- Directed by Leslie Shampaine and Pip Gilmour, “Call Me Dancer” follows Manish Chauhan, who struggles against his parents’ insistence that he follow a traditional path.
Abramorama, a New York-based film distribution and marketing company, has acquired North American theatrical rights for the feature documentary, “Call Me Dancer,” about a young and talented street dancer from Mumbai. According to a report in Variety, “the deal was revealed on the sidelines of TIFFCOM, the film market attached to the Tokyo International Film Festival.”
Directed by Leslie Shampaine and Pip Gilmour, “Call Me Dancer” follows Manish Chauhan, a young and talented street dancer from Mumbai who struggles against his parents’ insistence that he follow a traditional path. When he accidentally walks into an inner-city dance school and encounters curmudgeonly 70-year-old Israeli ballet master Yehuda Maor, a hunger develops within him and he is determined to make it as a professional dancer, but the odds are stacked against him.
Filmmakers have described “Call Me Dancer” as a “heart-warming and uplifting story of struggle and tenacity, family, culture, rebellion, and an unlikely friendship.” It is filmed in India, the United Kingdom, Israel, and the United States.
According to Shampaine, a former professional dancer from New York City, “dance films are typically created by looking into our world from the outside,” and they “convey the difficulty of the profession, but what is often lost is the passion and inner joy that pushes dancers past the pain.” As a former dancer, she knew she could offer “an insider’s sensitivity and perspective.” She “gathered a talented international team of Indian film professionals with insights into the culture and socio-economic reality of Mumbai.” She hopes the story “inspires people across the globe.”
The film is executive produced by international pop icon, singer, and songwriter Jay Sean. The story resonated with the British Indian, as his parents wanted him to pursue medicine rather than pursue his dream of becoming a singer. It features two original songs by him, music by Bangladeshi American hip-hop artist Anik Khan, and a score by British Indian composer Nainita Desai and Nina Humphreys.
Since its world premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in February, the film has won audience awards at the Berkshire International Film Festival, San Francisco Dance Film Festival, Vancouver International Film Festival, Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival, and Tasveer South Asian Film Festival, Seattle. The film has also received the Art of Storytelling Award at the Doc Edge Film Festival, New Zealand; the Youth Jury Award at the DOKUart Festival in Croatia; and at the upcoming 2023 Hamptons Doc Fest, the Art & Inspiration Award.
The film is a co-production with ZDF in association with Arte, produced by Priya Ramasubban, Cynthia Kane, and Shampaine. Executive producers also include John Patrick King, Jitin Hingorani, Ori Z. Soltes, Diana Holtzberg, and Esther van Messel. The film is represented in the U.S. and Canada by East Village Entertainment and in the rest of the world by First Hand Films.