Yeh Ballet  Netflix Review – A typical underdog tale laden with umteenth cliches
The new Netflix original ‘Yeh Ballet’ takes us back to the unseen talents from Dharavi. As if Zoya Akhtar’s ‘Gully Boy‘ wasn’t a familiar reminder – director Sooni Taraporevala’s sophomore film takes another stride through the same-old, same-old. In doing so, she manages to tick every single coming of age cliche without leaving any room for emotional connect. Her characters are caricatures – further denied any kind of grounded existence because of a half-baked underdog arc and lackluster writing. The only redeeming quality being retelling a story that gives hope. Hope to a million youngers who never step out of their restrictive lives to dream big.
Having said that, the film does have a sense of place. Since it’s set in Mumbai the two dancers who choose to follow up their capability to stretch their legs like wings, trying to fly away squares right into it’s smaller conflicts. The plot progression, on the other hand, provides no real sense of how great the two dancers are. There are expositions and extension of expositions that apply to both Nishu (Manish Chauhan) and Asif (Achintya Bose). Making their journey from nobodies to dreamers quite unsatisfactory.
Nishu’s life is set around his win of the hat of destiny at a famous dance show. Asif’s set around his daily moves with his friends somewhere near the fishing community. Both have two people who believe in them – Nishu’s sister and Asif’s brother. Their conflicts come from their parents and just to make a little more sense – a bit of religious entitlement. Their teacher is another stereotypical angry foreign import who is a mixture of over-the-top acting and dissociative family complex. I know there’s no other way to tell an underdog tale but I am sure each of these cliches can be grounded in a sense of reality that feels real without feeling flimsy.
The entire coming of age arc is forcefully filled with traditional conflicts that can’t even be dismissed for being too predictable. However, that’s exactly what it is. This is the kind of tale that would make more sense and impact if it was left as it was – a documentary short that pays homage and value to their journies rather than filling it up with bad actors cashing up on their streaming premieres. The only real conflict that Sooni Taraporevala actually dishes out of her rather tired script is the absence of economic leverage hindering their visas. This was the only time I didn’t feel like dismissing this one-dimensional film made out of a paper-thin plot.