Million Dollar Arm: Inspirational sports drama

Film: Million
Dollar Arm
Cast: Jon Hamm, Alan Arkin, Aasif Mandvi, Suraj Sharma,Madhur Mittal, Lake Bell, Bill Paxto, Deepesh Solanki, Darshan Jariwala
Craig Gillespie

A year or two ago, Tim Schulz, a former US soccer midfielder, who is now President & CEO, Rush Soccer, USA announced ambitious plans to promote soccer at the grassroots level in India by setting  up Mumbai Rush Soccer (MRS), as the 21st International partner of Rush Soccer, USA.

I couldn’t help thinking of this as I watched this feel good inspirational sports drama based on a book about events that transpired seven years ago when a pair of once successful American baseball sports agents flew into Mumbai looking for underprivileged youth with strong arms and raw talent. Cricket as we all know is a national obsession here.

In America, an Indian American entrepreneur Vivek Ranadive owns the Sacramento Kings   and though few in India are familiar with baseball, J B Bernstein (Jon Hamm of ‘Mad Men’ fame) had noticed cricketing folks who could throw a hundred miles an hour, and figured we ignoramuses could be coached on how to play the baseball.

So Bernstein descended on Mumbai with jaded, cantankerous (Alan Arkin) to kickstart ‘The Million Dollar Arm’, a reality TV competition offering hefty cash prizes and a chance for the winners to sign lucrative contracts with an American major-league team. Was Bernstein overflowing with the milk of human kindness? Nope. It was the lure of lucre.

The two young Indian javelin players from rustic backgrounds Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel (Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal) get trained by legendary pitching coach Tom House (Bill Paxton).

In their free time, they and  the cheery, never say die translator crashed parties where they  ate and drank too much, ogled nubile girls, and threw up but they also transformed the money-minded high-flying singleton Bernstein who joins them in their prayers in the  puja corner in his plush  home, and even starts thinking of marriage and domestic bliss.

Much of the movie addresses the fish-out-of-water culture shock of Indians in the USA and Americans coming to Bharat Desh.

Ronita Torcato

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