***Disclosure: I received an all-expense paid trip to Hollywood courtesy of Disney to facilitate my posts. No other compensation was provided, and all opinions are 100% honest and have not been influenced in any way.***
However, if you asked me which of my recent interviews I am most excited about, chances are, you've never heard their names. Sadly, J.B. Bernstein, Rinku Singh, and Dinesh Patel aren't exactly household names. But they should be, since their story is among the most inspirational I have ever heard. These brave young men, along with their surrogate "dad" and sports agent, J.B. Bernstein, have accomplished something life-changing in so many ways, and somehow, their story had remained under the radar. Until now.
You see, Disney's new movie, "Million Dollar Arm" is based off of a true story. In this wonderful family film, J.B. Bernstein is an arrogant, struggling sports agent who is looking for a brand new idea to capitalize on. Something no one in the sports world had ever attempted. Something new and fresh, and most importantly, something that could rescue his failing agency, Seven Figure Management.
One day, J.B. got an idea. He would travel to India, where he would seek out some of the best Cricket "bowlers" and turn them into skilled American Baseball pitchers. J.B. Bernstein held auditions in several regions in India, attracting loads of hopefuls. (The winner would receive $100,000 American dollars, and the 2 top pitchers would travel to America to train for a real MLB try-out.) Oh, and I should mention, this had to happen in a 12 month period. That's right. He had ONE YEAR to take young men who have never held a baseball, and transform them into skilled pitchers.
Impossible? Well, you might think so. But J.B. Bernstein accomplished this and gained so much more than notoriety in the sports world. He also found the love of his life, learned about the importance of family, and even became a surrogate "Dad" to Rinku and Dinesh. So while he saved his failing business, he also became a better human being in the process.
Last week, we were blessed enough to chat with the REAL J.B. Bernstein, as well as Rinku and Dinesh. When they entered the room, there was so much excitement. The guys had the biggest smiles, and you could tell that J.B. was very proud of these young men. He had an almost fatherly air, and you could tell that these men have a very strong bond.
J.B. Bernstein : You know, some of the things they touch on is the inspirations are accurate like you know, American Idol, but seeing Cricket. But you know, like any idea, I have Business Partners and they were part of the Idea Generation but it's hard to tell a Movie from 80 points of view. In reality, my two Business Partners, Will Chang and Ash Vasudevan, where both in the Movie. They helped us and you know, we kind of were both thinking about these things separately and it wasn't really until we came together that the idea, you know, came from this nebulous fuzzy thing of Hey, we should try to find Talent in India too.
We should, you know, try to do this Game Show and see if we could find some Athletes. So it's -- it's pretty accurate in that it shows the inspirations for things but obviously, you know, I'm not smart enough to come up with this idea all by myself.
J.B. Bernstein: They both, (Rinku and Dinesh) had the chance to screen the Movie for his team down in Renton. Dinesh was actually at a
Screening with us with the Indian Ambassador of the United States. So yeah, these guys have met Obama.
I've been a Sports Agent for 20 years. I've never done anything good until I met these guys. You know, Lisa actually got to go to the White House so with them, who was our Publicist over there. I was getting married that day.
I think that I would probably speak for all of us when we say that this is a really personal journey for us. It's not like your traditional Business deal that I've done. This is something that obviously is a very pivotal point in our lives. So you know, our hope is really two things. One is that people take away what these guys have endured, persevered in order to be successful and -- and take away that lesson that dreams are possible in this country, more so than maybe anywhere else in the world. Now for
kids to be able to look at Rinku and Dinesh as role models and say Look, if these guys did this, I can do anything.
It's that first spark of hope not just for kids in India but for kids here, for kids everywhere. They have these two guys to look at, who have done something that's never been done in the history of the world, to go from a position of never hearing of the Sport to being a skilled player. Rinku won his first game 13 months from the day he picked up a Baseball.
Dinesh won his first game 14 months from the first day that he picked up a Baseball. And I mean, that's just unheard of. I've been a Sports man my whole life. I've been an Agent my whole Adult life. I've never heard of anything like this. I never heard of anybody even thinking something like this could be possible.
And then you know, for my story, I think that I'm excited for people who realize it's never too late to change. It's never too late to be a better person. It's not that I was a bad person. I think I was somewhat one dimensional. Everybody says, you know, were you really that big a jerk and I side stepped that question because I was like, well, I didn't feel like a jerk at the time. I wasn't trying to be. I was very myopic and I think that now, thanks to these guys, thanks to my family, I have a much different view. So I'm kind of hoping that those two things come through to the general audience but it's exciting to be able after 6 years of negotiating and filming and whatever, to be able to actually finally share this with the world.
J.B. Bernstein: Wow, um, Delphine's only 3 so I don't know that I would qualify to give advice just yet after only 3 years. I'm still probably taking advice. But having Rinku and Dinesh live with me gave me a taste of Fatherhood. It reminded me of the importance of Family. It reminded me
of the importance of being surrounded by people that you love
and that love you. And being able to take pride in other people's accomplishments... A lot of the rudimentary lessons of life came back into focus. So I think in a lot of ways, I started being a Parent, although kind of Baptism by fire, with these guys.
