Film review: Great storytelling makes for fascinating watch in Netflix’s ‘Yeh Ballet’

“Yeh Ballet” is no rags-to-riches story, but one of sheer fortitude and a bit of luck. (Supplied)
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Updated 24 February 2020

Film review: Great storytelling makes for fascinating watch in Netflix’s ‘Yeh Ballet’

CHENNAI: Sooni Taraporevala gained immense fame by writing for Mira Nair’s films, such as “The Namesake,” “Mississippi Masala” and the Oscar-nominated “Salaam Bombay.” In 2009, Taraporevala stepped behind the camera to helm a small movie called “Little Zizou” about the Parsi community. It was a hit, and three years ago, she took up the camera again to create a virtual reality short documentary about two boys from Mumbai’s slums who became renowned ballet dancers. 

Taraporevala converted her documentary into a full-length feature, “Yeh Ballet,” for Netflix, and the work, though with a somewhat documentary feel, is fascinating storytelling — a talent we have seen in her writings for Nair. 

Happily, “Yeh Ballet” is no rags-to-riches story (of the kind “Gully Boy” was), but one of sheer fortitude and a bit of luck. The film begins with a breathtaking aerial shot of the Arabian Ocean on whose shores Mumbai stands — an element that points toward the director’s background as a photographer. 




The film chronicles the lives of Nishu and Asif Beg. (Supplied) 

A story inspired by true events, “Yeh Ballet” chronicles the lives of Nishu (Manish Chauhan) and Asif Beg (newcomer Achintya Bose). The two lads are spotted by a ballet master, Saul Aaron (British actor Julian Sands) who, driven away from America because of his religion, lands in a Mumbai dance school.

Nishu and Asif, despite their nimble-footed ballet steps, find their paths paved with the hardest of obstacles. When foreign scholarships from famous ballet academies come calling, they cannot get a visa because they have no bank accounts. And while Asif’s father, dictated by his religion, is dead against the boy’s music and dancing, Nishu’s dad, a taxi driver, feels that his son’s passion is a waste of time and energy.

Well, all this ends well — as we could have guessed — but solid writing and imaginative editing along with Ankur Tewari’s curated music and the original score by Salvage Audio Collective turn “Yeh Ballet” into a gripping tale. It is not an easy task to transform a documentary into fiction, but Taraporevala does it with great ease. Or so it appears. Of course, the two protagonists add more than a silver lining to a movie that will be long remembered — the way we still mull over “Salaam Bombay” or “The Namesake.” But what I missed was a bit more ballet; the two guys are just wonderful to watch as they fly through the air. 


Bella Hadid lands Michael Kors fashion campaign

Updated 23 September 2020

Bella Hadid lands Michael Kors fashion campaign

DUBAI: The fashion campaigns just keep rolling in for Bella Hadid. The part-Palestinian model was selected to star in the new Michael Kors fall 2020 ad campaign, which was shot by Swedish photographer Mikael Jansson. 

Appearing alongside models Luke Maehlmann and Kendall Harrison, the half-Dutch catwalker looks the part of a rock star on tour wearing bohemian designs, oversized felt hats, patchwork prints, yellow-tinted aviator sunglasses and leather handbags.

“The campaign channels the ultimate in rock star glamour,” said Michael Kors in a release. “The laid-back cool, the attitude and the star power.”

For Hadid, who has been an ambassador for Michael Kors since 2018 and featured in the brand’s spring 2019, holiday 2019 and spring 2020 ready-to-wear campaigns, working with the American house is familiar territory.

The 23-year-old has long been a muse for the American label and has also walked for the brand during New York Fashion Week.

The designer announced in June that he has opted out of New York Fashion Week’s fall edition this year in favor of a presentation in either October or November. Whether or not the new campaign can be taken as a barometer of the label’s forthcoming spring 2021 collection, something tells us that house favorite, Bella, could be involved. 

Indeed, the younger sister of Gigi Hadid hasn’t let the global health pandemic slow her down. In fact, she’s been as busy as ever, in spite of the restrictions brought about by the coronavirus.

In addition to her latest work with Michael Kors, the California-bred model also recently appeared in a beauty campaign for Dior as well as British heritage house Burberry’s Pocket Bag campaign.

Hadid also featured in an ad for fine jewelry label Bulgari, shot by Brooklyn-based photographer Tyler Mitchell.

And fashion lovers may recall that back in June, Hadid and Hailey Baldwin Bieber were spotted tanning on a yacht in Sardinia during lockdown.

As it turns out Bieber and Hadid, who were recently revealed as the faces of Versace’s Dylan Turquoise and Dylan Blue women’s fragrances, respectively, were shooting new-season campaigns for the Italian house. 

The part-Arab catwalker was also the star of Calvin Klein’s spring 2020 campaign for its CK Swim range, alongside Italian-Moroccan model Malika El-Maslouhi.