Chance pe Dance is the third collaboration between actor Shahid Kapoor and director Ken Ghosh. And much like Ishq Vishq and Fida before this, Kapoor is almost the only good thing in the movie. Almost. The fresh faced Genelia D’Souza thankfully replaced Jiah Khan and is the only reason I enjoyed Chance Pe Dance more than Ghosh’s earlier two films.
The story is one you’ve heard before, most recently in the 2009 release Luck by Chance. Kapoor plays a struggling actor who travels from Delhi to Bombay to become a hero, because, well, everyone since his birth thought he should be. Not the film industry though. Much like the thousands who come here every year, Sameer Behl (Kapoor) goes from audition to audition, most often getting passed over by a less talented but better connected pretender. Eventually though, the contender gets his due (obviously), and we spend two predictable hours finding out how. Sonia Sharma (D’Souza) is a budding choreographer who crosses paths with him over and over, becoming his life coach and girlfriend in this milieu.
To his credit, Ghosh keeps the story light, with no unnecessary emotional drama. Sameer has a good relationship with his father despite his career choice, he never faces too bad a scrap, and even when the going gets really bad, he doesn’t forget to wear his designer glasses or his smile. The humor, scattered generously through the film, isn’t particularly intelligent, but then, neither are the characters, and the sheer likability of the two leads helps you wade through it, relatively dry.
Another positive in this film is the way Ghosh has chosen to shoot his non-dance songs, two in particular. In the track "Rishta Hai Mera," he shows the aspirations and ambitions of the characters by making them larger than life, using digital imagery to make them sit on bridges and walk taller than buildings. Whether this device has been used before I cannot say, but in this track I felt it worked really well. Also, in the romantic number "Pal Mein Hi," he uses a warm yellow filter which I feel added a certain ambience without being overbearing as in Ram Gopal Verma's “blue” films.
The film is far from perfect though. Kapoor has always been one of the best dancers in the Indian film industry, having trained and taught under Shaimak Davar, and this is the first dance film that he has made. It is a wonder then that the actor was dissatisfied with this film as his first out-and-out display of his immense talent on the dance floor. Despite the posters of Michael Jackson, So You Think You Can Dance, and Chicago that adorn his walls throughout the movie, there is barely a glimmer of great dance. Even for D’Souza, who is supposed to be the choreographer, neither is the opening sequence jaw-dropping nor is anything else. What was most distracting, though, was the terrible, angle shifting and frame cutting that is used in almost all the dance sequences, including the one at an inter-school dance competition. None of it was worthy of a dance movie.
Most of the first half is a drag, because while well conceived (if that were possible in the clichéd setup, that is), it is very loosely written and not engaging. The dance numbers are few, far between, and far away from being fierce or fiery. The music, whilst not annoying, lacks a certain punch. There is a moment about five minutes before the interval though, that the situation comes to a boil, and one can almost smell a satisfying second half. No such luck though, as the crisis that we anticipate an entertaining solution to resolves itself too soon. And so Ghosh thought it wise to add more twists and turns at breakneck speed, until you just want it to end. There is not a worse scene than Behl’s final acting audition though, and it is at that point that the film slips half a grade point in my mind.
What struck me the most, though, is that even though Behl complains about his being overlooked and all the other sad things in life (a scene I thought, by the way, Kapoor performed remarkably well), there’s a scene toward the end, where his father, sitting in faraway Delhi, can’t switch a channel without his son being on it. There could’ve been a less subtle way to bring him to his destiny I suppose, and am therefore just glad that Ghosh did not know of it.
To be completely fair, I think Chance Pe Dance is not without merit. It struck me as a better film than Luck by Chance, and could have even been in the league of Jab We Met had it been handled better. Of the leads, Genelia is cute, fits her role to a T, and perhaps would’ve been even more likable had she had a more substantial part. Shahid Kapoor does a very good turn as well, which is surprising, because in the trailers it seems like he is hamming his way through the film. His hairstyle though, is another thing. Until the final scene in the film, where he finally gets them cropped, Kapoor is carrying forward the disastrous mop of Dil Bole Hadippa.
So, would I recommend that people watch the movie? Yes, I think, mainly because it only promises to be a frothy romantic comedy, and does deliver in part on that. Is it fair to call it a dance movie? No, and that is my main problem with it. Like Aaja Nachle before this, the producers failed to work on their basic premise, which was to have great dance. With dancers in the league of Madhuri Dixit or Shahid Kapoor in this instance, and stories revolving around their dance, it seems criminal to shortchange them in the choreography department. Even the Dil Bole Hadippa mix was better choreographed. So if you’re looking for a Desi Step Up, I would rather sit at home and watch an episode of Dance India Dance.