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    Baseball buddies
    This week also sees Mad Men star Jon Hamm appearing alongside Indian actors like Suraj Sharma (Life of Pi), Pitobash Tripathy, Darshan Jariwala and Madhur Mittal (Slumdog Millionaire) in Million Dollar Arm. Directed by Craig Gillespie, the film is based on the true story of a reality TV show in which a sports agent discovered two Indian teenagers, Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, and signed them up to play baseball in America. Hamm plays the sports agent J B Bernstein. With music by A R Rahman, this is quite a fusion production, with large chunks shot in India last year. One writer described Million Dollar Arm as a ‘Jerry Maguire/ Slumdog Millionaire combo platter’.

    ST-4aShahid to Citylights
    Last week, the National Award-winning director of Shahid, Hansal Mehta, and the national Award-winning lead actor of the same film, Rajkummar Rao, celebrated their accolades with a party in Mumbai. A number of their respective co-stars, directors and producers from previous films were present including Rao’s Kai Po Che colleagues Amrita Puri and Amit Sadh. Another of his Kai Po Che co-stars Manav Kaul, who wowed critics and audiences as Bittu Mama, was also present at the celebrations. Mehta and Rao have reunited for Citylights, an official remake of the Filipino film Metro Manila, which releases May 30. Kaul also features in this family-drama-thriller as Rao’s colleague in a security agency. Newcomer Patralekha makes her debut as Rao’s wife in Citylights, a powerful film that is sure to surprise audiences.

    Skating to the finish
    Writer-director Amole Gupte wrote the part of Arjun Harishchandra Waghmare in Hawaa Hawaai with his son Partho in mind. The father and son had earlier collaborated on the charming Stanley Ka Dabba. The summer of 2103 was the last opportunity Gupte senior had to make the film he wrote for his son, inspired after watching him train on inline skates at the young age of four years. “It was written for Partho, because I saw him grow at the skating school. This was our last window for him to play Arjun. A little later and he would’ve sprouted a moustache,” said Gupte. So once Partho decided to take on the film, he had to get back on his skates and resume training, with the same coaches who taught him as a child.

    Saqib swaps wheels
    Saqib Saleem, who made his debut in Mujhse Fraandship Karoge and then made a mark with Mere Dad Ki Maruti and his part in Bombay Talkies goes from one set of wheels to another as an inline skating coach in Hawaa Hawaai. Releasing today, Amole Gupte’s film is about an underprivileged child’s dreams of becoming a champion skater coming alive thanks to his four friends and a coach. Unlike lead actor, 13-year-old Partho Gupte, Saleem did not have to train much on skates. He was only required to do some functionary training and learn the detailed theory. Saleem hopes that filmmakers will soon start seeing him as a man and not just a teen heartthrob. His next feature is the sequel to Mere Dad Ki Maruti.

    -Udita Jhunjhunwala

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