Yeh Ballet's breakout star Achintya Bose talks Step Up movies, hip-hop and playlists
Sooni Taraporevala’s Netflix adaptation of her own 2017 documentary (about two young Mumbai ballet artistes Amiruddin Shah and Manish Chauhan) is getting 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 out 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.
Tell us how you got 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 up 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 had a look similar to mine, which she really liked and suggested I go for the audition, which I did!
Tell us a little about your training and research
It was pretty simple, come for 3 hours and train rigorously, learn up variations, practice them again and again, learn up certain vocabulary and practice them rigorously! I did this for 6 months straight. 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 (obviously, because which dancer has it not happened to). Adam Sevani (who played Moose) has always been a role model in the freestyle genre and has been an inspiration for musicality.
Do you have a favourite dance film?
Where do I start! Grease! Step up! Battle of the year! Dirty dancing! Saturday night fever! Chorus line!! Oh my god!!
How many hours a week do you rehearse?
Well as far as training goes you should be dancing a minimum of 6 hours a day 6 days a week. I generally don’t count my hours! But I can assure you it is definitely more than 6 hours and more than 6 days a week
What does your dance playlist sound like?
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 bears and house music. Then of course there is old school jazz and pop music from artists like Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Paula Abdul, Pussycat Dolls, The Pointer Sisters, The Jacksons!! And then there is Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake of course.