It's Akshay Kumar versus Prabhudheva this Friday

Mumbai, Feb 6 (IANS) After Kamal Haasan's bravura kathak in "Vishwaroop", it is time for some serious freestyle western dancing and a heist drama at the box office. "ABCD - AnyBody Can Dance" and "Special 26", releasing Friday, are mainstream entertainers, but those that bend the conventional rules of entertainment.

Choreographer-director Remo D'Souza's "ABCD...", touted to be India's first true-blue dance film, is a dance film with Indian cinema's most celebrated film-based dancer Prabhudheva taking the lead along with a lineup of well-known choreographers pitching as actors.

Last week, we had the diligent Tamil superstar Vikram speaking his own Hindi lines in Bejoy Nambiar's "David". This week, Prabhudheva too speaks his Hindi lines in his own voice.

"It was a real ordeal. Not just for me, but the people who were assigned to get me to speak correctly. But I managed. Let's see how it goes," he said.

Contrary to rumours that he has only a cameo to play in 'ABCD...', Prabhudheva says he has a full-fledged role in the film.

"I am there throughout, and choreographer Ganesh Acharya plays my best friend. It is not just a film that uses the film medium as a pretext for dancing. There is a very emotional story in 'ABCD...'"

Prabhudheva said there are glimpses of his own life in "ABCD..." -- his rise from a chorus dancer to a front-liner to a superstar in his field.

The other release this Friday, "Special 26" is a realistic space for masala superstar Akshay Kumar after the underwhelming performance of his out-and-out potboiler "Khiladi 786". Anupam Kher has gone on record to state that Akshay should be given the National award for his performance in "Special 26".

The caper-heist adventure film recreates a true-life incident in March 1987, where a bunch of conmen posing as CBI officers raided a well-known jewellery store in Mumbai and walked away with loot worth lakhs of rupees.

Director Neeraj Pandey, who earlier made a gritty realistic anti-terror thriller "A Wednesday", stressed on the fact that his film is not a documentary-styled blow-by-blow recreation of the real events, but a fast-paced thriller where the characters are not just many steps ahead of the law, but also a few steps ahead of audiences' expectations.

Pandey's penchant for turning real-life dilemmas into thrillers is perhaps indicative of the direction that mainstream Hindi cinema must take to follow masses into a mature viewing habit.

The film is a major release for the imaginative production company Viacom18 Motion Pictures, who are constantly pushing the envelope in the right direction with films like "Kahaani" and "Inkaar". This time, the banner is pitched against the other big player in the production field UTV Motion Pictures, just as Akshay Kumar is pitched against Prabhudheva.

"How can I be pitched against Akshay? He's such a big star! I am a dancer who's just strayed into acting as an adventure," said Prabhudheva.

Last year, he directed Akshay Kumar in the blockbuster "Rowdy Rathore".

Would Prabhu be as successful in acting as he is at dancing and direction? The last time we saw Prabhudheva in a full-fledged Hindi film was Rajiv Menon's "Sapne" in 1996 opposite Kajol.

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