‘Million Dollar Arm’ maker plans biopic on Indian cricket star

New Delhi, Oct 8 (IANS) After bringing alive on the Hollywood scene, an inspiring, underdog story of two Indians who made it to an American baseball team, the makers of “Million Dollar Arm” are now eyeing the idea of a cinematic telling of a biopic of “one of the biggest cricket stars from India”.

In an interview to IANS, the film’s producer Mark Ciardi said he is intrigued by more Indian stories.

“There a few very compelling stories. One a very inspiring biopic on one of the biggest cricket stars from India. We will have more announcements forthcoming,” Ciardi said in an email interaction from Los Angeles.

Indian cinema in itself is in a phase where several filmmakers are digging into life stories of sportspersons. After movies on boxer MC Mary Kom, sprinter Milkha Singh, athlete Paan Singh Tomar, there are more biopics coming on cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni and even hockey legend Dhyan Chand.

Ciardi, a former baseball player himself, said: “Sports stories have a unique way to unify people’s spirits and brings people together. So many times you see these amazing underdog stories emanate from a pitch, a field, or a court.”

The India connect of “Million Dollar Arm” — which will premiere on Star Movies Select HD on Saturday at 9 p.m — in fact, went beyond just the story. It was also shot in three Indian locations — Mumbai, Agra and Delhi.

Is he then hoping to come back to India to film the prospective biopic on the Indian cricket star?

“Yes, absolutely. India is a very strategic market for us. Since ‘Million Dollar Arm’, I created and co-founded Apex Entertainment with Ash Vasudevan and Will Chang, who were both portrayed in the film.

“We are working on a couple of very interesting inspiring stories that originate from India and are excited about coming back to India to film. We should be able to announce them shortly,” he added.

“We think India is a rich source of many, great inspiring stories and we are looking forward to spending more in India,” said Ciardi, who has earlier produced sports movies based on true stories, including “The Rookie” (2002), “The Game Plan” (2007) and “Secretariat” (2010).

As for some of the Indian sports-based entertainers that he has “immensely” enjoyed watching are “Lagaan”, “Chak De! India” and “Mary Kom”.

His own “Million Dollar Arm”, which released last year, focussed 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 producer, who is the co-founder, president and CEO of Apex Entertainment, is “very hopeful that the movie will reach a wider audience” with its TV premiere.

“TV certainly allows for a wider audience to see it. I am hopeful that more people watch this very inspiring story that is still unfolding as we speak, and has the potential to continue to make history,” he said.

As a story, he feels “Million Dollar Arm”, which has a cast including Jon Hamm, Pitobash, Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal and Darshan Zariwala, is inspirational.

“It’s an underdog story that deals in a very authentic way with India and how these two boys achieved the unthinkable. They have never seen or heard of baseball before, and got picked up to play for a major league team in six months after being trained in the US. Also, this is a history-making journey that should make all Indians proud,” Ciardi added.

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

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