Los Angeles, July 9 Former Indian tennis player and actor Vijay Amritraj, who was a part of the Indian team which reached the final of Davis Cup in 1974 and 1987, is now a subject of a documentary directed by Oscar nominated filmmaker Sami Khan, who had earlier directed St. Louis Superman, reports Deadline.
The untitled feature is being executive produced by Calabasas partners Kapil Mahendra and Paul Beahan, apart from Prakash Amritraj and Dhaval Desai.
Deadline’ notes that the documentary will chart Amritraj’s rise from his childhood in India, overcoming serious health issues, to his emergence as a top player in the 1970s and 1980s, when he defeated Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe in their primes.
Sami Khan said in a statement, accessed by Deadline’, “Vijay Amritraj was a legend and inspiration in my house growing up and it’s an absolute honour to help tell his story. Amritraj was a pioneer among South Asian athletes, and I know our film will have urgent resonance today. Kapil, Paul, Prakash, and Dhaval are amazing partners on this journey, and I can’t wait to share Amritraj’s tale with audiences soon.”
Along with elder brother Anand, Vijay Amritraj, who was awarded the Padma Shri in 1983, was an integral part of the Indian team that boycotted the 1974 Davis Cup final against South Africa to protest Apartheid.
Vijay is also the elder brother of Ashok Amritraj (himself a former tennis player), the long-time film producer and CEO of Hyde Park Entertainment.
Deadline’ notes that in the mid 1970s, Vijay, Anand and Ashok moved to southern California where they became early members of World Team Tennis – the all-star league co-founded by Billie Jean King. Amritraj played for Jerry Buss’ colourful Los Angeles Strings before Buss took over the Lakers.
Amritraj was well-known for his style, elegance and sportsmanship. But some thought he could have gone even further in the sport. He never won a major championship. Some claimed he was “too nice to win”. In a culture that often celebrates ruthless victory over sportsmanship, the documentary explores the toll that takes on athletes.
After tennis, Amritraj would continue to denounce Apartheid and the film will explore how he used his platform for good.
He also became one of the first Indians on American TV, scoring roles in the 1983 James Bond movie Octopussy’, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home’ and Viacom’s US sitcom What A Country!’
He was also a regular character in the NBC TV series The Last Precinct’ and a guest star on shows including Hart To Hart’.