ABCD, an acronym for Any Body Can Dance, should have been more fun than it is, given that it’s a true-blue 3D dance movie packed with energetic musical set-pieces. But the film suffers from the same malady that plagues this genre everywhere. Like the Step Up movies from which it’s evidently inspired, ABCD has a threadbare, predictable plot, and a cast of professional dancers who can break into gravity-defying moves but can’t deliver a line of dialogue convincingly.

Prabhu Deva stars as Vishnu, the chief instructor at a big-league dance company, who finds himself out in the cold when his shallow business partner (Kay Kay Menon) gives his job to a fancy American choreographer. Encouraged by a friend, Vishnu decides to start his own studio in a rundown garage, offering to train young dance enthusiasts from a lower middle class neighborhood for free.The wafer-thin screenplay reads like a laundry list of clichés, as the narrative moves clunkily from one tired plot-point to another. There’s a love triangle going on in the troupe, a follow-your-heart message delivered through another subplot, and there’s no escape from such overarching themes as the merits of hard work and honest competition.

To be fair, you don’t go into a dance movie expecting a layered script and character depth, but it’s unfortunate that even the dance numbers in ABCD seem interchangeable. There’s one set-piece filmed skillfully in the rain that stands out, as does the climatic performance at a dance competition. Yet, if none of it is particularly memorable, blame it equally on the disappointing soundtrack by Sachin-Jigar that doesn’t offer one unforgettable track. The ensemble cast of dancers has an infectious enthusiasm when it comes to their moves, but they’re woefully inept in the acting department. It doesn’t help that director Remo D’Souza (a well known Bollywood choreographer himself) demands full-on melodrama from his amateur actors in the film’s final act, and stays too long on their awkward close-ups in the emotional bits.

Prabhu Deva plays it straight as their committed instructor, occasionally giving you reason to smile as he breaks into a dance himself. Kay Kay Menon, meanwhile, sportingly sinks his teeth into the caricature that is the character of the cut-throat businessman who gets to deliver such bumper-sticker lines as: “Medicority is king” and “Packaging is everything”.

At 2 hours and 20 minutes, ABCD is too long. There’s some genuinely original choreography up there, but it’s lost in a plodding film with characters you couldn’t care less about.I’m going with a generous two out of five for ABCD. Even if it’s true what this film claims – that any body can dance – it also provides evidence that the same is not true of acting!

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