Remo D’Souza on how his films borrow from real life and why he chose to cast stars in the sequel to Any Body Can Dance.
Any Body Can Dance (ABCD) made with dancing talent in lead roles, was a success. Why did you decide to cast stars in the film’s sequel?
ABCD did well, people loved it. But the way ABCD 2 is being received even before its release, is different. And the difference is because of Varun Dhawan and Shraddha Kapoor. Dharmesh and Salman too, have a huge following due to the reach television has, but it doesn’t match up to the craze for Varun and Shraddha. I had expected ABCD to do better business but I realise it’s chiefly a TV success. This time, I want to see the box-office opening.
What was your criteria for selecting Kapoor and Dhawan?
For ABCD, I had needed dancers who could act, but for the sequel, I needed actors who could dance. I had directed Varun in Disco Deewane for Student of the Year, and knew he has great energy. As for the girl, I needed an Indian face because she is supposed to be a dancer from Nalasopara, a distant Mumbai suburb. Varun recommended Shraddha but I was apprehensive as I hadn’t seen her dance. But she offered to audition and worked hard for it.
For a dance film, are there other, technical criterion to consider, such as body type?
Between Varun and Shraddha, the former is a dancer but it is he who needed more work. Shraddha has a lean, dancer’s body; I only had to work on her core muscles. But Varun’s body already has its muscle memory of Bollywood style. He had to unlearn that and acquire the body language of a hip-hop dancer.
And Prabhudheva is a constant in both the films.
He is a constant in both the films and also my life. He is my idol, it is by following him that I became a dancer, a choreographer and then, a director. I can’t say this for others, but Prabhudheva will be in every ABCD I make even if his character, Vishnu sir, changes in each film. While making ABCD, people suggested I dub his voice as his Hindi is poor. But I refused as it lends his character a certain innocence and vulnerability, which makes him lovable.
The concept of the series, as suggested in the title, borrows from your own life?
ABCD, in a way, charts my journey — my fight to prove that I can make a career out of dancing. The sequel is based on this dance group, Fictitious, who win a competition in Vegas against a group they used to follow. But Varun’s character, Suresh, and his relationship with his mother, is based on my life. When I wanted to come to Mumbai from Gujarat and explore the possibilities of a career in Bollywood, my relatives told my mother I will fail. At one point, a few visiting acquaintances went back and told her I was here but had achieved nothing, which, at the time, was true. This pained me a lot and I asked my mother for a month’s time in which I assured her I would do something. Today, my mother is proud of me.