YEH BALLET is a dance full of life
YEH BALLET is uplifting in many ways. It is based on the true story of a bedraggled dance teacher who spots extraordinary talent in two impoverished boys in a dance class in India. A short documentary in 2017 brought this story into focus, and the feature-length story is beautiful, informative, and powerful.
Manish Chauhan (playing a character based on his life, here named Nishu) and Amiruddin Shah (here played by Achintya Bose, and called Asif) are the men who inspired the film, and they both continue to dance professionally.
Yehuda Maor, the dance teacher, is played by Julian Sands as an angry, broken-hearted artist. You may have seen this character before, but Sands makes it terrifying and heartbreaking.
We meet Nishu when he gains notoriety for his raw acrobatic dance on a television show, but his overbearing father does not support his dancing. Asif's brother drags him to dance class to head off his career as a petty criminal.
Both families and their friends' journey in supporting these artists is very gratifying. The fantastic scene in which Nishu dances for sick patients is devastating.
What separates YEH BALLET from other dance films like NAVILLERA (which I loved) and TINY PRETTY THINGS (which I did not love) is that the stars, when given a chance to show off, fly. The edits do not make them look like dancers. They are the real deal.
The cinematography is excellent, capturing the harsh separation of the poor neighborhoods from the high-rise culture surrounding them. Even the beautiful bridge in the opening sequence seems to go out of its way to avoid the poor district. But that is where the youth and spirit of the city explode.
Writer/director Sooni Taraporevala has done an excellent job of capturing the beauty of this poor neighborhood, the hardworking students in the school, and the allure of riches that beckons them to move away. Her excellent creative team delivers a powerful product that is full of joy.