Million Dollar Arm

When ‘City Of Joy’ came out, there was a lot of talk about how Hollywood showed India as a slum dump. In it’s defence, the novel on which the movie was based was about the time spent by a man from the 1st world in abject poverty in the most depraved part of an Indian city. Then came ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. The name itself has ‘slum’ in it. So the western world again after a couple of decades was treated with the spectacle of India, the land of the poor. I admit, ‘rags to riches’ sells better.But ‘Million Dollar Arms’ has no excuse. When JB Bernstein who drives a porche and lives in a multi-million dollar bachelor pad in upscale LA decides to set up office in Mumbai and is ready to give away $100000 as prize money, it was in the heart of a slum. A place where it stinks of garbage, A/C breaks down, his neighbours are all below poverty line, and he even gets diarrhea from the food. Stereotype much? He even shows via Skype where he was living to his neighbour back in LA. When he finds the boys and flies back to LA, we are treated with an aerial shot of skyscrapers, freeways, fast cars ; all the grandeur and glory of United States of America. Not a good start.
But here is the deal. If a movie can rope you in (in this case a super pissed me) slowly but surely as it unfolds in spite of it’s cliches, faux pas and predictability, it has done something right. John Hamm’s journey from a man who’s idea of commitment was directly proportional to amount of $$ to be gained, to the father figure of two scared, homesick boys who’s sparkling dreams to make it big in America was getting hazy and dim by the hour, was measured, with the right dollop of emotion and humour. Unlike the baseballs, Hamm seamlessly portrays a self centered businessman and an endearing father figure/older brother. He is the highlight of the movie no doubt. His charm is almost tangible. A R Rahman’s music score blends beautifully with the flow of the movie although it’s not clear to me why he ended the movie with a south Indian song when Hamm operated out of Mumbai and the boys were from Lucknow.It’s an uplifting movie about dreams, hopes, perseverance and the realization of the impossible. And I am officially a John Hamm fan.


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