'Pappu Can't Dance Saala' is one film which actually comes across as a series of episodes from a soap opera, something that neither has any specific beginning or end nor does it have any solid story to tell that would have actually fitted in well into a feature film format. No wonder, it turns out to be a mostly incoherent piece where director Saurabh Shukla takes viewers through different phase of the lives of his lead protagonists but doesn't quite end up creating something really interesting for them.
Let's begin with Vinay Pathak here. He is a small town 30 something man who is a medical representative trying to fight out commission grabbers in the big bad city of Mumbai. He has issues with the 'poori aloo' because it doesn't meet the recipe as set in Banaras. He feels that the 'chalta hai' attitude is ensuring that India remains backwards. Stiff, reserved but reasonably open minded, he is merely trying to live an existence amidst all the absurdities.
On the other hand Neha Dhupia is a back up dancer who doesn't mind being just a 'sakhi' of a heroine, forever plays around with her bubblegum, also wears clothes that have bubble gum pink all over them, knows how to get her way in the Mumbai (big and bad of course) and is very sure about her career even if it requires her to drop her skirt and remove her top, just because she trusts her choreographer (Rajat Kapoor).
With such distinct personalities becoming roommates, possibilities were endless for the writing team to churn out sequences that could have ranged from being hilarious to romantic. The sad part though is that even before one can see some fun round the corner, the film changes track after the interval point that also takes away whatever little context setting that had been done so far.
Now that's a pity because honestly, the initial portions of the film make for decent entertainment. Vinay's initial interaction with a roadside vendor (Sanjay Mishra), his conversations with a colleague (Brijendra Kala) and later his sequences with the society secretary are done quite well. Neha too makes number of scenes as her own, starting right from her own dance sequence where she is happy to be a part of the crowd and later the series of events where she bosses around with Vinay, only to find a permanent place in his house.
There are a few subtle heart-warming scenes as well that keep one's interest alive in 'Pappau Can't Dance Saala'. The scene where Neha decorates the house has its moments while the one where Vinay gifts her sanitary napkins is handled sensitively too. However the film goes downhill in the second half, and how. In fact it won't be wrong to say that it almost seems like a different film after the interval point.
It is due to this very reason that one starts wondering where the film is headed towards. Whether it is Rajat's arrival at Neha's house, Vinay bringing her father on the sets, the extended (and boring) sequences featuring Vinay in Banaras, lecturing that follows in the household with Naseeruddin Shah and later a sudden marriage proposal from Vinay just doesn't cut ice. Frankly, one feels saddened at the turn of events instead of feeling euphoric because honestly, there was just no breathing space given to the protagonists here to even become great friends, leave aside falling in love and deciding to get married.
Thankfully what comes out of the film is performances from its lead actors that are believable. While for Vinay Pathak it is pretty much a walk in the park since he has mastered the art of playing a common man, the one who makes best use of the opportunity provided to her is Neha Dhupia. In one of her meatiest ever roles in the recent times, she gets the nuances right of a small town girl and gets aggressive as well as subtle as required. Moreover she makes one forget the glam Neha Dhupia that one has seen in countless films before and gives an altogether different account of her.
I am sure the makers of 'Pappu Can't Dance Saala' would have some real good reasons to explain why the film has been titled this way. Most likely, there would be a metaphorical/philosophical reference that would be made. However the fact remains that neither is there a character called 'Pappu' in the film nor is there any 'dance'. If at all one has to still draw a parallel then it is the heroine who dances and then addresses her hero as Pappu.
Yes, that's it!