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Sooni Taraporevala’s Netflix film, Yeh Ballet, based on VR documentary of the same name

March 3rd, 2020 | by vBollywood Author
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Sooni Taraporevala’s Netflix film, Yeh Ballet, based on VR documentary of the same name
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Sooni Taraporevala, the writer of the Oscar-nominated Salaam Bombay! says she loves Mumbai. Her latest Netflix directorial, Yeh Ballet, based on the VR documentary of the same name helmed by her three years ago was also based in her beloved city.

“Though years have rolled on, certain parts of Mumbai remain the same. They look just as they did during my childhood. I really wish they remain unchanged in the future too,” she says.

Sooni feels Bollywood is now getting the portrayal of the city accurately, with films like Gully Boy doing well. Earlier only gangster films would be made in Mumbai.

“Mumbai has amazing diversity, and yet, you find unity everywhere. There is a reason why my lead Manish Chauhan and his father’s character in the film, offer prayers in a chapel, mosque and temple before entering their house. This is the true face of the city. People here are majorly welcoming and loving,” she says. Quizzed about the inclusion of the Hindu and Muslim extremism angle in the film, she answers, “Well, that is just two or three scenes out of 152. It is a minor part. The extremists aren’t the main characters. I just placed them to touch upon these topics.”

Yeh Ballet is a fictionalised story based on the real-life of two Mumbai boys Manish Chauhan and Amiruddin Shah, who got a free scholarship to international ballet schools because of their outstanding talent.

When asked about fact and fiction, and how she manages to create the balance right, she says, “I’ve always found myself drawn towards real-life stories. Most stories I write turn out to be based on real incidents. Salaam Bombay too was based on a true story. I researched a lot, added my imagination to the story, gave it a film screenplay format with an opening, middle point and climax. I make sure that all characters have an arc.”

She had made it as a documentary and then as a film. She added: “The first step in converting a documentary to a feature film is adding relatable emotions to the script. The viewers feel invested only when there is drama going on,” she says. Sooni adds that the life of the two kids already had a lot of drama going on.

“Manish had to step out of his home to pursue dancing. He slept in the storage area of the dance class, swept the floors over there to earn money and bathed using processed AC water almost every day. This story inherently has all the vital emotions to keep the audience hooked to the screens. I only had to finetune it as a story and fit it within a format to reach a wider audience.”

Yehuda Maor, the ballet master in the real story was a calm and composed man, compared to Julian Sands’ Saul Aaron (a fictitious version of Yehuda). He is also seen talking about being in India, before the final changeover in the climax. When asked if that would affect the way the outsiders perceive India, she refuses.

“I don’t see it that way. The meltdown episodes of Julian are supposed to be a joke on the character itself and not on our country. I placed it in the script only for comic relief. But in the end, he chooses to stay back in India, even after the boys leave to the US. That’s the kind of influence our country has on foreigners.”

Photo courtesy: www.newindianexpress.com/entertainment

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