Lakshmi - Dance wins
Prabhu Deva is the synonym for dance and when he headlines the cast of a dance film expectations are sure to skyrocket. Director Vijay is reuniting with Prabhu Deva after the super hit 'Devi' and whether this one will get the same verdict from the audiences remains to be seen.
Nandhini (Aishwarya Rajesh) a single mother and her twelve year old child Lakshmi (Ditya Bhande) move in to Chennai. The school going Lakshmi's heart is on dance but her mother hates the very word. Lakshmi befriends a restaurant owner Krishna (Prabhu Deva) who allows her to dance to her hearts content to the music played. there. The little girl gets to know that a Pride of India dance competition is underway and wanting to train in the dance academy she convinces Krishna to pose as her father who agrees after much coaxing and also pays her fees. Later Krishna also is forced to again act as Lakshmi's father in he school too where the headmistress Kovai Sarala starts to have a crush on him. In the qualifying round Lakshmi is unable to perform due to stage fear and since the whole team is disqualified she is thrown out. Krishna then takes her back to the academy to plead with the teacher but the judges there are shocked to see him and one of the judges makes an offer to Krishna to allow the children to compete.. Who is Krishna and what is the deal that the judges make and how he inspires Lakshmi and her team to win forms the rest of the screenplay.
Ditya Bhande is a bundle of energy and fire and apart from her excellent dance moves she wins hearts with her emoting as well especially when building her relationship with Prabhu Deva. In his entire career Prabhu Deva has excelled in the charming and hyper active kind of roles. For the very first time he gets to play a sober character which he carries with grace and elegance. He shines in the scenes in which he bonds with little Lakshmi letting her dominate the screen and also scores in the emotion packed climax. Fans get two PD special bonuses in the form of a vibrant free style dance in the flashback and when he steps it up along with the children to the music less rendition of a motivational poem. Aishwarya Rajesh has once again gone against the grain playing mother to a twelve year old and no doubt she does it flawlessly. However a talent such as her is wasted in a role that could have been anyone's. Newcomer Sophia (Aishu's sister-in-law in real life) as the dance teacher with a grey shade to the character has done a neat job. Salman Yusuff Khan as Prabhu Deva's rival and a cardboard villain has a nice screen presence and he also stuns with his own exemplary dance moves in a sequence. Kovai Sarala as the headmistress brings on a smile or two when she tries to manage her lies to Aishwarya after sending Lakshmi to Mumbai for the competition. The talented Karunakaran exists in this movie for no reason and the only time he evokes laughter is when he makes a sudden appearance in the climax as if by magic. All the children in the dance troupe are extremely talented dancers and special mention is due to the boys playing Arjun and the chubby Arnold who vie with each other for Lakshmi's attention.
Vijay's films are always family friendly and technically sound and 'Lakshmi' too fits the bill. The initial story buildups in the first half especially the relationship between PD and Ditya raises the curiosity and keeps the audiences engaged. The music less dance is highly emotional and packs a punch. On the whole all l the dance sequences are vibrant and its heartwarming to watch the talented pre-teens handling highly difficult moves so effortlessly and exhibiting zest in the frames.
On the downside the film is loaded with contrived characterization and sequences. The screenplay moves at a flat pace with nothing interesting or new happening causing tedium to set in. One has to ask why the cliched relationship between PD and Aishu which only works mars the naration. The villain must have been trained in the M.N.Nambiar era as all his plans against PD are outdated and especially throwing pins on the dance floor to make children lose is ridiculous to say the least. In this age of 24 hours satellite television a film with just dance as its mainstay is not enough to engage the audience and a strong drama is necessary which 'Lakshmi' sadly lacks.
Sam C.S. with his songs and background score is one of the pluses of 'Lakshmi' while veterans and constant Vijay collaborators Nirav Shah and Antony do no wrong in the shots and the cuts. Vijay known for borrowing heavily from Hollywood and world cinema has this time given the treatment to 'The Karate Kid' starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith trying to replace dance with martial arts. The result is a botched up effort with the actors and the dance sequences keeping it afloat.
Verdict : Go for it along with your kids to enjoy the passionate dances of Prabhu Deva, Ditya and the other children