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Movie with a Message: Million Dollar Arm

“Sometimes to win, you have to change the game.” J.B Bernstein

Have you ever smiled when watching a movie from start to finish? Well maybe I am exaggerating a bit here, but that was the feeling I had watching Million Dollar Arm for the second time. I love India and everything it has to offer, so I am always excited to watch them on the silver screen, when there is a movie about them. The authenticities of the characters displayed in this film, made me want to be a part of not just the movie, but also the real-life cast.

Yes, it is a film based on a true-life story (our favorites). According to producer Mark Ciardi, you know you have a great story when it can pull on the emotional strings of the viewer. Okay, enough of my personal feelings let me try and get you to watch the movie—if you haven’t, or for the second time if you already have. Let's talk!

Million dollar arm, is a story about two Indian boys, living in India, with probably no dreams of making it to major leagues baseball, when their life completely turned around, after they entered into a reality contest of the same name—Million dollar arm, which was built around finding some young men, who could pitch at a high speed. The first prize was $100,000, and the award for the runner-up was $10,000, with a chance at trying out for a major leagues baseball team and $1,000,000.

A sports agent in Los Angeles, by the name of J.B, Bernstein and his business partner Mr. Ash, came up with this million dollar idea, to go to India, and find their next superstar, because they felt India was an untapped market, and they could make a whole lot of money from their venture. Basically, they wanted their Yao Ming.

After they hatched a plan, they started looking for investors to get on board. They were struggling as an independent agency, and needed the help of investors to stay afloat, and also foot the bill of this million dollar venture. Mr. Chang, a lucrative businessman, got on board. He wanted them to get the young men who win the competition, ready for the tryouts, at a fraction of the time they were proposing, which was two years. He wanted it done in one year, which was highly improbable, as their coach would later put it.

Out of desperation, J.B agreed to Mr. Chang's terms, and off to India, he went. It was a cultural shock for Mr. J.B when he landed in India; the traffic was crazy, people were honking at every second, and it was blazing hot. He teamed up with a Mr. Vivek, who helped him find accommodation and gave him office space so he could work effectively. He also had another agent join him from the United States, to help alleviate some of his workloads.

It was now time to find their boys. There was a persistent young man who heard about the opportunity and wanted to work with them at all cost. He didn't want to try out, but he just wanted to be a part of the team. He told Mr. J.B that he would work for free, and anything he needed, he—Amit, was up to the task. So Amit became J.B's personal assistant so to speak. He helped him with errands, airport pickups, and drop-offs, and basically, anything the team needed, he was there to deliver.

The competition was packed; they tested out 38000 young men, and eventually got their guys. These young men couldn't speak English, although their parents were happy for them, for this great opportunity, they felt sad and worried that their children were going to be so far away from home in a foreign country. Mr. J.B. promised their families to take care of them, and of course, the money they got from being the first and second place, was a huge relief for both families.

These boys (Rinku & Dinesh) where about 18 years old, at the time. Amit also wanted a part in the American dream journey, so he pressed for Mr. J.B to let him accompany them, J.B was glad to offer him a position as a translator for the boys since they didn't know a word of English. Off to the City of Angels, they went. J.B immediately got them a profound coach (Tom House) at the University of Southern California, where they went for training each day. He asked the coach if the boys would be ready in less than a year, but the coach said it was highly improbable, but not impossible.

J.B, Dinesh, Rinku & Amit

The boys struggled with the language barrier, they sabotaged their stay at a hotel, and J.B had to move all three of them in with him. He was beginning to get frustrated because the boys were not performing as well as they ought to. He treated them as investments and not real people, so it really got to them.

They confided in Mr. J.B’s tenant at the time, who just lived behind them. She was single, as well as Mr. J.B, and she fast became friends with the boys and Amit their translator. Amit documented every journey, while they were in LA. When J.B dropped in to check on his "investments" their coach informed him that they wouldn't be ready for the tryouts in a few months.

He also advised that J.B be present with them, and act more like someone who was not only invested in their future but in them as people. Brenda, their confidante, and neighbor, also advised J.B along those lines. Mr. J.B now became more involved with them, but the boys were far from ready. He then went back to Mr. Chang to see if he could revise the terms of their agreement, but the business mogul refused. He was a man of principle and didn’t like to go back on his words.

So the boys had to go for the tryouts, even if they weren't ready. On their way, Dinesh calmly asked the coach—“do you think we are ready for this?” the coach then responded, “it does not matter what I think or anyone else, it only matters what you think." The boys went in for their tryouts but didn't meet the mark. But they had shown so much progress, for people who didn't even know the details about baseball, a few months ago. Mr. Chang was proud of them, and congratulated J.B, saying he was proud to see that J.B and his team were able to get the boys ready for a tryout in one year.

So he was willing to extend their contract for three years, giving J.B and his team, more time to recruit more people, who could make the American Major Leagues Baseball Team. Although that was great coming out from Mr. Chang, he was done with the boys from India, because no one signed them. This devastated J.B. To calm him down; the boys had one more trick up their sleeves.

They set up a date for Mr. J.B Sir and Ms. Brenda as they fondly referred to them. After a lovely evening out, J.B was still plagued with a burning desire to get these boys signed to a major leagues team. He felt he had failed them. So he kept on scouting for representatives from organizations, and one day, he got a yes from someone who was willing to give them another chance.

This time around, Amit gave the boys a pep talk. He had dreams of playing baseball but decided he would rather coach than play. So J.B pushed him to go encourage the boys, before their second chance. He did that so well, and there was not a dry eye, after he was done (well speaking about me). The boys pitched so well that day that it got them their first contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates, ten months after they left India for LA, with no prior experience with baseball. I bet all of India was proud; the boys' lives were transformed by this opportunity of a lifetime.

Lessons Learned

Never give up on your dreams

J.B had a vision, and that was creating the next big thing out of India. China had Yao Ming, and he wanted someone like that out of India. He found these kids, gave them an opportunity, and never lost hope even when everything seemed bleak. J.B had one of the fruits of the spirits for sure, which is long-suffering. He kept on going, even when there was no point to keep going, and eventually got the boys signed. Amit is also an example of someone who never gave up on his dreams.

He wanted to coach baseball and was wise enough to recognize the opportunity when J.B went to India. Although there was no opening for "coach," he did not mind serving Mr. J.B and his team, for no pay. He realized that if he could just be in the company of these great people, maybe somehow, one day, his dream will come to pass.

Because of how faithful he was with little, he was able to travel with them to the US, learn the ins and out of the game, by experiencing it in real time, and eventually went back home to India to coach baseball. He was faithful and committed with little, and then he became ruler over much (Matthew 25:23). So we have to be faithful with what may seem little in front of us, because we never know where that would take us.

Where are they now

The real J.B, Rinku & Dinesh

Mr. J.B eventually married Ms. Brenda, and they now have a child (crazy right?). He also wrote a book of the same title and continues to be a sports agent. Rinku and Dinesh played for a while with the Pittsburgh Pirates, they were able to go back home and help their families. Rinku still plays baseball and also wrestles professionally, while Dinesh went back home to finish school and also teach baseball. In 2011, he helped other young kids from the village to prepare for the Million Dollar Arm competition.

I love Walt Disney movies; there is always a message behind them. This movie gives people hope and empowers them to go after their dreams and never to give up. And that is why it is a Movie with a Message. Hope you enjoyed it and will make time out to watch it. Although released in 2014, its message is still relevant to this day. The movie can be found on YouTube and iTunes.

Make sure to come back and comment after you watch it, and if there are any suggestions of movies, that you would like to see, but want a reason to watch it, leave them in the comment box below. Have a great day.

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