Rob Miller, Chris Anderson, Andy Ansah... while these names might not ring a bell immediately, it would be wise to file them away for further use. For these three men can be credited with kickstarting the latest Bollywood trend of having a sports choreographer on board.
When Rob Miller first spoke to Chak De! India director Shimit Amin, little did he know that he would end up coaching a team that would go on to create Indian celluloid history. "I was super intrigued when I was first called and instantly thought we could add value to the project. I have to admit, though, that I also thought this is probably another one of those project calls that sounds great but may be too good to be true. A few months later, I got the script. And realised that Chak De was not going to be the traditional Hindi film," says the movie's sports action director.
When Anil Sharma decided to make Apne , he knew nothing about boxing. Today, he talks about the sport like a pro. "I wanted to get the basics right. And boxing is not cricket — a sport played in every India galli. There was no debate about getting in a professional to help the Deols throw the right punches — it had to be done. After much searching, I decided on Chris Anderson."
The heavyweight boxer trained the Deols for long hours before he pronounced them fit to shoot. "A boxing match has to be shot in one go. And to fight with the correct technique for one whole minute is no mean feat," says Sharma, who believes that being technically correct is of utmost importance in a sports movie.
An emotion shared by Goal director Vivek Agnihotri. "Today, Hindi movies are watched by a global audience. There is no way we can go wrong with the tech specs of a sports movie. Goal has some thrilling football scenes and I want it to be very real with quality sequences. Andy Ansah is one of the most respected football consultants in the world, who has shot with the likes of Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, David Beckham and Wayne Rooney. He has helped give my movie the stamp of authenticity it needs," he says.
LA-based Miller heads ReelSports, Hollywood’s premier team for sports action. What was his India experience like? "It was a little difficult initially because I wasn’t able to bring any of my standard team with me, so it took a little while for people to come up to speed on my way and for me to adapt to the Indian style of filmmaking. By the time we got to Australia we were melding styles to come up with our own hybrid that worked for this film," he says.
Miller is all praise for the team, though. "All the girls on the team were such a great group, full of enthusiasm. I really felt at times like I was back coaching for real and they were my team.”