The only real game in the world, I A�think, is baseball,a�? are the words of A�legendary American baseball play- er Babe Ruth. Ironically, the condi- tion that prevailed in Manipur not A�too long ago is about as real as A�things can get.
Living with con- cerns like drugs, guns, AIdS and A�civil war, the Manipuris connect A�with each other through Americaa��s A�favourite game a�� baseball. a�?This is a movie about hope, joy A�and a shared passion for the sport A�of baseball,a�? starts off Mirra Bank, A�director of The Only Real Game a��A� A�a documentary that unveils the life A�of the people through the eyes of A�the unlikely sport. When on a cul- tural visit to Manipur, producer A�Muriel (Mike) peters, a huge fan of A�baseball, chanced upon the popu- larity of the game there. A�Quite taken with the craze for A�this unlikely discipline in a coun- try where cricket is the norm, A�peters decided to film a documen- tary that focuses on this aspect of A�the troubled North Eastern state.
Back in India With Bank and a fully-equipped A�camera crew in tow,A� peters returned A�to India to start filming what A�turned out to be an emotional story A�of how the Manipuris used base- ball to keep their wits about them A�amidst the uncertainty of life. The A�game is played by a majority of the A�locals with no discrimination in A�regards to gender or age. There are A�a total of 15 teams in Imphal alone, A�of which five are all-girl squads. A�a�?What was so compelling to us A�was the mystery. We had so many A�questions. For example, how did A�this happen and why did they start A�playing it,a�? Bank says. a�?Through A�our research, we found that a few A�American soldiers were stationed A�in the state during World War II. A�And thata��s probably how the locals A�learnt it and passed it on. We were A�also able to trace two American A�soldiers, now in their 80s, who A�remember playing the sport in A�Manipur,a�? she continues.
The film, to be screened for the A�first time in Bangalore this week, A�won the title of a�?best documenta- rya�? at the 13th New York Indian A�Film Festival earlier this year. Purpose-driven peters was also instrumental in A�creating First pitch, an organisa- tion dedicated to helping locals A�play the best baseball they possibly A�can. This not-for-profit venture A�organised a coaching camp that A�was conducted by Major League A�Baseball International coaches A�Jeff Brueggemann andA� dave A�palese. The duo trained 31 Manipuri A�coaches of whom 11 were women.
First pitch has roped in Spalding A�Baseball, MLBI, The College of A�New Jersey and Sundaram Tagore A�Gallery to donate equipment to the A�baseball-loving Manipuris. A�November 7.At Bangalore A�International Centre, Domlur.