Initially, I thought that Million Dollar Arm was going to be the true story of an amputee athlete who gets a bionic arm. However, I was dead wrong. It’s the true story about American sports agent, JB Bernstein who goes to India with the idea that cricket bowlers can make great baseball pitchers. To gather publicity for the search, he creates a contest called Million Dollar Arm. The best two players receive a cash prizes as well as the opportunity to fly to America to become baseball players.
JB Berstein (played by Jon Hamm) and his business partner Ash Vasudevan (Aasif Mandvi) run an independent sports agency. They fail to attract new clients which put their business at risk. So, they decide to look for the next great sports talent in India. India has a population of 1.2 billion people and with the right athlete; they could generate enormous revenue on sponsorships and merchandise.
The two winning contestants on Million Dollar Arm are Rinku Singh (Suraj Sharma) and Dinesh Patel (Madhur Mittal) who both come from poor backgrounds and have never played baseball before. Suddenly, they are whisked away to America to train as baseball players. The process is physically and mentally overwhelming for them. They are both aware that they are big investment to many people and they have no guarantees that they will be signed to any baseball team.
Suraj Sharma and Dinesh Patel were excellent as the athletes. They managed to convey the excitement of their fortunate circumstances as well as being fearful and insecure that it could all be taken away from them. They are helped along the way with their plucky translator Amit Rohan (Pitobash Tripathy) who is used for comic relief. I really felt for the Indian characters as they had so many people depending on them. They all had families back at home to support, JB’s business was on the line and this was the best opportunity that they ever had. Winning a contract would mean that they have financial security and respect.
This is a good family film with a mix of east and west and a lot of heart without being too cheesy. It is interesting to see the business side of sport, which is a nice change in the sports genre. The blend of two sports goes seamlessly and it reminds me of another Disney movie called Cool Runnings. That movie is about a Jamaican bobsled team. I’m a sucker for inspirational underdog movies especially if it is a Disney film. After watching this movie, I learnt that Suraj and Dinesh go on to have successful careers but I won’t spoil it for you.