FOR HER EYES ONLY
Shahid Kapoor’s female fans have the actor’s physical charms to tide them through this wan showbiz-struggler drama. What about the rest of us?
JAN 17, 2010 – FOR THE SECOND TIME IN AS MANY WEEKS, the critic is faced with a conundrum. How does one rate a film that’s not interesting enough to earn outright approval, yet not incompetent enough to warrant outpourings of spite? How, in other words, does one go about the task of reviewing a piece of mass-manufactured plastic, crafted without a shred of individuality or originality, and yet shiny enough to proffer a minimal amount of distraction? At least Pyaar Impossible, last week, was saved (to some extent) by the genre it sprang from – the romantic comedy. The falling in and out of love is rarely without its rewards, and even if there were no heartfelt epiphanies to take home, the moonstruck among us could make do with the sight of Priyanka Chopra pretending to be a public relations executive when her real occupation was to parade around in micro-pants as the hottest mom on the planet.
Genelia, unfortunately, is incapable of providing those distractions. Hers is a more wholesome appeal, that of the pigtailed girl a couple of doors away who’s had a surprise makeover. But going by the sighs of adoration from the ladies in the audience (including a couple of explicit observations about what they’d like to do with that well-toned physique of his; you go girls!), Shahid Kapoor (playing actor-aspirant Sameer) is the real attraction of Ken Ghosh’s Chance Pe Dance. The last time I overheard such lusty catcalls was when Hrithik Roshan’s torso was clothed in nothing but a patina of sweat as he wielded a broadsword in Jodhaa Akbar. Fans of Shahid, therefore, should (and will) waste no time in heading to the nearest movie screen. He dances like a dream, and he gets twice as many close-ups as poor Genelia, who plays Tina, a smitten choreographer who gradually renounces her identity so she can devote her life to being Sameer’s arm-candy. (And with the biceps in question, who’d blame her?)
Those of us who’d rather watch Shahid perform, however, are stuck with a story that’s curiously free of conflict – or rather, the seeds of conflict are, at no point, allowed to sprout into significance. In his struggle to become a star, Sameer is betrayed by a friend, doubted by his father and dropped by a director (Mohnish Bahl, who inexplicably ends up cheering the hero later). And when Sameer settles temporarily into being a dance instructor at a school, he’s jeered at by the football coach who won’t even shake hands with a man who can… dance, and to make matters worse, Sameer doesn’t especially like children. But each one of these bumps on the road is smoothed over almost instantly – a metaphor that’s inadvertently reinforced by Tina’s character arc as she transforms, under the power of love, from a supremely overcautious driver to someone who nearly causes a pileup in her haste to deliver Sameer to his destination.
As for Sameer, he abandons his starlit dreams to care for a helpless father, a development that could have led to situations where he began to resent this burdensome parent – but two minutes later, the frenzy on television (when Sameer dances his way into the finals of a talent show) convinces the father to direct his son back to showbiz. The kids in Sameer’s dance class aren’t especially skilled, and this could have led to a dash of Chak De India-meets-Aaja Nachle-style underdog intrigue – but one song later, these children win the interschool competition and that plotline is left behind. Sameer borderline-insults Tina when they first meet, and this could have blossomed into some worthwhile romantic friction – but almost immediately, they resolve their tensions. Perhaps the intent was to sidestep every possible cliché – a noble thought, no doubt, but not one that does the movie (or the moviegoer) much good.
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