Come Let's Dance



CHENNAI, India -- "Come Let's Dance" ("Aaja Nachle") marks the return to film of once reigning queen of Bollywood, Madhuri Dixit, after a five-year hiatus in America. She still has a svelte figure and indeed retains her excellent dancing ability, but Bollywood writes very few roles for aging divas. Her part in "Come Let's Dance" often seems contrived and the script unconvincing. The curiosity value of seeing Dixit may keep the boxoffice busy for a week or two.

Choreographer Dia (Dixit) returns to her Indian hometown, Shamli, as a divorcee with her young daughter from America. She has responded to an SOS from her dying dance guru, who wants her to save his Ajanta, a sprawling cultural institution about to be demolished to make way for a shopping mall by local businessman Faroukh ("The Namesakes'" Irrfan Khan). By the time Dia arrives, the guru is dead, leaving behind a video recording of his plea.

But Dia's reputation is sullied, as a girl who eloped with her American lover, Steve (Felix D'Alviella), so she finds the going tough. Politician Raja Saheb (Akshaye Khanna) gives her a 60-day ultimatum: Put up a dance show with local, not foreign, talent or let the bulldozers flatten a sacred heritage that made her a great dancer. However, she finds friends like a doctor (Raghubir Yadav), local tough Imran (Kunal Kapoor), teashop owner and her secret admirer Mohan Sharma (Ranvir Shorey) and tomboy Anokhi (Konkana Sen Sharma). Despite everyone's initial reluctance, even hostility, she manages to carry on with her crusade.

The script has too many holes and leaves many questions unanswered. Scenes of jean-clad Dia on a cycle-rickshaw, pedalled by the doctor with a mike calling for artists, or Dia tap-dancing like Fred Astaire border on the absurd. Inspired performances keep things afloat. Dixit is still on top of the acting game, and some dance numbers, wonderfully choreographed by Vaibhavi Merchant, are a feast for the eye. As the tomboy with a running nose, Sharma is marvellous. But it is Khanna and Khan, despite cameo appearances, who are brilliant, bringing ever so subtly the finer nuances of ruthless politics and business into their characters with so much conviction.

Yash Raj Films
Director: Anil Mehta
Writer: Jaideep Sahni
Story by: Aditya Chopra
Producer: Aditya Chopra, Yash Chopra
Executive producer: Aashish Singh
Director of photography: K.U. Mohanan
Music: Salim-Sulaiman
Costume designers: Manish Malhotra, Mandira Shukla, Dolly Ahluwalia Tewari
Editor: Ritesh Soni
Dia: Madhuri Dixit
Anokhi: Konkana Sen Sharma
Imran: Kunal Kapoor
Doctor: Raghubir Yadav
Mohan Sharma: Ranvir Shorey
Faroukh: Irrfan Khan
Raja Saheb: Akshaye Khanna
Steve: Felix D'Alviella
Running time -- 165 minutes
No MPAA rating