Film Review: Yeh Ballet

Your dreams don’t know where you come from, says Yeh Ballet – a 2020 Netflix film.

Written and directed by Sooni Taraporevala, Yeh Ballet is based on the real-life stories of two dancers—Amiruddin Shah and Manish Chauhan—who dance their way to global fame with the help of their Israeli-American ballet teacher, Yehuda Maor.

Their characters are named Asif, Nishu and Saul Aron in the movie Yeh Ballet.

Yeh Ballet
Sooni Taraporevala had earlier made a virtual reality documentary with the same name and on the same theme in 2018.

The film is a fictionalised take on the struggles of the two ballet dancers played by Achintya Bose and Manish Chauhan.

English actor Julian Sands plays their teacher, Saul Aron, and Mekhola Bose and Sasha Shetty play the strong and independent characters of Asha and Neena.

They’re both extremely talented dancers but their stories remain a mystery to the audience.

Interesting things about Yeh Ballet

  • Manish Chauhan plays himself in the movie.
  • Manish, Aamir and Achintya have all been associated with Ashley Lobo’s The Danceworx Studio in Mumbai, the place where their talents were discovered.

What makes Yeh Ballet different

Unlike most of the recent Bollywood movies based on dance, Yeh Ballet isn’t jargoned with unnecessary glamour and drama.

It makes the audience feel the beats that throb and thrive in slums.

It portrays the struggles of the male ballet dancers in a society drenched in prejudices but doesn’t limit it to just that.

The film highlights the challenges that underprivileged artists face with respect to limitations of language, resources and support from families.

It also brings to light the otherwise invisible struggles of an artist’s feeling of non-belongingness to a particular space and the flush of emotions that seep in—jealousy, sympathy, self-criticism—along with the other more visible forms of dominating biases of class, caste, gender and religion.

The two ballet boys dance their way out through all these struggles and fly away abroad for their further training.

Audience Wanted More

A little more build-up around the process of the boys’ families changing their minds about their desire to dance, would have made the sudden transition seem smoother.

Yeh Ballet
Two gifted dancers: Achintya Bose and Manish Chauhan.

The Israeli-American ballet master puts in his sweat and blood to carve out the best in the boys, but the audience don’t get to see the master performing a single step throughout the 117 minutes of the film.

Final Statement: Yeh Ballet reassures hope but also reminds us that nothing comes easy. The end of the film is just another beginning of the boys’ lives.

Updated With Director’s Note

Sooni Taraporevala

Thanks so much! Very happy you enjoyed Yeh Ballet & many thanks for the wonderful review. (Also many ballet teachers especially after they reach a certain age don’t dance or demonstrate themselves.) – Sooni Taraporevala