Calabasas Films + Media Sets Feature-length documentary on tennis and entertainment star Vijay Amritraj

Calabasas Films + Media and Sterling Road Films are collaborating to produce the first official documentary on tennis legend Vijay Amritraj, considered the greatest Indian and Asian player of all time.

Directed by Oscar-nominated director Sami Khan (“St. Louis Superman,” “The Last Out”), the feature film is being produced by Calabasas Films + Media partners Kapil Mahendra and Paul Beahan, along with Prakash Amritraj and Dhaval Desai.

The documentary charts Amritraj’s rise from his childhood in India, overcoming serious health problems, to his emergence as one of the most exciting players of the 1970s and 1980s – beating Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe in their prime.

Along with elder brother Anand, Vijay Amritraj was an integral part of the Indian team that boycotted the 1974 Davis Cup finals against South Africa to protest apartheid. That boycott was instrumental in isolating the apartheid government in the sporting world.

In the mid-1970s, Vijay, Anand and younger brother Ashok moved to Southern California, where they became key, early members of World Team Tennis—the all-star league co-founded by Billie Jean King. Amritraj played for Jerry Buss’ colorful Los Angeles Strings team before Buss took over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Amritraj earned a legendary reputation over the years for his style, elegance and sporty flair. But he was not without criticism. Despite being rated as one of the best young players of the 1970s, along with Borg and Connors, Amritraj never won a major championship. Some critics claimed he was “too good-looking to win”. In a culture that often celebrates ruthless victory over sporting style, the documentary explores the toll of it all.

After tennis, Amritraj would go on to have, no doubt, an even greater impact on society. Amritraj was one of the most vocal global athletes fighting injustice, culminating in a 1988 speech at the United Nations denouncing apartheid. The documentary will explore how he used his platform for a greater good: in the name of political activism to further India’s place at the global table, fight for the less fortunate starting with his efforts humanitarian work as a messenger of peace for the United Nations, as well as his great philanthropic works.

Amritraj became one of the first Indians on American television and shook up the Hollywood entertainment space by becoming one of the first South Asian actors to have roles written specifically for him — the 1983 James Bond vehicle Octopussy, ” Star Trek IV: The Voyage”. Home” and his 1986 TV show, “What A Country”.

Audiences can expect a stranger-than-fiction tale of passion and hope and keeping family close. With on-screen testimonies from some of the brightest tennis stars, former opponents and some Hollywood legends, the film will take the unforgettable journey of Vijay Amritraj’s life.

Director Sami Khan said, “Vijay Amritraj was a legend and inspiration in my home growing up and it’s an absolute honor to help tell his story. Amritraj was a pioneer for South Asian athletes and I know our film will have resonates urgently today. Kapil, Paul, Prakash and Dhaval are wonderful partners in this journey and I look forward to sharing Amritraj’s tale with audiences soon.”

“To tell Vijay’s story after so many years of charity work together is really exciting,” said Kapil Mahendra. “The anecdotes he shares about his life on and off the field and his encounters and relationships with sports and Hollywood legends are extraordinary.”

Prakash Amritraj added, “For so long people of color have been told ‘you can’t’ and ‘you won’t,’ Vijay has always been a symbol of ‘I can’ and ‘I will.’ And he did it by carrying God in his heart, and his family and India on his back. He has been my best example of what it means to be a man and a hero. It is a dream to bring his story to the screen with Calabasas Films and the brilliant Sami Khan at the helm.”

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