Director: Saurabh Shukla
Cast & Crew: Vinay Pathak, Neha Dhupia, Rajat Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah, Sanjay Mishra
Synopsis: Pappu Can’t Dance Saala is about two people from contrasting cultures. The boy (Vinay Pathak) is from Varanasi, the girl (Neha Dhupia) is a chorus dancer in Hindi films. They do not get along well but eventually realise that they have to respect each other.
Review: Let me begin by forewarning you that this movie does not involve empowering a certain Pappu with two left feet to dance. Ironically the Pappu in this film does not even “chance pe dance” to be downright filmy crude. He is way too pious to entertain such fun, sensuality notwithstanding. He is so soaked in virtues that you simply want to de-addict him from goodness altogether. Too much of a good thing can really get to you and onscreen perhaps it gets magnified and gets to you in good measure.
Touted to be a romantic comedy, “Pappu Can’t Dance Saala” is more a clash of cultures, constant bickering between a traditionally chivalrous man and a no holds barred contemporary woman. And that’s what the script really is, just a series of bitter exchanges between the two leads, witty at times, but overall very pointless. The chemistry is so force fitted; it feels like flax seeds sprinkled over fettuccini. Tastes nothing, but may look very appealing. Barely comical and far from romantic, it just proves one thing, that Pappus are somehow guaranteed a happy ending. The nerd will always beg to differ from the herd and will finally be his ruthless lady love’s calling. The mismatched couple seem unconvinced themselves about the merit their attraction holds. Onscreen this clearly unfolds. All’s well that Pappu’s well.
So we have a Benaras belonging Vidyadhar Acharya living in Mumbai, trying hard to adapt to the city’s forbidden ways, bogged down by the fact that everything around him defames his principles. Neha Dhupia plays Mehek, a struggling back-up dancer, who dresses bold, speaks crass but is somewhere only safeguarding her own vulnerability. Initially at loggerheads with Meheks party animal ways, Vidyadhar finally makes peace with her when she forcibly stays with him post being evacuated from her flat by the vigilance department that conducts a raid in their building. After being a nerve wrecking hazard to each other, they eventually fall in love proving the age old adage that opposites do attract. But this time the attraction seems like its heading in the wrong direction since there is no trace of real longing in the onscreen couple’s eyes for each other. And I dare not call it restrained methodical acting. There are some moments that seem memorable though.
Like Mehek’s undying enthusiasm towards her dance rehearsals, Rajat Kapoor’s heavily bearded look and realistic performance as dance mentor to Mehek and a troupe of struggling artistes. Seeming initially like a selfish task master, it is he who finally glimpses the emptiness in Mehek’s eyes when Acharya leaves for his hometown Benaras after a bout of heated exchange with his lady love. Of course no prizes for guessing what happen in the end. Somehow a bad script does a good job of wasting a great star cast. Pathak off late has been cast way too often as a geek and fails to deliver. He seems monotonous in his idyllic assumptions of culture. But the real hero of the film is Neha Dhupia, who despite a weak script makes a strong impression. Her true to life depiction of an aspiring dancer, ruthless in demeanor, street smart in her attitude and passionate to make it big, is remarkable. She is the saving grace of this otherwise tough to rescue film.
Saurabh Shukla who has previously made films like ‘Mudda: The Issue’ and ‘Chehraa’ has written and directed the film. His films seem solely character-driven, loosing grip on the pace of the plot, leaving you wondering as to how the drops dead gorgeous go getter Mehek actually could get down to pining for a simpleton like Acharya. At best he seems like a crutch she would certainly depend on but would not be whole-heartedly involved with. Some opposites are best headed in opposite directions, rather than walking down the by lanes of love and attraction. Shukla’s film fails to seem realistic, despite borrowing heavily from realism. Watch it only for Dhupia and her spirited performance. Otherwise, it offers nothing new except for a short tutorial on how angst can slowly convert itself into half-baked attraction.
Verdict : Great casting plus bad scripting leads to time & effort wasting!