Street Dancer 3D manages the impossible – a dance-themed movie that deploys many talented performers but which ends up offering over two hours of terpsichorean tedium.

It’s not enough for director and choreographer Remo D’Souza to set up a contest between Indian and Pakistani dance companies in London. Fully aware that it is difficult, if not impossible, to roll out a 150-minute film consisting solely of dance battles, D’Souza and chief screenplay writer Tushar Hiranandani set aside their dancing shoes and put on their thinking caps. The result is a film with a lot of clever moves but also a whole lot of extra baggage.

The movie is the third in a franchise that started with ABCD in 2013. ABCD starred Prabhudeva and professional dancers who amply compensated for their limited acting skills by putting up a superb show. In 2015 came ABCD 2, which, despite bigger stars, could not replicate the can-do spirit of the first movie. Street Dancer 3D reunites Varun Dhawan and Shraddha Kapoor from ABCD 2, and this time, they are playing different characters.

Dhawan is Sahej, whose ambitions to get the better of Pakistani rival Inayat (Kapoor) leads him to make some questionable decisions before he sees the light just in time for the extended climax. Prabhudeva is back too, in the top-billed role of Prabhu, a sanctimonious and rubber-limbed mentor who pops up at the opportune moment with the appropriate lecture and the correct gesture.

Varun Dhawan is bulkier and slower on his feet than in the previous movie, and he compensates by converting every other scene into a National Film Award tryout. Shraddha Kapoor, stepping into a role originally meant for Katrina Kaif, is supple and energetic as Inayat, whose heart bleeds for the hungry souls who have somehow landed up in London and can barely make ends meet.

Nora Fatehi, previously relegated to item songs, burns up the dance floor but is forgotten once Sehaj’s track gets going. Several professional dancers doubling up as actors show off their skills in the background when permitted. The movie leaps to life only in the last 30 minutes, as various crews twist and twirl their way through the inevitable contest. But to get there, you have to wade through sentimental slush and endure trite humour (the tin-eared dialogue is by Farhad Samji) and endless distractions. It’s called Street Dancer, and it’s even in 3D, so just shut up and dance, no?

Street Dancer 3D (2020).