And then now with Delphine, the best advice I can give to any parent I think is to treasure your time. It's almost inconceivable that she's 3 years old. It's almost inconceivable that this was 2008 and2009 when these guys were living with me. The time goes so fast. There's no way you can possibly cherish time enough with your kids. So I guess that's the best advice I can give. Other than that, I'm actually in the taking advice mode so if you have any, just text. A lot of you have been tweeting me. Send out all the advice. I'm taking it.
We asked them what it was like to leave their families, and leave India behind, in pursuit of their Million Dollar Dream.
Dinesh : My parents were really afraid that I was leaving. They said, "Don't go." because this is the new world for me. So they were very afraid.
Rinku : It was told now we didn't just leave the family Um beside the family, we left our Culture, Family, Friends, Food, and we were just 18 year old kids. Making that huge decision wasn't easy for us. That was just on top of everywhere. What are we gonna do without knowing anything
about American Culture. We don't know language. We don't know
anybody besides JB. And our Parents, they were really afraid cause we never went out to the Country.
And that really -- that really changes our life, you know. That really teaches us that whatever comes to your life, you have to make that decision. If you're willing to give in and out, you will be happy for the decision you made. So I'm really proud of the decision I made being in America. It's totally amazing. It have changed my life, changed my family life, and you know, I wanted to stay here.
Rinku: Yes, it really takes some time. Just like, if you took American Baseball Player and make them become a Cricket Bowler, they have no idea how to pitch in Cricket, right? So that was totally different world for me coming here and playing Professional Baseball. Had no idea. It did take a
year, but I believe that it doesn't matter what you're doing in your life, if you're willing to give whatever you got inside and out, you are gonna succeed. So it took to a year.
J.B. Bernstein: I've been to a lot of places in India, maybe even more than
these guys. It's so diverse. There are so many types
of places. There's huge Cities like Delhi, and Bangalore,
and these amazing technical Centers, huge Office Buildings.
Proctor and Gamble, Apple, everybody's there.
Then there are Villages like where these guys came from which are kind of rural, just what you would almost call Middle Class.
Farming Villages. Everybody lives off the land. They have
honorable jobs. They work hard, strong family units.
Then there are Villages that are somewhere in between. They're like what you might call Mid-Cities like Varanasi which is about 30 minutes from where Dinesh lives, which happens to be the birth
place of 3 religions. It's more of an Old World City than a City like Delhi which looks almost like Boston or something. The diversity from place to place is so broad that there's no way you could do a Movie about India and characterize the entire Country.
But where these guys came from were what India might consider almost like Middle Classes, nice Farming Villages. They both had good homes.
They both went to High School. You know, as a matter of fact, Rinku's Father was able to send all the 7 kids through School. Every single one of them. It's really an amazing-- His Dad, as amazing as Rinku is, I hope you don't mind me saying, his Dad is even more amazing. And Rinku and Dinesh' Parents as well, the lengths that they went to, to keep the family together ...It is amazing.
And that's the story more so than the Geography or the trappings of Villages or whatever it may be, is the length Indian families will go to keep together as a family is how, the best way I would characterize India. Is that fair?
Rinku: You said it perfectly.
J.B. Bernstein: We're still running it in India. Uh, we'll start our 3rd Season this Winter. During our first season, we saw about 38,000 kids. This year we'll see half a million. Major League Baseball is now playing a big part in it, as well as Disney and Simon & Shuster. You know, we have a lot more muscle to flex than if it were just me, Rinku, Dinesh, Ash and Will. Not that the 5 of us aren't formidable on some level....We have a little bit more muscle to flex and a little bit bigger Microphone so I'm -- I'm hoping that we'll find Talent and there's a monetary side to this thing. But there's a social side to this thing that really none of us saw coming that has really become the primary focus of "Million Dollar Arm" which sound weird for an Agent to say cause you know, that's not-- I'm supposed to be about making money. But this is a unique opportunity we have to have almost a Social Revolution.
Dinesh : When I was here, I missed a lot of home. But right now, I'm living in India with my Family. I'm happy.
J.B. Bernstein : Do you miss America now that you're back?
Dinesh : Yeah. [LAUGHTER]
J.B. Bernstein : What do you miss? Movies? TV?
Dinesh : Everything.
J.B. Bernstein : Food.
Dinesh : Of course. Pizza.
J.B. Bernstein : Of all the true parts, that is one of them!
You can follow "Million Dollar Arm" on social media to stay on top of the latest news, clips and more:
Website and Mobile Site: www.Disney.com/MillionDollarArm
Like on Facebook: www.facebook.com/MillionDollarArm
Follow on Twitter: @DisneyPictures
And remember, be sure to stay tuned for more exclusive interviews with the stars of the film, the real life people whose amazing accomplishments inspired this feel-good story, and for a full movie review!