For possibly the nth time in recent memory, Vinay Pathak returns to play the everyman in director Saurabh Shukla’s slice-of-life drama Pappu Can’t Dance Saala, which flirts with the issue of migrants struggling to make it in Mumbai.

Pathak’s character Vidyadhar arrives from Benares when he lands a job as a medical representative here. Almost immediately he finds it hard to wrap his head around everything from Mumbai’s street-food and traffic, to the colloquial Hindi spoken by its residents. He’s also particularly offended by his bindaas new neighbor, a backup dancer played by Neha Dhupia, who throws loud parties at her flat next door. When she’s evicted from the building following a complaint he makes, she forcibly moves in with him.

Predictably, the film goes down the romantic-comedy route from this point on, and there are some charming moments between the leads. Unfortunately, however, the script meanders in its final act to focus on the relatively inconsequential subplot of Dhupia’s sudden career upswing…and here the film has lost you.

Nicely performed by Pathak, and particularly by Dhupia who reveals great vulnerability as a star aspirant toughened by a tough city, Pappu Can’t Dance Saala is a film with some heart.

I’m going with two out of five for director Saurabh Shukla’s Pappu Can’t Dance Saala. Too bad they didn’t spend more time hammering out a better script.

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