Film Review: Ajay Devgn’s Maidaan makes for a decent one-time watch

Movie rating: ★★★

Maidaan, directed by Amit Ravindernath Sharma, is a biographical sports drama that celebrates the golden era of Indian football in the 1950s and 60s. The film focuses on Syed Abdul Rahim, the coach who dedicated his life to forming a winning team and making Indian football shine on the global map. Ajay Devgn delivers a powerful performance as coach Rahim, who, after facing an heartbreaking loss at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Finland, is determined to make Indian football shine internationally.

The film’s portrayal of football matches, training camps, and green room scenes is both exhilarating and engaging. Despite the comparisons drawn to Chak De! India and MS Dhoni: The Untold Story, Maidaan manages to carve its unique identity. The film’s runtime of 3 hours 1 minute might be questionable, but it justifies itself when viewed as a comprehensive account of the events leading up to India’s win at the 1962 Asian Games.

Maidaan chronicles the life of coach Rahim, who, after facing an embarrassing defeat at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Finland, is determined to make Indian football shine internationally. He requests the federation to let him select his team and takes complete responsibility for their performance. Rahim travels across the country to handpick the best boys and trains them on legwork and teamwork. Under his mentorship, the Indian Football Team earns the monikers ‘Brazil of Asia’ and ‘Team of comebacks’. Rahim’s journey is not just about football; it’s about his dedication, perseverance, and the sacrifices he makes to maintain his composure amidst internal politics, pressure from the media, political unrest, and personal setbacks.

The film’s supporting cast, including Gajraj Rao and Rudranil Ghosh, essay impressive roles of vindictive sports journalist and politicians, making their characters detestable yet compelling. The fresh faces portraying football players put in commendable performances, making the game look as real as possible.

Maidaan offers a visual sports spectacle with live matches that look authentic and real. The camera work is brilliant, especially during the tense moments leading up to the Asian Games. The film’s background score, composed by A.R. Rahman, adds to the thrill and excitement of the matches.

In conclusion, Maidaan is a must-watch for sports enthusiasts and those who enjoy a heartfelt drama. It’s a testament to the power of perseverance, teamwork, and the indomitable human spirit. The film’s message of unity and the importance of sports in shaping a nation’s identity is timely and relevant, making Maidaan a significant contribution to Indian cinema.

Overall Rating: 3/5

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