Hollywood film 'Million Dollar Arm' to be shot in India

By Radhika Bhirani, New Delhi, March 26 : Hollywood film "Million Dollar Arm", about two Indians who get to play baseball in the US thanks to agent J.B. Bernstein's unconventional recruitment strategy to lure talented cricket players, will be shot in three Indian cities.

The film stars "Mad Men" actor Jon Hamm and is in pre-production stage.

"We'll be shooting in Mumbai, Agra and Delhi. Very exciting," Palak Patel, the movie's executive producer, told IANS in an email interview from Los Angeles.

Patel, who is originally from Ahmedabad, said he would visit the country in April to film the Disney movie based on the real-life story.

The India connect of the movie goes beyond just the locations, of course. It focusses on two Indian youngsters - Rinku Singh and Dinesh Kumar - who created history in 2008 when they were signed up by prestigious baseball team Pittsburgh Pirates as professional players. The two won the deal after winning the "Million Dollar Arm" contest held in India, in which more than 30,000 Indian youths were said to have participated.

The film is being directed by Craig Gillespie, with screenplay by Thomas McCarthy.

Patel, who has been in the US since 1983, is also keen to tell more Indian stories to western audiences.

"I've always thought about bringing the Ramayana or the Mahabharata to western
audiences, and doing it in a contemporary way. I've even had conversations with Shekhar Kapur about it," he said.

He believes the mythological epics have global appeal.

"They are amazing stories, on the level of Greek mythology, the heartbeat of India, and I have always thought about bringing them to life worldwide on a big budget level," he added.

Having worked on fantasy films like "Snow White and the Huntsman" and "Oz the Great and Powerful", Patel said the underlying effort behind all genres of movies is "entertainment".

"We can't forget that we work in the entertainment business. It's our job to make a product that entertains the world - we love escapism - we love building worlds, finding interesting exotic colourful characters, and taking old existing properties such as 'Alice In Wonderland' and now 'Oz...', and introducing them with modern technology to a new younger generation.

"Ultimately, we thrive on finding stories and worlds that offer the ultimate escapism," he said.

Sam Raimi-directed "Oz the Great and Powerful" hit Indian screens earlier this month.

Some described it as a prequel to the 1939 film, "The Wizard of Oz". What were
some of the factors you had to keep in mind to match that era and feel, as well as maintain a contemporary touch to appeal to today's audience?

"We wanted to stay as true as possible to the spirit of L. Frank Baum's books, in terms of descriptions, colour palettes, atmosphere, and environments as well as the colourful characters you meet in the film.

"Adding a contemporary touch really came from our director Sam Raimi. Sam has a talent
for staying true to the period while making contemporary audiences identify with the characters, themes, and storylines," said Patel.

He believes classics like "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz", originally written over a century ago, still resonate with today's audience because of the "central theme".

"The central theme is 'goodness is more important than greatness'. Being a good person is far more important and selfless than being a great person, which involves being selfish. I think it's a timeless theme," he said.

(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at radhika.b@ians.in)

--IANS (Posted on 26-03-2013)

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