***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.***
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?
Here's just a brief clip that shows a little taste of how fantastic these actors are:
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.
SURAJ: For me, I never knew. I never wanted to be an actor, or anything to do with film. It was more of realization, you know, to some extend I might have not been able to do anything, unless that had happened, because then that just opened my eyes to the fact that, oh, wow, look there is something here that actually I love a lot. And that’s how it began.
MADHUR: It’s very liberating to be on a film set. Like as a child I was very shy, a complete introvert, I mean not the kind of person I am today at all. And even then I remember that I wouldn’t be able to answer questions to people or just be very communicative, but when I was on stage I was a different person. And that’s when I felt the most confident and the most alive, and I felt that this is where I belong and this is what I’m meant to do. This is where I’m meant to be. And I’m sure Suraj feels the same way.
SURAJ: Same way. Your surrounded by so many weirdoes who are trying to make something out of nothing and I love. And they are full of passion. By weirdoes, I mean it in a very positive way Like we were saying, you know, insanity is legal on a film set.
MADHUR: You need it.
SURAJ: I mean you’d be crazy to want to work on a film or movies, but just because of the hours, the amount your working; the amount you have to give to it, the fact that you’re going to lose a lot of sleep.
MADHUR: The amount of creative egos at work at the same spot.
SURAJ: There’s a lot that’s happening and to want to deal with that itself, just because of the fact that you’re making movies, you know, it’s as simple as that. You need to be crazy and you feel- I feel very much at home in that situation.
MADHUR: Also, I think it’s one of those businesses in very proud to be a part of a business where you except people from all walks of life and, you know, just a tremendous spectrum of people from different cultures who look different and just coming together and creating art. That’s awesome.
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.
MADHUR: And I think it's very important that this story reaches people and that was the first thing that hit me. And also the fact that, you know, we'll get a chance to portray real-life characters. And what do you think?
SURAJ: Yes, same thing. It's just the fact that these guys came from nothing, went and did something phenomenal. And nobody
seems to realize that nothing was ever- they weren't really appreciated for what they did.
MADHUR: In a way, yes. They're not applauded enough.
SURAJ: Exactly. And that's super- it depressed me almost and the fact that I didn’t know myself. It was like why I'm doing that. I'm doing what everybody else is. It just leads you to think that their story really needs to be told, and people need to know this. End in itself, other than the fact that it was an amazing feat it just gives you a sense that there's a whole lot out there that we don't really realize; opportunity wise. And the amount someone can work in a situation where they don't know what's going on and make something out of themselves, is really- it’s very inspiring.
MADHUR: Also I think it gave both of us a chance to showcase
something different from what people have seen us do in our last
films. I played a bad guy in my last film; he played a completely different character. So, I think also it’s a great chance for us as young actors portray something different and expand our spectrum as actors.
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.
SURAJ: He's so good at adapting that since- this the point when the movie ends from here to here, he's become a completely different person, so talking to him at this point doesn't really help me too much with all this that we’re trying to do. But Dinesh helped.
MADHUR: Dinesh was with us in Delhi when we were training for baseball and he hung out with us a lot, which is obviously great for me, because I'm portraying him in the film. But what he also did was, you know, not just give us an insight hint of his mind, but he used to tell us all these stories and anecdotes of what happened when they were really going through all this that we’re portraying in the film. And that would really give us a lot of insight into how Rinku was at the point in time or how JB was and how Aasif’s character was, etc.
SURAJ: Just real insights into how these people were feeling when everything was unraveling in front of them.
SURAJ: So, that was I think, really great and getting a lot of time to spend with Dinesh was really helpful for both of us.
MADHUR: And also the fact that Amit's character in real life really did have that.
SURAJ: His real name is Pitobash.
MADHUR: Pitobash basically went around him recording footage of everything through the process.
SURAJ: Literally everything. Yes.
MADHUR: So we had this massive footage.
SURAJ: Massive treasure.
