Movie Review: MAIDAAN is one of the finest sports-based films of Bollywood

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Maidaan Review {4.0/5} & Review Rating

Star Cast: Ajay Devgn, Priyamani, Gajraj Rao

Maidaan

Director: Amit R Sharma

Maidaan Movie Synopsis:
MAIDAAN is the story of an exemplary coach. The year is 1952. During the Olympics held in Helsinki, Finland, India horribly loses a match against Yugoslavia by 10-1. Roy Choudhry (Gajraj Rao), a prominent sports journalist and the editor of The Indian Reginald, slams the Indian football team. The Football Federation of India, Kolkata, summons the team coach S A Rahim (Ajay Devgn), and asks for an explanation. Rahim reasons that the players didn’t even have proper shoes. He also insisted that he needs the freedom to choose players. The Federation head Anjan (Baharul Islam) agrees with Rahim but one of the core committee members, Shubhankar (Rudranil Ghosh), asks him to enlist more Bengali players. Rahim declines the request and insists that since it’s the Indian team, he’d get players from all over India based on merit. He then goes on a tour of the country to find the best footballers. He finally makes a fresh team, comprising Trilok Singh (Manandeep Singh), Arko Das (Prashanto Sinha), Jarnail Singh (Davinder Singh), Peter Thangraj (Tejas Ravishankar), Fortunato Franco (Madhur Mittal), Pradyut Burman (Tanmay Bhattacharjee), Arun Ghosh (Aaman Munshi), D Ethiraj (Raphael Jose), Tulsidas Balaram (Sushant Waydande), Chuni Goswami (Amartya Ray), Ram Bahadur (Amandeep Thakur), P K Banerjee (Chaitanya Sharma), Aryann Bhowmik (Neville Dsouza) and others. Rahim trains them well and in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and the 1960 Rome Olympics, they put up an impressive game. But since they face a loss, the Federation yet again pulls up Rahim. On the other hand, Roy Choudhry, who has a personal grudge against Rahim, is spreading his agenda against him and the Indian team. If that’s not enough, Rahim faces a huge personal setback at this hour. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

Maidaan Movie Story Review:
Saiwyn Quadras, Akash Chawla and Arunava Joy Sengupta’s story is fascinating and what works is that not many people are aware of this chapter of history. Saiwyn Quadras’s screenplay (additional screenplay by Aman Rai, Atul Shahi, and Amit R Sharma) is highly effective and boasts of some gripping scenes, not just on the field but also off the field. The first half, however, could have been better. Ritesh Shah’s dialogues (additional dialogues by Siddhant Mago) are powerful.

Amit R Sharma’s direction is supreme. It’s not easy to pull off a sports film especially when films like LAGAAN [2011], CHAK DE INDIA [2017], ’83 [2021] etc have set a benchmark and are etched in people’s minds. But Amit succeeds and how. He peppers the football scenes with a lot of nail-biting and thrilling moments. What also works is the politics faced by Rahim and how he tides over it. One might argue that the villain track seems a bit far-fetched but it works beautifully, especially when Rahim hits back at them in multiple places. The personal tragedy of Rahim is another track that contributes a lot to the film, emotionally. Apart from these factors, the innovative depiction of the text and opening credits are also impressive.

On the flipside, the first half is a bit weak and the length at this hour could have been shorter. The initial football matches don’t leave the desired impact and the same goes for the football training sequence before the intermission. Also, a few scenes and tournaments are not shown fully. For example, viewers get to see the first South Korea vs India match only till half-time. Of course, in the long run, it makes sense but at that moment, one gets a feeling that the makers are trying to rush through the narrative.

MAIDAAN starts with a strong and moving scene, depicting how the Indian team faces a humiliating defeat due to a lack of shoes. The entry sequence of Tulsidas Balaram of Secunderabad is sweet. Two scenes that stand out in the first half are Rahim blasting Roy Choudhry during their first meeting and Rahim’s reply to the Australian coach over the re-match. The scene where the crowd in Rome starts chanting ‘Well Played India’ is lovely. The intermission point is significant. Post-interval, the scene where Saira (Priyamani) tells Rahim to get back to football is superb. Rahim being re-elected as the sports coach is both moving and clapworthy. The same goes for the scene when Rahim returns after meeting the finance minister Morarji Desai (Zaheer Mirza). However, the film goes on a high during the 1962 Jakarta Games sequence. The last 50-55 minutes is highly captivating and takes the film to another level. The real-life players are shown in the end and it’s truly a riveting moment.

Maidaan Trailer | Ajay Devgn | Amit Sharma | Boney K | A.R. Rahman | Fresh Lime Films

Maidaan Movie Performances:
Ajay Devgn is terrific, to say the least. He has given several outstanding performances but the one in MAIDAAN will go down as one of his greatest acts. His character goes through a lot and the way he has essayed it is seen to be believed. Priyamani lends able support. Gajraj Rao and Rudranil Ghosh are superb as the antagonists while Baharul Islam is adorable. Istayak Khan (assistant coach Hari) is passable. Zaheer Mirza is okay. Paul Spurrier (Australian coach) is memorable. From the players, the ones that leave a mark are Davinder Singh, Tejas Ravishankar, Madhur Mittal, Tanmay Bhattacharjee, Sushant Waydande, Amartya Ray, Chaitanya Sharma and Aryann Bhowmik. The others who deliver fine performances are Rishabh Joshi (Rahim’s son Hakim), Vijay Maurya (Indian commentator Ramesh), Abhilash Thapliyal (Indian commentator Dev), Pacitra Sarkar (Bengal team coach Tapan Bose) and Arvinder Singh Bhati (Sondhi; who slams Indonesia).

Maidaan music and other technical aspects:
A R Rahman’s music is soulful but is not of chartbuster variety. ‘Jaane Do’, however, turns out to be highly touching and smartly inserted in a very important moment. A R Rahman’s singing is praiseworthy. The other song that works is ‘Team India Hum’. ‘Mirza’, ‘Ranga Ranga’ and ‘Dil Nahi Todenge’ don’t register. A R Rahman’s background score adds to the tension and exhilaration.

Tushar Kanti Ray’s cinematography is very good while Fyodor Lyass’s cinematography for sports scenes is outstanding. The sports scenes are shot in such a manner that viewers will get sucked into the goings-on. Shalini Sharma Chakravarty’s make-up and hair design and Kirti Kolwankar and Maria Tharakan’s costumes are authentic. Khyatee Mohan Kanchan’s production design is detailed. Redefine’s VFX is splendid. It’ll be difficult to guess for a layman that the football match scenes are filmed not in Melbourne, Rome or Jakarta but in Madh Island! Dev Rao Jadhav’s editing could have been slicker in the first half. But it gives no reason for complaint in the second half. Shahnawaz Mosani’s editing for sports scenes is razor-sharp.

Maidaan Movie Conclusion:
On the whole, MAIDAAN is one of the finest sports-based films of Bollywood that rests on captivating drama, strong emotions, clapworthy moments, and a National Award-worthy performance by Ajay Devgn. At the box office, it might take a slow start but has the potential to show a strong jump over its extended weekend due to positive word of mouth, especially in urban centres, and thus emerge victorious at the box office. Recommended!

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