Yeh Ballet Movie Review: A fascinating story made banal
The glee and positivity I felt when watching the story of Amir and Manish as a candid documentary, was clearly missing in the glammed-up, high-budget, fictitious film version
Comparing a feature film to its source material might not be the best thing to do while reviewing it. In the case of Netflix's latest release, Yeh Ballet, it is even more detrimental because the original short film (with the same title), also helmed by Sooni Taraporevala, is so flawless and beautiful. While the short film oozes realism and is filled with people exhibiting admirable naivety, its feature sibling feels shockingly plasticky because it is overloaded with cliches.
Director: Sooni Taraporevala
Cast: Julian Sands, Manish Chauhan and Achintya Bose
Producer: Siddharth Roy Kapur
For starters, Manish Chauhan, who plays a fictitious version of himself, has a heart of gold and doesn't believe in religious differences. This could have been established in loads of different ways but, Sooni chooses trite shots of the hero offering prayers in front of a church, mosque, and a temple. The marriage of fact and fiction feels consistently jerky in the film. While in real life Amiruddin Shah had to practice for years to qualify for a scholarship in an international ballet dance company, Asif, the character inspired by Amir, learns the tricks within months.
This film about dancing also has one of the clumsiest placement of songs. And how disappointing to have only one elaborate ballet performance when the title itself is named after the dance form!
It is extremely enraging to see yet another film presented to an international audience projecting India as a land filled with trash and morons. Excluding a handful of good-hearted characters, almost everyone in the film seems to have evil intentions. I don't know why such a depiction is necessary. I am also left clueless why the visibly kind Yehuda Maor's fictitious role, played by Julian Sands, is written as a repugnant person.
Though first-timers Manish Chauhan and Achintya Bose are highly impressive, it requires a lot of effort to forget the aforementioned issues and enjoy their performances. I liked the way Sasha Shetty's character, Neena, was incorporated into the story and would have loved to see her in more scenes.
Some stories are better told raw. The glee and positivity I felt when watching the story of Amir and Manish as a candid documentary, was clearly missing in the glammed-up, high-budget, fictitious film version. Yeh Ballet would have been a way better film if it was able to recreate at least half the amount of excitement the audience got while watching the boys performing organically without a second thought about camera or script.