Behind The Scenes

Behind E:60’s “Mumbai Golf”

Barely 48 hours after The Masters ends, ESPN’s primetime newsmagazine E:60 will take viewers to a different kind of golf competition. In this contest, caddies of an upscale golf course make their own clubs from wrought iron and play on a makeshift course winding through the unpaved streets and slums of Mumbai, India.

The unique story of caddie Anil Mane and his dream to someday become a pro golfer captures the dichotomy between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ in modern India. Narrated by Mane’s sponsor and benefactor Ashish Kacholia, this human story represents one of the hallmarks of E:60, which won two Sports Emmys in 2010 for outstanding journalism and outstanding long feature.

E:60 feature producer Yaron Deskalo discussed the making of “Mumbai Golf” with ESPN Front Row.

Front Row: How did you find this story?
Deskalo: We found out about the story through a great post-production editor at ESPN, Jason Sanchez, who spotted an award-winning photo essay of children playing golf in the streets of India.

Front Row: What problems did you have filming it?
Deskalo: Anytime you produce an international story, you live and die by the ability of your “fixer.” Fortunately, we had a great one in Ammu Kannampilly, who worked for ABC during the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai and was very familiar with the city, as well as who to talk to in order to get things done.

Front Row: What was your takeaway from this experience?
Deskalo: I’ve been fortunate enough to visit a number of countries in my role as an E:60 producer. Last March, I was in Liberia and found the experience humbling. The subjects of our story in Liberia were quite disconnected from the West, mostly unaware of technical advances like the Internet, Facebook, or Google.

In India, they were quite cognizant of the West. They know of Tiger Woods, Nike, Titleist, and Barack Obama. But what was still shocking in a country of 1.2 billion was that they were still so far behind when it came to public works. And [the caddie] lived in a 10-by-10 shack against the wall bordering the golf club where he caddied. No bathroom facilities, no running water. One room, one mattress. But he had a cell phone, access to the internet, and cable TV. Interesting stark contrast in how they live versus what they have.

Front Row: Why use Ashish Kacholia to narrate the story?
Deskalo: He is Anil’s [the caddie’s] sponsor. Ashish is a member of the golf club, a venture capitalist and a philanthropist. What struck me about India was the disparity between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ … Ashish saw talent in Anil, had the means to help him, and offered to sponsor him. We could have told that story through panels, a reporter, or an outside voice, but I thought telling the story from Ashish’s perspective about the man he is trying to help would be a different way of communicating the story to an audience that is likely unfamiliar with India.

“Mumbai Golf” will air Tuesday, April 12, at 7 p.m. ET, in one of the first of five original, weekly E:60 episodes for spring 2011.

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