Wednesday 6 February 2013

It's Akki Versus Prabhu Deva this Friday

It`s Akki Versus Prabhu Deva this Friday

By Subhash K Jha

After Kamal Haasan's bravura Kathak in Vishwaroop, it's time for some serious freestyle Western dancing at the boxoffice. After a dismal week at the boxoffice when nothing worked except Kamal Haasan's kickass stunts in Vishwaroop, we look at the coming Friday with renewed hope.

The two films up for release this week are mainstream entertainers, but those that bend the conventional rules of entertainment.

Choreographer-turned-director Remo d'Souza's Anybody Can Dance, or ABCD, is India's first true-blue dance film. Of course we've earlier had films about protagonists preparing for a big dance competition. Recent notable films on the theme are Yashraj Films' Nach Baliye and Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. These, however, featured actors who dance well.

But ABCD is a dance film with Indian cinema's most celebrated film-based dancer Prabhu Deva taking the lead along with a bevy of well-known choreographers pitching as actors.

And get this. Last week we had the diligent Tamil superstar Vikram speaking his own Hindi lines in Bejoy Nambiar's David. This week Prabhu Deva too speaks his Hindi lines in his own voice.

Laughs Prabhu, `It was a real ordeal. Not just for me but the people who were assigned to get me to speak correctly. But I managed. Let's see how it goes. `

Contrary to a rumours that he has only a cameo to play in ABCD Prabhu says he has a full-fledged role in the film. `I am there throughout. And choreographer Ganesh Acharya plays my best friend. It's not just a film that uses the film medium as a pretext for dancing. There is a very emotional story in ABCD. `

Prabhu says there are glimpses of his own life, his rise from a chorus dancer to a front-liner to a superstar in his field, in ABCD.

Director Remo D'Souza had a nightmarish experience directing his first Hindi film FALTU for producer Vashu Bhagnani. In ABCD he just danced his way through the project.

The other release this week Special 26 is a realistic space for masala superstar Akshay Kumar after the underwhelming performance of his out- and-out potboiler Khiladi 786. Anupam Kher has gone on-record to state Akshay should be given the National award for his performance in Special 26.

The caper-heist adventure film recreates a true-life incident in March 1987where a bunch of con-men posing as CBI officers raided a well-known jewellery store in Mumbai and walked away with loot worth lakhs of rupees.

Director Neeraj Pandey who earlier made a gritty realistic anti-terror thriller A Wednesday, stresses the fact that his film is not a documentary- styled blow-by-blow recreation of the real events but a fast-paced thriller where the characters are not just many steps ahead of the law but also a few steps ahead of audiences' expectations.

Pandey's penchant for turning real-life dilemmas into thrillers is perhaps indicative of the direction that mainstream Hindi cinema must take to follow masses into a mature viewing habit.

The film is a major release for the imaginative production company Viacom 18 who are constantly pushing the envelope in the right direction with films like Kahaani and Inkaar. This time Viacom 18 is pitched against the other big player in the production field UTV, just as Akshay Kumar is pitched against Prabhu Deva,

`How can I be pitched against Akshay? He's such a big star! I am a dancer who's just strayed into acting as an adventure, ` says Prabhu Deva humbly.

Last year he directed Akshay Kumar in the blockbuster Rowdy Rathore. Would Prabhu be as successful in acting as he is at dancing and direction? The last time we saw Prabhu Deva in a full-fledged Hindi film was Rajiv Menon's Sapne in 1996 opposite Kajol. There is a Kajal this week too. But not for Prabhu Deva.

Akshay Kumar pairs up with the Singham girl Kajal Aggarwal in Special 26. Needless to say she is a fictional character in the real-life heist-drama.

It figures.

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