Million Dollar Arm Shot In India
The Hollywood flick has been shot at exotic locales in India, including Udaipur, Agra and Lucknow
The shootings for Million Dollar Arm, starring Jon Hamm at various locations in India, have been over. The unit
of the film directed by Craig Gillespie has returned to US, where the remaining shootings are being done in Atlanta. The unit will then move to Georgia and Los Angles for further shootings.
In India, the shootings were held in Mumbai, Udaipur, Agra and Lucknow with all the leading stars featuring in various scenes. The movie is being produced by Mark Ciardi and Gordon Gray through their Mayhem Pictures, and by Joe Roth, under Roth Films banner, with Palak Patel and Kevin Halloran serving as executive producers.
Tom McCarthy has written the screenplay. The film also stars Bill Paxton, Lake Bell, Suraj Sharma of Life of Pi fame, Aasif Mandvi, Madhur Mittal of Slumdog Millionaire fame, Pitobash and Academy Award winner Alan Arkin.
AR Rahman is composing the music. Based on a true story, Disney’s Million Dollar Arm follows JB Bernstein, once a successful sports agent who now finds himself edged out by bigger, slicker competitors. He and his partner Aash (Aasif Mandvi) will have to close their business down for good if JB doesn’t come up with something fast. Late one night, while watching cricket being played in India on TV, JB comes up with an idea so radical it just might work. Why not go to there and find the next baseball pitching sensation? Setting off for Mumbai with nothing but a gifted and cantankerous scout (Alan Arkin) in tow, JB stages a televised, nationwide competition called Million Dollar Arm, where 40,000 hopefuls compete before two 18-year-old finalists, Rinku and Dinesh (played by Suraj Sharma and Madhur Mittal), emerge as winners. JB brings them back to the United States to train with legendary pitching coach Tom House (Bill Paxton).
Not only is the game itself difficult to master, but life in the US with a committed bachelor makes things even more complicated for all of them. While Rinku and Dinesh learn the finer points of baseball and American culture, they in turn teach JB the true meaning of teamwork and commitment. Ultimately, what began as a purely commercial venture becomes something more and leads JB to find the one thing he was never looking for.
The film is based on the true story of JB Bernstein, an American sports agent who discovered pro-pitchers Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, through a reality TV series, The Million Dollar Arm, he staged in India. Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel are from Lucknow and both of them were javeline throwers who competed in the TV show.
In baseball, pitching (the equivalent of bowling) requires the least amount of strategic thought, the catcher (or wicketkeeper) tells the pitcher what to do. The pitcher has to just throw to that predetermined spot. That’s one of the reasons the promoters of the show looked for pitchers- all cricketers know how to throw with a bent arm from the deep end of the field.
The producing team of Mark Ciardi and Gordon Gray, producers of such notable sports movies as Secretariat, Miracle and The Rookie, joins forces with veteran producer Joe Roth to bring Disney’s Million Dollar Arm to the screen.
Director Craig Gillespie gained widespread recognition with the critically acclaimed Lars and the Real Girl, Golden Globe winner Jon Hamm is perhaps best-known for his nuanced portrayal of high-powered, philandering advertising executive Don Draper on AMC’s award-winning drama series Mad Men.
Alan Arkin, one of the most respected artists of the stage and screen, won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the 2006 hit Little Miss Sunshine.
Suraj Sharma won acclaim for his portrayal of Pi Patel in Ang Lee’s acclaimed movie Life of Pi. With no previous experience, Lee cast Sharma for the role of Pi, following an extensive, months-long search throughout India. For his work in Life of Pi. Sharma earned a Critics’ Choice nomination for Best Young Actor, an Empire Award nomination for Best Male Newcomer and won the Sierra Youth in Film Award from the Las Vegas Film Critics.
Aasif Mandvi, well-known as a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, is an accomplished actor who will next be seen in The Internship, starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. Recent films include Premium Rush, Ruby Sparks and Margin Call.
Madhur Mittal is best known for his performance as Salim in the acclaimed film Slumdog Millionaire, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture of 2008 and for which he won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.
Pitobash is a Hindi film actor known for his roles in I Am Kalam, Shor in the City and Shanghai. At the age of 12, Pitobash was honored with the National Balshree Award by the President of India in the field of creative performance. He later went on to join Bollywood as an actor.
He may be the subject of a Hollywood movie, but Dinesh Patel, 24, has his feet firmly on the ground. The movie Million Dollar Arm, a sports drama about Patel and his friend Rinku Singh who won a contest and subsequently won a place in a minor league baseball team. Life of Pi star Suraj Sharma plays Rinku and Madhur Mittal who featured in Slumdog Millionaire reprises Patel’s. The shooting for the movie which also features Mad Men’s Jon Hamm was held at Lucknow with Patel training Sharma and Mittal.
Patel’s remarkable story undoubtedly was made for the big screen. Hailing from Khanpur village in Varanasi, Patel joined Guru Gobind Singh Sports College, Lucknow in 2004 and started training as a javelin thrower. On the insistence of his athletics coach JS Bhatia, Dinesh and another javelin thrower from the college, Rinku Singh took part in the Million Dollar Arm contest in 2008 meant to select an individual who could throw a baseball fastest and most accurately.
Beating nearly 37,000 participants, Rinku emerged winner while Dinesh was adjudged runner-up. Thereafter, after training in Los Angeles, both Rinku and runner-up Dinesh were later signed up by Pittsburgh Pirates. Dinesh returned to India in 2010, but he has fond memories of his stay in the United States.
Both Dinesh and Deepesh Solanki, a scout with Million Dollar Arm feel that that the movie will increase awareness of India’s sports potential.
“Though somebody else is playing our roles, it gives me joy to see that something is being done for us and the world will again come to know about our story through the movie. I had a talk with Rinku (who is in Florida) a few days back,” says Dinesh.
By Prakash Bhandari