MADHUR: That's how we got to know them before everything happened. Just their body language was so different. Their physique was different. The way they looked at stuff and talked about everything was really different. So all these things together like, kind of, helped us build these people in our heads.
SURAJ: Absolutely not [LAUGHTER]. Zero experience in baseball altogether. Yes. It was quite hard. We had a lot of fun during training though.
MADHUR: I mean we didn't know anything and then we were going to try and get all this stuff under our belt real quickly. We had three and a half weeks to do whatever we could do. We had our coaches flown down from the states, as we used to have four hours of baseball every day and we are both quite scrawny boys, still very thin. So we had to put on a lot of muscle, you know. So we trained for three or four hours every day and then rest an hour, and then go to the gym for a couple of hours, and strict diet. Yes, it was quite physically challenging, but it helped, because it’s like a blank slate that you sling it with, which was exactly what his character and my character were also going through.
MADHUR: Like they didn’t know anything, and then they had very little time; high pressure of make it, do it and, you know, there's no other option. So it helped understand the emotional parts.
SURAJ: Yes, I also, like, I think we had a lot of draw from the fact that we were in the similar situation, you know, like we had a really short amount of time to prepare and then we had to perform on set. And also these guys they had like 10 months of preparation, and they had to perform. So I think it puts us in a similar kind of mind frame.
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.
MADHUR: Not fun for me. It stank [LAUGHTER]. They had some really disgusting vegetarian soup. Yes, and it really stank.
SURAJ: It wasn't really while we were shooting always that made it special, it was just literally the fact that everybody around us always was seemingly having an extremely awesome time. Amazing time. And it's not like you're having an amazing time and you’re letting go of work, you know, kind of situation. It was the fact that all that added to the dynamic that hopefully was being set up in front of the frame, you know.
MADHUR: There were some scenes that were really hard to shoot, like, for example, when we were shooting in India there were some really hot days. 145 degree. 140.
SURAJ: 140? It’s not degrees Celsius. Degree Fahrenheit. I don’t if it got to 140, but it was really hot.
MADHUR: It was a 140. I know this for a fact [LAUGHTER], because I checked. I was like my skin is burning how hot is it. Especially when we shot in Lucknow, that was the day. It was 140.
SURAJ: And all of the extras on the set....
MADHUR: We were enclosed in like four walls and there was this huge ground in the middle. So we had no air flow and the sun just beating down from top with thousands of these people in this small space. It was really hot and we had scenes where we were running around and pitching and what not.
SURAJ: Yes. It wasn’t the hardest for us. Imagine those 300 to 400 people standing there in the heat.
MADHUR: Yes, and just in the heat.
SURAJ: And they have to act excited.
MADHUR: And it’s very hard and they don’t even do it professionally like we do, so it’s really hard. Yes.
SURAJ: But, you know, they managed to do it. Everybody, kind of, pushed through all. There were a lot of times when stuff got really hard or complicated for everybody.
MADHUR: Jon probably changed his t-shirt like 20 times
SURAJ: It was really hot, but people managed. People really did- especially John. I felt like he’s got this adaptive feature to him that you don’t often see.
MADHUR: He’s a bit Rinku that way.
SURAJ: Rinku’s also a little bit that way. You get somewhere- at first obviously like a little bit- extremely different, and then you just start taking in whatever you can as fast as you can and you slowly start understanding what's going on, I think. A lot of people in our crew went through that when we were in India and we kind of used that when we went to America, to Atlanta.
Madhur: Hotlanta. Ya’ll making a movie. It was fun we had a blast. Good times.
SURAJ: Yes, very good times.
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.
MADHUR: Yes, to yourself. Yes.
SURAJ: To yourself and both, Rinku and Dinesh were also going through. So, you know, you end up using all these resources just to try to get an idea or sense of what they would be experiencing- and it was worse for them, because they didn’t know the language.
MADHUR: It’s a whole lot much harder. So you try to use whatever you can and it’ll never get up to the level that which they felt it, but, you know, always then get an essence and then built from there.