“We took some creative license,” he said.
The foundation of the real-life story, though, is intact. Bernstein really did travel to a number of cities in India in 2007, staging tryouts in search of pitching talent.
“The hope was to find the next Yao Ming, except for baseball,” Bernstein said in a statement, referring to the Chinese NBA star. “In a country of 1.2 billion people, the odds are good that you will find an undiscovered raw talent. The hope was to capture all those cricket fans and turn them towards baseball.”
He discovered Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, played by Suraj Sharma and Madhur Mittal. Was he successful? We won’t give away the ending (but seriously, what do you think? It’s a Disney film. Plus, Google).
“Million Dollar Arm” is set in India and California and was filmed in India and Atlanta, another tax-credits success story.
“I didn’t know much about Atlanta,” Gillespie said. “I ended up falling in love with Atlanta. I got a little house in the Little Five Points area. We got to shoot in a lot of locations. It was a really good experience.”
Working on the film, for which both Bernstein and Patel served as consultants, was a good experience, too. Whisked from his Australia to New York on a college scholarship, Gillespie knows what it is like to feel suddenly very lost in a huge new place.
“The language barrier was an issue in that I had an Australian accent and ‘Crocodile Dundee’ had just come out,” he joked. “New York City can be a very lonely place, with home being so far away and the sense that you need to prove yourself to the people back home.”
“Million Dollar Arm” feels to him less about sports and more about life.
“I don’t necessarily think of it as a baseball film,” he said. “It makes you re-evaluate your priorities.”