It’s a home run! | Daily News
Million Dollar Arm

It’s a home run!

Hollywood is trying a new pitch altogether in trying to cash on India’s love for cricket and tying it with their own sports passion: baseball. Based on the true story of the first two Indians ever signed to a major league baseball team, Craig Gillespie’s biographical sports drama film ‘Million Dollar Arm’ pulls at your heartstrings.

J.B. Bernstein is just another fish in the sea of sports agents who tries frantically to save his business by getting big names into his company. After putting on his thinking cap he comes up with a brainstorm. The Indian cricketers who hurl balls at the wicket look like they can be trained to take up America’s national pastime.

Bernstein pitches a billionaire sponsor on the idea of cracking the Indian market. He ties this notion with the reality television technique and comes up with two prospects. Enter Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel.

Despite being given only a year to find and develop his discoveries Bernstein takes on the challenge much to his partner, Ash Vasudevan’s, astonishment. USC coach Tom House is roped into to train the duo. Would the ploy turn out to be a success after all or will the whole project go up in smoke?

The movie also offers some comic incidents which are genuinely funny. One such incident is when Bernstein is forced to abandon a meeting with Popo Vanuatu and take the three Indian boys home because they have been ruffling feathers at the party.

On the down side the movie is a typical Disney product. It is about family, faith and self-improvement.

Slapstick kind of humour too is used in the production. The stunned and baffled expressions the Indian wear during their first visit to the US is a cliché which has been used and reused in films so many times that it has become quite tiresome.

One such classical example is when Amit explains the candles, icons and incense to Bernstein.

“That’s our shrine, Mr. J.B., sir. Where do you pray, Mr. J.B., sir?” he asks with a serious expression.

Also unbelievable is the scene in which Bernstein returns home to find that his protégés have cooked an India-themed potluck dinner with the express purpose of uniting him romantically with a sari-bedecked Brenda.

Jon Hamm plays Bernstein’s role too uptight at the beginning to make him seem real. Even when he seems to be on the brink of disaster Bernstein does not seem to flinch. Though this is an admirable aspect in a human being it does not work well in comedy. The plot line too is too predictable and ends in a ‘happily ever after’ note.

Two uncut diamonds star as the Indian pitchers. Suraj Sharma of ‘Life of Pi’ and Dinesh Patel who played the character Madhur Mittal of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ act in the movie. These are two classy actors who have reached the global audience with their powerful performances. It is a pity that they are put on the level of supporting characters. They should have been the stars of the production. Instead the movie basically rotates around Hamm’s Bernstein and his perspective. We actually get an overdose of this and this makes it a bit monotonous and way too patronizing at times.

Pitobash Tripathy is made to look cartoonish as the translator Amit Rohan but transforms into a surprisingly serious level at the end of the movie. Lake Bell who plays the sweet medical student and Bernstein’s love interest Brends is mostly highlighted in the tale to make him learn responsibility and compassion.

‘Million Dollar Arm’ may not be in league with Bennett Miller’s ‘Moneyball’ and Ivan Reitman’s ‘Draft Day’ but it leaves its own imprint in the sports movie genre.

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