February 18, 2020 8:25:47 pm
Salaam Bombay and The Namesake writer Sooni Taraporevala’s directorial Yeh Ballet follows two dancers from Mumbai slums trying to make a mark in the “elite” genre of ballet, and the director says this contrast makes the film special.
The film is based on the story of Amiruddin Shah and Manish Chauhan and charts their journey as they travel across the globe training at reputed institutions like London’s Royal Ballet Academy and Oregan Ballet Theatre in the US.
Prior to establishing themselves in international circuit, Amiruddin and Manish trained under Israeli-American mentor Yehuda Maor.
“I didn’t want to tell a slum story. They are from economically challenged background, but they don’t like being called slum boys. The focus was not on slums but on these two boys trying to make a mark in a field that is far away from their experiences.
“Ballet is a niche kind of dance form in India, it is very elite and boys don’t pursue it at all. For these boys, who have never heard Classical music to have progressed in two years to such an extent that one of them is now in Royal Ballet on a full scholarship, that’s the achievement,” Sooni told PTI in an interview here.
She said Yeh Ballet shows talent has no boundaries if given aright opportunity to shine.
“It shows how much talent is there in this country, given the right opportunity, given that somebody recognises and nurtures that talent. Unfortunately in this country a lot of talent goes waste, it is not recognised and nurtured. In this particular instance it was helped and what wonderful result came out.”
The film features Manish reprising his own part and Achintya Bose as Amir. Sooni said they also wanted Amiruddin on board, but he couldn’t join the project as he is currently training in Royal Ballet.
“Amir’s focus should be on that and not on a film. Achintya is really good at it, he is going to be a star. Manish is very happy. He relived it.”
Produced by Roy Kapur Films, Yeh Ballet will be out on Netflix on February 21.
Sooni has explored this inspiring story earlier for her first virtual reality film, which was backed by Anand Gandhi.
“The short film which I made is the same with Anand Gandhi. My son was working with Anand because he wanted to do virtual reality and they were encouraging directors to explore virtual reality and they asked me if I want to do a short film. I was up for it.
“They gave me a list of subjects and this was one of them. I had learnt ballet as a kid so I know the world. I was totally intrigued about the story. When I first saw the boys, I had tears in my eyes. That’s how the story happened,” she said.
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