3 Stars (out of 4)
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It’s hard for a movie to express that feeling of the first spark of romantic interest. I’m not talking about the eventual drama and passion, but that first giddy conversation in which you realize, “He/she is cute and nice and funny, and I sure hope that he/she feels the same way about me.” Chance Pe Dance nails that feeling.
Shahid Kapoor plays Sameer, a wannabe actor who moved from Delhi to Mumbai to pursue his dream. His biggest claim to fame after three years is an embarrassing commercial role as “The Sarong Sultan.” He auditions for roles he never gets and supports himself by working as a courier. He lives in a shabby apartment where he uses an iron to toast bread and stores his clothes in a broken refrigerator.
Things start looking up for Sameer when he meets a pretty choreographer named Tina (Genelia D’Souza) on an audition. He makes an ass of himself at first, but they part ways with some flirtatious teasing. That night, Shahid impresses a director at a dance club and lands a starring role in the director’s next movie, which will feature Tina’s choreography.
The good times quickly end when Sameer loses his courier job and is kicked out of his apartment. Because he won’t get any money from the movie role until the film starts rehearsals, Sameer takes a job teaching dance to a bunch of misfit elementary school students. He lives out of his compact car and washes up in the boys’ lavatory before school starts.
The interlude with the students is so brief that it hardly needs to be in the film. But the kids are cute and serve to keep Sameer from dwelling upon his misfortunes.
Dance Pe Chance gets a little sappy in its second half. One of Sameer’s auditions turns in to a corny speech about self-belief, and his reconciliation with his disapproving father feels forced. The movie’s brief (by Bollywood standards) runtime of just over two hours doesn’t allow some of the sideplots to develop as fully as I would have liked.
Also, for a movie with “Dance” in the title, the choreography is forgettable. It employs a slow style of hip-hop that emphasizes isolation moves, giving the routines a stop-start feeling. Most of the numbers feature Sameer dancing solo, without Tina. The climactic routine is edited to showcase more of Kapoor’s greased-up torso than his dance moves.
Those complaints aside, the movie excels at portraying Sameer and Tina as a likable, believable couple. Their relationship is based on mutual respect, not the usual plot-driven bickering that often precedes romance in movies. Tina encourages Sameer, and he does his best to live up to her belief in him. They bring out the best in each other, reminding us of the type of romantic partner we all strive to be on our best days.