'Street Dancer' Movie Review: Dance sequences lift an otherwise faltering film

A Potpourri of Vestiges Review

By Murtaza Ali Khan

In my recent review of Om Raut’s Tanhaji, I had extensively talked about how a lot of the content these days is targeted at the youth. This week’s release Street Dancer too is intended for the young audiences. It’s true of both the nature of the content as well as the nature of the treatment. As the title suggests, Street Dancer revolves around two groups of street dancers constantly trying to one-up the other by any means possible. But what makes it interesting is the fact that these compete on the streets of London. And if that’s not enough, one of these groups comprises Indians and the other comprises Pakistanis. While the Indian group is led by Sahej (portrayed by Varun Dhawan), the Pakistani group is led by Inayat (essayed by Shraddha Kapoor). Other than the central theme of dance, the film cleverly touches upon immigrant issues which are becoming more and more relevant in the contemporary times.

Street Dancer was initially supposed to be the sequel to ABCD2 but after Disney’s exit from Indian film production, the film was renamed to its existing title with Bhushan Kumar deciding to produce it under his banner of T-Series. Remo D’Souza who directed ABCD and ABCD2 is yet again the director. The other common link between the three films other than Remo of course is Prabhu Deva whose character Ram Prasad aka Anna runs the restaurant which the two dancing groups frequently visit to watch India-Pakistan cricket matches. And they often end up confronting each other resulting in ugly fights. However, all that changes when Anna introduces Inayat to the pain and sufferings of the illegal immigrants (consisting of homeless Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, etc) living in London. She takes it upon herself to win a major dance competition so that she can use the prize money to bail out the immigrants. But Sahej and group yet again come in her way. Will the Indians and Pakistanis ever join hands?
As you would have gauged by now, the story of Street Dancer is quite straightforward but the choreography succeeds in giving the movie a big push. As the narrative progresses the dance moves get more and more exhilarating. And that’s what keeps the viewer engaged even when the plot loses the impetus. While Shraddha Kapoor looks really good in some of the scenes, Varun Dhawan fails to bring his A-game to the table. It’s difficult to imagine how he is able to do that in films like October and Badlapur. Maybe he is a director’s actor and the likes of Remo aren’t able to push him hard enough. The best performance in the movie comes from Aparshakti Khurana who steals every scene he is a part of. Another major attraction of the film is Nora Fatehi who for a change has a substantial part in a film. She has exclusively done so many item numbers of late that this comes as a pleasant surprise. Every time she is on the dance floor she is able to lift the movie. The same can be said of Prabhu Deva who is absolutely brilliant throughout the film, especially while revisiting his famous dance movies from the song “Muqabla”. Street Dancer may lack the seriousness of Gully Boy but it does succeed in bringing our attention to the difficulties faced by street dancers and immigrants.
Rating: 6/10
A version of this review was first published in The Sunday Guardian
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