NEW DELHI: Suraj Sharma, who played the young man stranded on a raft with the tiger in Ang Lee’s ‘Life of Pi,’ and Madhur Mittal who portrayed Salim in the best Oscar winning movie ‘Slumdog Millionaire,’ along with actor Jon Hamm feature in the new Disney film ‘Million Dollar Arm’ being released this weekend in the United States.
With its release last Friday, ‘Million Dollar Arm’ clashed with the giant ‘Godzilla’ remake distributed by Warner Bros.
The film has been directed by Craig Gillespie from a screenplay written by Tom McCarthy. The film is based on the true story of baseball pitchers Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel who were discovered by sports agent J.B. Bernstein after winning a reality show competition. The film also stars Bill Paxton as pitching coach Tom House, Alan Arkin and Lake Bell. The film's music is composed by A.R. Rahman. The movie is produced by Joe Roth, Mark Ciardi, and Gordon Gray for Walt Disney Pictures.
By the standards of the studio known for big-budget blockbusters, ‘Million Dollar Arm’ is a small film, with a budget of $25 million, a fraction of the $200 million it cost to make the soon-to-be-released ‘Maleficent’ with Angelina Jolie.
But Walt Disney Studios’ executive vice president of film distribution Dave Hollis said, “We believe in great stories, both big and small, that depict values such as courage, ambition, hard work and family. ‘Million Dollar Arm’ is a great story that has those unique human themes throughout.”
‘Million Dollar Arm’ was shot partly in India. Jon Hamm – who played the ‘Mad Men’ character Don Draper - plays sports agent J B Bernstein who in a desperate bid to drum up clients goes to India to find baseball pitchers among the country’s cricket-loving sportsmen. It is a real-life story that warmed hearts over at the Walt Disney Co.
The first part of ‘Million Dollar Arm’ shows a hot and chaotic Mumbai where JB struggles to get his improbable venture off the ground with a reality show. After frustrating rounds of tryouts, the American agent finds two strong arms in Rinku and Dinesh in rural India and brings them to Southern California, where they undergo training before being shown to Major League Baseball scouts.
The young men find themselves struggling with the culture, the lifestyle and, most importantly, the business expectations that JB has from them. His neighbour Brenda, a doctor played by Lake Bell, works to suture the fraying relationship in time to save their chances of making it in American baseball.
Despite working in conditions Hamm termed “remarkably warm and challenging,” the baseball tale with a global twist gave Hamm not only his first lead role in film but one that was decidedly more upbeat than the ad man that made him famous on television.
“I love the fact that it has a family component to it and it has redemption,” said Hamm. “You leave the movie theater with a smile on your face. It’s a nice alternative to my other on-screen persona, who is a little bit darker.”
Bell and Hamm, who are friends in real life, both highlighted one of the great advantages of working on a Disney film: for a change, they can send anyone in their families to see it and not have to worry about uncomfortable scenes. “It is nice to be part of a project that my sister can take her kids to,” said Hamm.
Prior to ‘Million Dollar Arm,’ Hamm played an FBI agent in Ben Affleck’s 2010 crime caper ‘The Town’ and a part as the loathsome lothario in the 2011 women-driven comedy ‘Bridesmaids.’
“I think you can make an argument that I was actually the star of ‘Bridesmaids,’” he joked.
As he films the final episodes of ‘Mad Men’ to air next year on the AMC cable network, Hamm said he has no road map for his career post-Don Draper, although ‘Million Dollar Arm’ fit perfectly into his loose plan.
The movie stars actors Suraj Sharma of ‘Life of Pi’ fame and Madhur Mittal of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.
“I just want to work on things I find interesting in some way and this is a perfect example of something I find interesting,” said Hamm, who happens to be a big baseball fan.