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Maidaan Movie Review: It's a goal for Ajay Devgn; Priyamani and Gajraj Rao make their performance count

Maidaan Movie Review: Featuring Ajay Devgn, Priyamani, and Gajraj Rao in lead roles, Maidaan is based on the life history of Syed Abdul Rahim, who is regarded as the architect of modern Indian football. Scroll down to read the full review here.

Sakshi Verma Updated on: April 09, 2024 17:12 IST
Maidaan
Maidaan will release theatrically worldwide on April 11, 2024Photo:FILE IMAGE
  • Movie Name:Maidaan
  • Critics Rating: 3.5 / 5
  • Release Date: April 11, 2024
  • Director: Amit Ravindernath Sharma
  • Genre: Sports Drama

Ajay Devgn's Maidaan was first announced in 2019. The first poster featuring Ajay in blue shirt-black pants with an office bag in hand created curiosity but after several delays, the film disappeared from the calendar. I was very much waiting for the film to hit the big screen, and to my happiness, the film is totally worth the wait. The film starts with a match in 1952 where India loses a match by 1-12. This leads to a chamber in the Football Federation of India (set in West Bengal) questioning then-head coach S.A. Rahim for the loss. From the first go, you see Ajay Devgn in the perfect representation of a football coach. He keeps his elegance intact in every scene and makes you feel his love for the sport. Priyamani, who plays the supportive?wife becomes your voice in some scenes. Gajraj Rao is so so good that you'll end up hating the character and loving the actor.?

Story

Ajay Devgn's Maidaan begins with the football coach keen to choose his players without the federation's interference. He is joined by an assistant and a supportive president. At the start of the film only, the director gives a brief intro of its relevant characters, like Priyamani as the perfect wife, Gajraj Rao as the ruthless sports journalist, whose love for football is just restricted with the Bengal radius. You later see Ajay handpicking his best squad from different parts of the country and training them to be the best. Meanwhile, he has to deal with some regionalists inside the Indian Football Federation.

But Rahim, who only wants to bring laurels for the country sticks to his ethics. His strategies help the young Indian team to perform well in the 1952 and 1956 Olympics, but the team fails to reach the finals. This leads to the most heartbreaking part of the film and as an audience, you get an anecdote of what coaches and players have to deal with. After all, every battle faced is not within the playing ground. After a heartbreak just before the interval, S.A. Rahim and his family come together to fight against all the odds and still win laurels for just the country and its recognition on the world map. The film that majorly deals with Rahim's life and struggles also featured 16-20 young boys, who help him bring the golden era of Indian football.?

Direction

Amit Sharma, who made successful films like Badhaai Ho, has directed the film. In the first half, he has kept the story slow and literally spoon-fed each scene. But the second half, especially the climax sequence, is fantastic. The camera work in the football match sequences is superb, it will feel as if you are watching a live match. The filmmaker and cinematographers Tushar Kanti Ray and Anshumaan Singh should also be credited for keeping it real and vintage. The Bengal streets, furniture, horse carriage, costumes, looks, and set, everything makes you believe it is 1960s and not 2024.?

Certain scenes from Maidaan can remind you of Shah Rukh Khan's Chak De India. Like the speech before the final, a coach trying to eradicate regionalist ideologies. But Amit Sharma takes his moments to make a difference. He strikes the right cords. The dialogues of Maidaan are also on-point. Ritesh Shah should be credited for his writing. And when you have an actor like Ajay Devgn it's hard to not get swayed by the dialogue delivery.?

Acting

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Maidaan featuring Ajay Devgn in mostly every scene has a lot of him. And the actor literally carries the film on his shoulder with sheer spirit, brilliant performance, and 'those eyes chico'. In certain scenes, you would want a shed a tear for him and in the next moment you would get goosebumps with his stunning portrayal of Sayed Abdul Rahim. What less do you expect from a three-time National Award-winning actor? Priyamani has also done a good job in the role of his wife. A monologue by her after the Mirza song is just too perfect. She becomes the voice of the audience when she ignites fire into a dying flame. Rudranil Ghosh is bang on.?

Gajraj Rao has also done a good job in the role of a sports journalist. He makes his performance count. Moreover, the 'change of heart' moment a the climax seems so organic that a character that you hated all along gets a pass. Director Amit Sharma had revealed in an interview that it took him 14 months to cast 14 players. the filmmaker makes it evident why so. The actors who have played the role of football players are realistic, perfect, and reliable. You don't see just big actors emoting in front of the camera. You get to see 14-18 young boys falling, running, getting injured, and actually playing the most loved sport. Chaitnya Sharma as PK Banerjee, Davinder Singh Gill as Jarnail Singh, and Tejas Ravishankar as Peter Thangaraj were a standout for me.?

Music

There's not much to criticise when you have A.R. Rahman sitting on the composer's chair. Richa Sharma's 'Mirza' song is deep, rightly timed, and beautifully written. Manoj Muntashir could be pardoned for Adipurush's poor writing after this one. Another banger from the film, 'Team India Hain Hum' gives the perfect pace to the film. Ranga Ranga is fine but the Maidaan Anthem that too in Rahman's voice is a winning goal from the makers. The climax scene gets elevated due to the song and Ajay Devgn's presence. However, the background scores could have been better.?

Final Verdict

Our country has been known for cricket and hockey since early times, although there came a time when Indian football was called the 'Brazil of Asia'. This was possible only because of Syed Abdul Rahim and his team. Maidaan is a film about a man’s undying spirit and his rebellion from death. The film can seem a bit stretched at places. The Bengali usage can be foreign for some. Ajay Devgn's Hyderabadi accent is only limited to just saying 'Miyaan'. There are too much of cigarettes in too. Given that the filmmaker wanted to show a reason for Rahim's condition, but from the Football Federation scenes to the Hyderabad house scenes, the smoking could have been easily cut out at several places. Despite all the flaws, Maidaan is one of the finest sports films made in India. Overall, the 3 hours 1 minute movie is a fine watch and rightly deserves 3.5 stars.?The film directed by Amit Ravindernath Sharma, will hit the theatres globally on April 11, 2024.?

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