Maidaan: An Experience Worthy  Of Our Collective Love  & Respect


Maidaan: An Experience Worthy  Of Our Collective Love  & Respect

Rating: ****

With Maidaan, Amit Ravinder Sharma proves Badhaai Ho was no fluke. A small film with a  big heart, Badhaai Ho  was  a trendsetter. Maidaan is  an even braver work of art ,more deserving of our collective reverence. It  dives into the  life of a  man Syed Abdul Rahim whose dedication and passion and  loyalty toward footballer   brought India two gold medals in 1951 Asian Games and 1962 Asian Games.

It is  so profoundly gratifying to see our cinema  celebrating a real hero rather than  scummy  gangsters and  politicians  who have contributed  nothing  to our  nation’s   stature.Maidaan brings us  vivid glimpses  into the life of Syed Abdul Rahim.Ajay Devgan’s quietly intense  performance  enriches the  supple storytelling manifold.

Maidaan is everything that  the cinematic  experience  should be but seldom is:   exhilarating, gladdening  and motivating.Most important of all,you come  away from the  film a slightly  different person; perhaps  a  little more kind , tolerant, generous and  compassionate than before.

 Hardly other film in any Indian language in recent times  has exercised such  a steep reformative  impulse on the  audience. Amit Sharma, whose wonderful Badhaai Ho had instantly placed  him among the foremost directorial voices of the post-Bhansali generation,has achieved an unprecedented  scale of  expertise, weaving a borderline predictable  story  of the underdogs’ victory,  into a peerless work of art which never loses its equipoise even during  moments of  exacerbated drama.

The  sheer  task of putting so many  international football matches on  the  screen with  authentic  players  from all across the world , boggles the mind.The  Indian footballers  are  not just football players, they are  also actors, and they actually resemble the original  players!I won’t insult   the  footballerers-actors by  singling any of them  out . Suffice to say that you forget them as  individuals  and  watch them  as a team. Or as  Rahim Saab puts it, not  ‘Ek’ but a team.

 How did Amit Sharma do it and more importantly, how  did he manage to pull  it off  with such seamless expertise? Like the conductor of  an unrehearsed  orchestra, Amit  gives the characters  ample room to  grow  of  their own will, organically from the real-life space.

The  direction is remarkably  accommodating ,sliding into sticky situations silently rather than taking noisy control of them.A large  amount of the credit for making Maidaan the masterpiece that it is,  goes to  its lead.Ajay Devgan  as the legendary football coach, Syed Abdul Rahim—Rahim Saab to one  and all  including his  quietly supportive wife  played by the unerringly lovely Priyamani—defines that  reined-in energy which makes a successful sportsman a  capable teacher .

  Devgan’s  Rahim is  a footballer  who  is all for reform. He has the patience to wait it out.And even when the odds are heavily weighed against him, this man won’t buckle under.Devgan plays the  wise stubborn  coach with  a casual grace and  determination. Devgan is  better as Syed  Abdul Rahim than he  was as Bhagat Singh. And that’s saying a lot!

Priyamani makes a deep impression in a minuscule  role. But Gajraj Rao’s villainous  machinations  to bring Rahim Saab down , appear somewhat caricatural. This seems to be the only flaw in an otherwise-fine fabric.

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