TL;DR – a fun film about finding your place in the world through a talent you never knew you had
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
We continue our look at Indian cinema this week with an interesting film that has recently arrived on Netflix. It is a film that charts the highs and lows of two kids finding a new outcome for their lives. Also, it is kind of cool that it is all based on a true story.
So to set the scene, we open in on the Mumbai slums as Asif (Achintya Bose) competes in a festival of people stacking on top of each other to get the prize hanging above. Elsewhere Nishu (Manish Chauhan) has made it onto the TV and while his raw talent is impressive, his lack of skill lets him down. Both of the boys have a trajectory of where their lives are headed and neither of them is happy with where it is going. All of this changes when a local talent scout and dance studio owner (Jim Sarbh) brings over the cantankerous Saul Aaron (Julian Sands) to coach his students in ballet and he sees something brilliant in the two boys from the slums.
One thing I was really impressed with was the dancing itself. It is clear that both of the leads had put in a lot of work to make it work on camera because I don’t think they are cheating it here with face replacement. Indeed this is where the film really shines when it finally gets going because the athleticism and talent is a joy to watch. Also, it means you get to play ‘where are they hiding the camera’ in the scenes in the dance studio with all those mirrors. This is both Achintya Bose and Manish Chauhan’s first film and while you can kind of tell that in some of the dialogue scenes, the amount of passion and professionality they bring to the screen shows that this will be not their last.
This is a slow burn for a film with regards to its narrative, indeed it takes a full 40 minutes before everything gets into place and starts powering on. I didn’t mind that as much as normal because there is a clear passion here that you want to see come to fruition. As well as this, the sheer chaotic energy of Julian Sands when he arrives is a true delight to watch. There is a scene with a car alarm that anyone being kept up by an alarm could appreciate. You will also see it hit a couple of those key dance film moments, like the disapproving parents that come around, but in a different context which was good to see.
While I did really enjoy the film, there were a couple of things that did really draw me out of the narrative at times. To start with, on the whole, it was great to see the film really look at the role of class and how that shapes the world. However, there were times when it felt like the film was using poverty not as an integral part of the film but more as window dressing. It also feels a bit padded in places, most notably in the love interest storylines that down really serve any purpose other than making sure that they have love interests. Finally, while I know this is odd to say about a Bollywood film, but there were a couple of song sequences in the film that just ground the story to a halt and didn’t add anything.
In the end, do we recommend Yeh Ballet? Yes, yes we would. Is it a perfect film, well no, it does have its problems. However, I found it to be incredibly engaging and honestly a delight to watch.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Yeh Ballet
Directed by – Sooni Taraporevala
Written by – Sooni Taraporevala
Music by –Vijay Maurya
Cinematography by – Kortik Vijay
Edited by – Antara Lahiri
Production/Distribution Companies – Netflix India & Roy Kapur Films
Starring – Achintya Bose, Manish Chauhan, Julian Sands, Jim Sarbh, Sasha Shetty, Mikhail Yawalkar, Danish Husain, Heeba Shah, Vijay Maurya, Kalyani Mulay, Mekhola Bose, Nizamuddin Shah, Purva Bharve, Jeevan Karalkar, Mukynd Pal, Boman Irani, Sarah-Jane Dias & Rahul Khanna
Rating – Australia: M