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Ode to late football coach S A Rahim nets a winner Cast: Ajay Devgn, Gajraj Rao, Priyamani, Rudranil Ghosh, Baharul Islam, Istayak Khan ...

Ode to late football coach S A Rahim nets a winner

Cast: Ajay Devgn, Gajraj Rao, Priyamani, Rudranil Ghosh, Baharul Islam, Istayak Khan

Rating: 4*

Lots of sports films have been made in Bollywood especially cricket, snooker, and hockey which have all met with applause. Now director Amit Ravindernat Sharma (Badhaai Ho) fills in nail-biters and thrills in the football drama Maidaan. Inspired by the true events of India’s finest football coach, the late SA Rahim, the character is enacted wonderfully by an underplaying Ajay Devgn who nails it as always with his performance.

Yes, a few scenes could have been explained well but one may overlook them. The length (181 minutes) could have been trimmed especially in the first half. The political angle and the jealousy of the members of the football federation and the top sports journalist make it an even better viewing experience. Plus, there are a lot of clap-worthy dialogues too. 


The film starts with a riveting football scene where India faces a humiliating defeat against Yugoslavia in 1952 at the Helsinki Olympics because of a lack of shoes. Indian players were barefoot on the field! On returning a few of the members, especially Subhankar Sengupta (an excellent Rudrani Ghosh) demand the ouster of the coach Rahim (Devgn) which is fuelled even more by the top sports journalist Roy Choudhary (a superb Gajraj Rao). But Rahim is backed by the president of the football federation Anjan da (an adorable Baharul Islam) and he gets to choose ‘his team’ from all parts of the country and not just Bengal. He forms the team comprising Jarnail Singh, Arko Das, Trilok Singh, Fortunato Franco, Peter Thangaraj, Tulsidas Balram, P K Banerjee, Chuni Goswami, Ram Bahadur, Aryan Bhowmick, Arun Ghosh, D Ethiraj.

The team puts up a superb display at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and the Rome Olympics in 1960, but they suffer a face loss due to which the federation demands the resignation of Rahim who is ultimately sacked. During this time Rahim’s health deteriorates which takes a toll on him and on top of it Roy Choudhry spreads false rumours against Rahim due to his personal grudge. But his wife Saira (a lovely and dependable Priyamani) and Anjan stand by him during this crisis.


The supporting cast has done superbly, especially Chaitanya Sharma, Amartya Ray, Davinder Singh, Tejas Ravishankar & Rishabh Joshi (Rashim’s son Hakim).


Music by AR Rahman is not up to the mark at all which is a huge letdown. The football scenes are shot brilliantly and are seeti-maar.


This football drama is one of the best sports films that has come out and deserves to be seen and applauded by all as this chapter in sport’s history is not known to many. Ajay adds another feather to his cap with his realistic portrayal of Rahim. The end credits have the original players' photos alongside the actors playing them.


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