When Anil (Mithun Chakraborty) was a little boy he was very poor, living with his single mother since his father had abandoned them to follow his obsession with music. Anil had an obsession with music as well, and made a small amount of money as a street artist, singing songs and playing a guitar, though troubled times arose when one day he was playing with a girl who he had befriended and her millionaire father came home to find them singing and dancing in the garden, having attracted a crowd. The father, Mr Oberoi (Om Shivpuri) was furious and calling the police, accused the boy of stealing his guitar; nobody would believe Anil's word over this wealthy businessman, his mother took the fall, and a lifetime's grudge was nursed...
Ah, but what of the soothing, energising, invigorating power of disco? That musical movement had been played out across the Western world to an extent by 1982, deemed uncool after its global success in conquering the ears of the world's public, but there remained pockets of resistance to writing off the whole genre. Disco would see itself enjoy a resurgence as it was acknowledged by many that much of this was not purely naff but actually displayed plenty of decent, more than decent, tunes and musicianship that was nothing short of excellent, so don't allow the influence of the novelty records in the format to dominate. However, if you ignored the novelties outright, you would never see this movie.
Disco Dancer, no matter what those opening twenty minutes played out as, was indeed about a dancer (and singer) of disco, which evidently was still popular in India when this was released. It wasn't the only Bollywood disco movie, but it is the one that amassed a minor cult following thanks to how ridiculous it was, a mixture of overextended musical sequences and overheated melodrama with action thriller overtones - it was well over the top, as you can imagine. Anil and his doting mother are forced to leave Bombay by the ignorant neighbours who believe Oberoi's claims that they were lawbreakers, but he's not about to give up his dream of the music industry, and luck plays a part there.
A manager (Om Puri) spots Anil walking along the street and occasionally skipping off the kerb, which is enough to convince him this a goddam disco superstar he's looking at, so signs him up on the spot. As if that was not enough, the manager has ditched an actual superstar, Sam (Karan Razdan), for being too obnoxious - his favourite word is "bastard", so obviously a wrong 'un - and a rivalry erupts, as chance would have it a resonant one since Sam is the son of Oberoi. As Anil is renamed Jimmy and takes to the stage, the initially sceptical audience are quickly won over and love him and his disco moves (lots of pelvic thrusts), and it seems we have India's answer to Saturday Night Fever. However, where that film was rough and ready and crude away from the dancefloor, this was pretty crass on it.
But the crasser it grew, the more entertaining it was, as the film was determined to put Jimmy through the mill. Rubbing salt into Oberoi's wounds is the fact that this upstart is now romancing his daughter Rita (Kim – no surname), who once we re-meet her seems uppity until her heart is melted by what a nice, noble young man Jimmy has turned into. Naturally, these qualities are precisely what the bad guys are offended by, and to prevent Jimmy from winning a disco dancing championship (an international one, natch), they break his legs (this after he had beaten up Oberoi's goons in a Bruce Lee style previously), and then sabotage his guitar - but tragedy arrives when it's not Jimmy but someone else who is electrocuted! This results in a guitar phobia and at those championships Rita dances her way to encourage him to make a comeback, but it is his long lost dad who finally persuades him, no wonder when he turns out to be Asian superstar Rajesh Khanna. And it's not over yet. You can amuse yourself spotting the songs they're ripping off (is that... Video Killed the Radio Star?!), but mostly by how preposterous it was, from start to finish.