***Disclosure: I received an all-expense paid trip to Hollywood to cover various Disney/ABC events. All opinions are 100% honest and have not been influenced in any way.***
My recent trip to Hollywood for the "Million Dollar Arm" premiere was absolutely amazing. I am STILL telling everyone all about the awesome things I got to do in just a few short days! I And I am telling them that they NEED to go see this inspirational movie. (Yes, I just said NEED, in capital letters. This film is just that good! And I am not even a die-hard baseball fan!)
During my stay in the beautiful city of Los Angeles, I was fortunate enough to get the chance to meet and interview the talent of this film. And I have to admit, I may have formed a wee little crush on Madhur Mittal. (You might know him from a little movie called "Slumdog Millionaire". ) What can I say? He reminds me a bit of my Bruno in appearance, and that just made my knees get all weak. What do you think? Do you see it, too?
Anyway, we got the opportunity to talk to the dreamy Madhur, as well as Suraj Sharma, known for his phenomenal performance in "Life of Pi". These guys play the key roles in "Million Dollar Arm", since they portray Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh, the first winners of the Million Dollar Arm competition in India.
I think they both did an absolutely stellar job playing these 2 kids with humble beginnings in rural villages in India. And I cannot imagine the roles would have been easy, either. They had to endure scorching heat while filming in their native country, as well as capture the transformation that Dinesh and Rinku experienced when they adapted to American life. In my opinion, playing characters that evolve so greatly had to be quite a challenge, and they did so flawlessly.
Here's just a brief clip that shows a little taste of how fantastic these actors are:
We got to chat with Madhur and Suraj about their experiences making "Million Dollar Arm", and one of the things we were all curious about is how they both got their start in acting. Here's what both guys had to say:
MADHUR: Very different stories for both of us. I have been in the business ever since I could remember. I started my career as a Michael Jackson impersonator as a child. Before I was three, you know, I started with Michael Jackson and that’s how I got into the entertainment business and when I was five my whole family they shifted from Agra, where I was born to Mumbai, just so I could pursue a career in the arts and just really amazing supportive family. And they struggled and really pushed for me, and I always wanted to be an actor, you know, be in the movies. So I've always had that, go let out, you know, want to be an actor and I've, kind of, worked and strived hard to be that.
We also wanted to hear about what compelled them to audition for the roles of Rinku and Dinesh. Why did they want to take on "Million Dollar Arm"?
MADHUR: I think the first thing that really hit- I think I speak for the both of is what really hit me was, this is a tremendous feat that these guys have achieved and I had no idea about these guys. Nobody in my family knew. None of my friends knew this story. And what these guys have achieved is something that nobody has ever done any sport in the history of mankind. That is vague. So, I was really kind of upset and I know for a fact that so was Suraj that we do not- nobody knew about this story.
We also got to meet and chat with the REAL J.B. Bernstein, Rinku Singh, and Dinesh Patel. (You can check out my interview HERE.) Here are the real-life people who inspired the film.
These are some pretty big shoes to fill as actors, and I am sure that playing real, living people has got to be a totally different experience than portraying totally fictional characters. Here are Madhur and Suraj's thoughts on what it was like to meet the REAL people and play such important characters:
MADHUR: For me, the biggest problem was that Rinku, ever since this time period that we are trying to portray, ever since then he's changed tremendously.
These guys play very convincing pitchers in the film. Being that they were born and raised in India, where American baseball is relatively unknown, we were curious if they had ever played the game before accepting their roles as Rinku and Dinesh. Their answer surprised me!
SURAJ: Absolutely not [LAUGHTER]. Zero experience in baseball altogether. Yes. It was quite hard. We had a lot of fun during training though.
"Million Dollar Arm" is full of so many unforgettable moments, from the auditions in India to the impromptu "dinner in India" with J.B. and Brenda, (played by Jon Hamm and Lake Bell) and everything in between. We just had to know what some of their favorite moments to film were. Of course they couldn't choose just one. Not possible with a movie so deep and moving. Here are Madhur and Suraj's thoughts about what it was like to film, and their most memorable moments:
SURAJ: That a tough one. We actually had so much fun, just every day. It's like we were quite a handful to work with. We were just two young kids, you know, and you give us a glove and ball, we would just keep playing all day long. They would literally have to drag us on set, but we had a lot of fun like in a lot of scenes. Like, for example, the scene where they throw up was not fun.
This movie has some very raw, emotional moments. (Get the tissues ready! If you're anything like me, you'll probably be needing them.) These emotions are portrayed with such an amazing authenticity, so we asked if Suraj and Madhur drew from their own personal experiences to be able to accurately portray their roles as Rinku and Dinesh.
SURAJ: Definitely. Firstly the fact that we were doing this in itself, it was like a parallel to what was going on, because we had to learn really quickly and then perform something that we have never done before and be good at the same thing. Then also with Mother obviously, with "Slum Dog Millionaire" and in life where you’re suddenly nobody’s and then you’re thrown and you’re supposed to be something right. And it affects you very strongly, and whether you trying using you or not, it’s going to be used by you, because at end of the day it’s the experience that’s the strongest and the closest.
Our interview was SO much fun. Madhur and Suraj were full of smiles and such a positive energy, and the conversation flowed so well. In fact, we were all laughing during the whole interview! They spoke with such eloquence about their experiences playing these pivotal roles, and we really took away a good sense of who these talented actors are. I really enjoyed it, and look forward to seeing their faces in many more features in the future! (Especially the adorable Madhur Mittal...Yep, I am swooning!)
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I'm Brandy, a happily married, proud mama of two munchkins and a teen. You can read more about me HERE. If you're interested in building a working relationship, please feel free to e-mail me at: NewlyCrunchyMamaOf3@gmail.com
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