NEW DELHI: Sooni Taraporevala’s Netflix adaptation of her own 2017 documentary – about two young Mumbai ballet artistes Amiruddin Shah and Manish Chauhan – is gaining a lot of attention. “The best part is I have gotten messages from people in Mexico, about how this movie ignited something in them, made them follow their passion,” says Achintya Bose, who plays the role of a young breakdancer named Asif in the film. Bose, who started as a hip-hop dancer, trained in the same academy as Amiruddin and Manish, and we got the performer to tell us about his trajectory so far.
How did you bag Asif’s role in Yeh Ballet?
My formal training happened at The Danceworx Performing Arts Academy, which has an annual showcase for the students. Yehuda (Yehuda Maor, Chauhan’s real-life instructor) came to me before one of the shows and informed me that a filmmaker (Sooni) was coming to watch me. And that I better not embarrass him! Post the show, Sooni said that Amir looked similar to me, which she liked, and suggested I go for the audition, which I did!
Tell us a about your training and research.
It was pretty simple – come in for three hours and train rigorously, learn up variations, practice them again and again, learn up a certain vocabulary and practice them rigorously! I did this for six months straight. The research included class videos from the royal ballet, variations by Daniil Simkin, watching power moves by Stephen McRae, and watching videos after videos of vocabulary and making notes.
Tell us a little about your foundational influences.
My foundations were based on the work of Michael Jackson. I remember requesting my mom to buy me his movie Moonwalker, from which I kind of learnt parts of the Smooth Criminal routine! And that was just one of the very few. This was 2009 or so... later on, Step Up happened. Adam Sevani (who played Moose) has always been a role model in the freestyle genre.
Do you have a favourite dance film?
Where do I start? Grease. Step Up. Battle of the Year. Dirty Dancing. Saturday Night Fever. A Chorus Line. Oh my god!
How many hours a week do you rehearse?
As far as training goes, you should be dancing a minimum of six hours a day, six days a
week. I generally don’t count my hours! But I can assure you, it is more than the minimum.
What does your dance playlist comprise?
My dance playlist is very confusing and has stuff from all over the place! It has soft lyrical stuff, super hypnotic raps by Eminem to Afro beats and house music. Then, of course, there is old-school jazz and pop music from Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Paula Abdul, Pussycat Dolls, The Pointer Sisters, The Jackson Five. And then there is Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake, of course.