For the past one month, 21-year-old Satnam Singh Bhamara, the first Indian-born player to have been drafted into an NBA team, has been receiving updates from his friends and fellow players in USA about the documentary made on his life, One in a Billion. The New York Emmy winner, Roman Gackowski, directed the film that made its debut worldwide on Netflix and on Sunday was the first screening of the documentary in Chandigarh.
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While last month there was an euphoria over Aamir Khan-starrer Dangal based on former wrestler Mahavir Phogat, Bhamara, who is currently training with Texas Legends, Dallas Mavericks Development League team, shared his views about the documentary.
“I saw Dangal. Mahavir sir had put a lot of effort for his girls and that is commendable. The difference between the movie and this documentary is that it traces my journey in real and the struggles and time I spent in India as well as USA. When I landed in USA, I could not speak even one sentence in English. From the IMG Academy days to the NBA Draft, it shows what really happened during that time. A lot of my friends has seen the documentary in USA and I am sure people in India would also see it,” said Satnam via conference call during the screening held during the TEDx Chandigarh’s pre-event.
A resident of Ballo Ke village near Barnala, the 7’2” tall Satnam was picked up by for the IMG Academy in USA in 2010 and he was the 52nd pick in the NBA Draft by the NBA team Dallas Mavericks last year.
The documentary traces Satnam’s journey from the Ludhiana academy to his days in Florida and also features his father 7’3” tall Balbir Singh Bhamara, NBA commissioner Adam Silver, Sacramento Kings Indian-born owner Vivek Ranadiv and NBA’s senior director of international operations Troy Justice, who first spotted Satnam and Ludhiana coach Teja Singh Dhaliwal. “My father tells me that he is living his life as a youngster again through my life. The conditions and opportunities are different in my life and if he could have got the same opportunities, who knows he could also have been a good basketball player. He would always tell me that basketball will make me big some day and I should not waste time in other things. And for that, he gave me all the support. Whatever little fiances he had, he spent on my dream and that’s why I am here today,” said Satnam.
It was also an emotional moment for Balbir Singh Bhamara, who was also accompanied by Rajinder Singh, on whose insistence Satnam started training in Ludhiana.
“Satnam would always tell about his days in USA and we would hear the stories. And seeing this documentary made us realise what went on his sporting career. I remember when coach Rajinder ji came to our home in 2005, we got Satnam enrolled at Ludhiana. I would travel daily to spend time with him and give him home cooked food. When he was selected in the IMG programme and got his first size 18 sports shoe, it was perhaps the best moment in his career. We did not see his draft live, but when we saw it in the documentary, it was like reliving that moment once again,” said Balbir.
Asked who would he want to see in his and Satnam’s role if a Bollywood movie was made, Balbir Singh said: “I would want Dharmendra to play my part, as he is my favourite hero.”