Occupation: Manish Chauhan, Achintya Bose, Amiruddin Shah, Vijay Maurya and Kalyanee Mulay
Director: Sooni Taraporevala
Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
Written and directed by Sooni Taraporevala, Yeh ballet is a dance film that is underpinned by consistent writing and technical solidity. But it wouldn't be half of the movie without the two leading actors – ballet dancer Manish Chauhan (playing a fictional avatar of himself) and newcomer Achintya Bose (in the role of Amir Shah, a slum boy who won the Royal Ballet School) Nadia Nerina scholarship 2017).
Yeh ballet, an original Netflix film, is Taraporevala's first story since her directorial debut in 2008, Little Zizouand the second project by Siddharth Roy Kapurs production banner (after that The sky is pink).
The film pirouettes two exceptionally nimble workers from Mumbai who go beyond the negativity of their humble lives when an irritated ballet master takes them under his wing and helps them realize their dream.
Minimalism and exuberance coexist in ballet. The earlier variety is not Bollywood's strength. The latter is in line with the broader attributes of popular Hindi cinema. But this film conjures up its own unique kind of magic. It artfully orchestrates the tools and components that are available to it. Taraporevala modulates tone and texture with skillful touches.
Just one point of contention: the dirt of the world in which the protagonists live is glossed over. But the tenacity of the boys – it is the backbone of the film – is not. The script harmonizes formal sparseness with youthful vigor. It fills a thin plot with subtle drama. The highlights are the crucial family confrontations and reconciliations that stop or drive the heroes.
The story arc (grueling poverty, impossible dreams, discouraging opportunities, firm determination, rousing finale and eventual triumph) has no surprises in store. However, wise use of the limited action points makes it easier for an uplifting entertainer, where both the process and the output are evidence of an infallible eye for details.
Yeh Balle is inspired by a "true story" that was the subject of Taraporevala's VR documentary filmed for Memesys Culture Lab in 2017. The fiction extends the life of Nishu (Chauhan) and Asif Beg (Bose), a teenager with 20 something.
Chauhan and Bose result in a wonderfully energetic duet that is characterized by extravagance and self-confidence. Both are characterized by sharp intelligence and a sense of awareness of the script's requirements.
Before they know it, the two boys are up to something that promises to change their lives forever. Under the watchful eye of Saul Aaron (English actor Julian Sands, who plays an approach to Mumbai-based ballet teacher Yehuda Ma & # 39; Or), they negotiate many pitfalls and setbacks, not least how difficult it is for impoverished boys without Bank account to obtain a visa to attend an American ballet school.
The sedated Nishu and the playful Asif are poles apart. They start on the wrong foot, worried and even contemptuous of each other. But when their dreams come together, they begin to connect and urge each other to excel.
This is not a particularly steep climb for Taraporevala, author of memorable films like Salaam Bombay!. Mississippi Masala and The namesake, She keeps the script simple, although the struggle between Nishu and Asif has multiple levels. They threaten to block class and religious differences, as well as the distrust and disapproval of their parents.
Nishu is the only son of a taxi driver. Asif's family lives in a humble metal welding shop. Nishu goes to college and his parents (Vijay Maurya, who wrote the film's Hindi dialogue, and Kalyanee Mulay) hope that one day he'll get a decent job and change the family's fortune.
The more rebellious of the two, the younger Asif, works with his wild drifter friends for a local gangster when he's not a B-boy. His older brother, a pizza delivery boy, advises him of Saul's arrival in the city. Asif reluctantly enrolls in the Mumbai Dance Academy.
One of his friends who flees the police dies. Asif is gutted. He cuts off his unruly hair, puts on shorts, slips on a pair of ballet shoes and decides to give a new life a chance.
An uncle warns Asif's father (Danish Husain) and mother (Heeba Shah) that dance & # 39; haraam & # 39; is. In order to intensify his suffering, the boy develops feelings for a girl (Mekhola Bose) who shares his passion for dance. Asif's growing closeness is causing difficulties. He is Muslim, she is Hindu.
Asif has to face another important problem: the language. His chatter is only at street level. He doesn't speak a word of English. Everything he says has to be translated for Saul. And every line Saul speaks is incomprehensible to him. Ironically, it is this language barrier that helps Asif approach Nishu, who knows enough English to communicate with Saul.
Nishu also faces inevitable obstacles when he befriends an academy student, Neena (Sasha Shetty), who offers to learn the intricacies of ballet. The two have nothing in common other than their love of dance form. Nishu sleeps in the sultry, mosquito-infested basement under the dance hall. Neena has a private dance studio at home. The distance between him and her is almost insurmountable.
"The only escape is dance," Saul says to the two boys as the challenges increase. "If everyone were dancing, the world wouldn't be so crazy." Unfortunately, not everyone dances and the world is as crazy as hell, which makes the task of Nishu and Asif all the more difficult.
No dance form is as beautiful as ballet, Neena says to Nishu, who at first does not know that the "t" in the word is silent. "It's like flying like an angel in a beautiful dream," she says when she shows Nishu a video of a ballet performance on her cell phone. Anyone who has mastered ballet has reached the top of Mount Everest, says Nisha. "I will go to the summit," replies Nishu.
As a metaphor, flying is an integral part of Yeh ballet, It is displayed in the visual design as well as in the dialog and in the action. The film begins with an aerial view of Mumbai, with a camera gliding over the Bandra-Worli lake connection, gently hovering over the skyline and finally settling on an opening in a fishermen's slum where Asif and his friends dance with unbridled devotion. The cemented plaster is intended for drying fish. The boys will be scared away soon.
When Yeh ballet ends, the trajectory is exactly the opposite. A passenger plane takes off into the night sky and the camera looks out as the plane gains altitude, offering a view of the bright, glittering lights of Mumbai.
While Sands, Chauhan and Bose lead the cast with impressive serenity, the supporting actors are just as good. Sasha Shetty, a talented dancer, serves Chauhan as an ideal slide. The casual Mekhola Bose, a real phenomenon where drummers became waacking, is great. Jim Sarbh as the head of the Wisecracking Dance Academy makes an impression, although the role is nothing more than an expanded cameo.
The craftsmanship on display is of the highest quality. The main technicians – cameraman Kartik Vijay, editor Antara Lahiri, sound designer Udit Duseja and production designer Shailaja Sharma – pull their weight without slipping.
Yeh ballet captures the beauty of a dance form while demonstrating the power of solid, soulful storytelling.
(Yeh Ballet Streams on Netflix February 21)