia (Genelia) a choreographer who Sameer falls in love with. Sameer also gets a job teaching a bunch of misfit kids how to dance. Will Sameer be able to win the talent search and realise his dream?

As one can see, the story is very simple and quite predictable. Technically, the film looks nice, with a youth orientated feel with jaunty camera angles, neon colours used throughout and the lighting consistently bright and happy, even in the (by this film’s standards) darker moments.  The film also uses split screens, fuzzing and lots of flashing lights which have various effects – while I thought the first two were done well, the latter felt headache inducing and could have been toned down. I did like the way the camera did close ups of Shahid’s face in key comedy and emotional moments which I felt made these scenes stand out from the rest of the film.

The biggest problem for me was how much of an easy watch this film was. It really is very passive, staying in neutral most of the time and when it does go up a gear, it quickly goes back to neutral again, losing the impact of the change of gear. The film covers so many themes that are relevant to a young audience – wanting to make it big in a creative career, dealing with back stabbing friends, the sheer competition one is up against for the job of their dreams, parental pressures, financial pressures. Unfortunately, CPD starts off many threads in the first half which are not really resolved or addressed in a satisfactory manner and the regulation happy ending that doesn’t feel too happy because the film has not really given enough cause to care for the characters. Even the big dance number at the end of the film fails to overwhelm us, despite Shahid popping and locking and eight packing for dear life.

This is the other problem with CPD – a dance based film needs to have some magnificent set pieces – a simple story can be forgiven for amazing dance sequences (see Aaja Nachle or Dil To Pagal Hai which had a decent story and dance numbers)  but Shahid does not seem to be challenged by the choreography. The krumping which is a novel concept is almost lost on us and is saved only by Shahid’s dance abilities which make complicated moves look very simple. Furthermore, Shahid is a much stronger dancer than Genelia and at times, overshadows her totally with his slick moves. I did like the styling in the film, with Shahid dressed in Ed Hardy T-shirts, combats and tracksuits whilst Genelia is cute as a button in pastel jersey tops, leggings, denim and at one stage, a really nice jumpsuit teamed with some gladiator sandals. Despite feeling a little dated, the styling is definitely a plus point for the film.

Moving onto performances, Shahid carries the film on his shoulders with ease, almost sleepwalking through the role. It is clear he has not had to push any limits for this role and all talk of this being based on his life is the PR talking –  this is a shame as there are two particular emotional scenes (one is pre-interval and the other towards the end of the film) that are very good and give the film something that it drastically needs – soul. To be fair, Shahid does everything he is asked to do and executes the role in a very clinical manner – it is a shame that the story is not tighter and the director did not push Shahid further because it is not Shahid who is bad but the film itself. Similarly, Genelia seems to reprise her Jaane Tu..Ya Jaane Na role and though she shows promise in some comedy scenes and the emotional scenes,  her performance too is by the book and something we know she can do easily. One hopes she begins to move away from the baby voice act and into more grown up roles – she does have potential. Both Shahid and Genelia do have a good screen chemistry and though this is not utilised in the film, it does make it more watchable than it should be, to both actors’ credit. Everyone else in the film plays stock character roles and as a result, no one else stands out.

I wanted to like CPD. I even waited a few days to review the film to see if some time and space would alter my views. Sadly, it doesn’t. Much like Kismat Connection, this film really is one for Shahid’s fans and a one-time watch for everyone else.  I do think a repeat viewing may benefit the film as it won’t have such huge expectations hanging over it but this still remains a time pass film rather than a must-watch. This is a real shame because CPD does have all the elements to be a really good film and would have benefitted massively from some more development and canny writing. At best, a family entertainer, at worst, not one of the best of the year so far. It looks like I will have to look to another film to see my dance dream realised on celluoid….

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