Indian ballet dancer headlines new documentary unveiled in U.S.

Indian ballet dancer Manish Chauhan doing a high kick at the Sept. 8, 2021, launch of the trailer of a documentary Call Me Dancer,based on his life, at an event held in Washington, D.C. in the Meridian International Center. Photo: courtesy Jingo Media.

Manish Chauhan, an Indian ballet dancer who won a scholarship to be trained at New York Ballet School, is the star in a documentary film, Call Me Dancer, which had its official trailer launch in Washington, D.C. Sept. 8, 2021.

The trailer launch of the documentary film by Leslie Shampaine and Pip Gilmour, was hosted by Meridian International Center in Washington, D.C.

According to a press release from organizers, more than 80 people filled the room to hear Chauhan, the lead protagonist reveal his inspirational story about pursuing the arts professionally despite growing up in the slums. He was accompanied by director Shampaine and Executive Producer Jitin Hingorani as well as moderator/host Rina Shah.

The conversation was followed by an intimate, contemporary dance performance by Chauhan, choreographed by Lucy Bowen McCauley and accompanied on tabla by well-known performer Broto Roy.  Chauhan’s U.S. solo debut will take place at the Kennedy Center on September 14, 2021, which will also be filmed as the climactic end of the documentary (release date January 2022).

Meridian International Center CEO, Ambassador Stuart Holliday, welcomes guests at the Sept. 8, 2021, trailer launch of Call Me Dancer, about an Indian ballet dancer Manish Chauhan, who made it big. Photo: courtesy Jingo Media

“Meridian is committed to highlighting the important ties between the United States and India through meaningful cultural engagements like this Call Me Dancer film discussion and performance,” Terry Harvey, vice president for Meridian’s Center for Cultural Diplomacy, is quoted saying in the press release. “We believe dance is a powerful tool of diplomacy to connect people around the world and facilitate cross-cultural understanding through cultural exchange,” Harvey added.

The dance documentary is aiming for a January 2022 film festival world premiere. It is a production of Zee Entertainment and a co-production of ARTE.

Shailja Kejriwal, Chief Creative Officer, Special Projects, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. (ZEEL) described the documentary as being about “artistic assertion against all odds,” and about “pursuing your dreams, even when reality seems overwhelmingly harsh.”

Renowned singer/songwriter Jay Sean will produce an original song for Call Me Dancer in addition to serving as Executive Producer for the film, the press release said.

Film Synopsis provided: When a hip-hop dancer accidentally walks into a ballet class in Mumbai, his world opens up, and a passion is born. The tough ballet master recognizes his talent and dares him to fulfill his dreams of dancing professionally — giving him the courage to defy family, culture and poverty. The trailer is available on



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