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Film Review: Maidaan [Field]

Film Review: Maidaan [Field]

Starring: Ajay Devgn, Priyamani, Gajaraj Rao, Rudranil Ghosh, Devyansh Tapuriah, Baharul Islam

Director: Amit Ravindernath Sharma

For audiences still basking in the warm after-glow of India’s phenomenal T20 World Cup cricket win, this new biopic now streaming on Amazon Prime will come as a welcome brush with another historic, and perhaps forgotten, sporting victory.

Syed Abdul Rahim (Devgn) has one enduring dream and vision as the coach of a newly-independent India’s football team – to see his players prove their mettle on the field and lift a major championship trophy. In this mission, the odds are heavily stacked against him in a parochial and deeply divided selection committee and nay-sayers refusing to back his conviction that there is an abundance of talent out there in the small towns and villages of India to produce a world-beating footie team.

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Rahim, with the support of his long-suffering wife Saira (Priyamani) and a sympathetic football selection board member, perseveres to cobble together a dynamic set of young players from every corner of the country to create “Team India”. What ensues a set of false starts and narrow defeats and Rahim’s dream seems to have all but faded away by the time he is handed a fatal lung cancer diagnosis. Will Team India manage to overcome their many hurdles and fulfil their dedicated coach’s dream to lift the coveted gold medal in the Asian Games, before he succumbs to cancer?

This inspiring true story that captures the ups and downs of what is referred to as the “golden age” of Indian football deserves far more praise and appreciation than it has attracted since it hit cinemas earlier this year. Now with its recent streaming release, it should hopefully get more of the attention it deserves.

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While Devgn is impressive in the role of a cancer-stricken Rahim, it is some of the lesser-known actors portraying real-life football legends that shine in this film. Gajaraj Rao as the conceited columnist is superb, as usual, and so is Priyamani in her short but impactful role.

However, the true stars of this biopic are the surviving footballers from Rahim’s winning squad who make a cameo at the end as the credits roll. It is sure to tug at the heartstrings of audiences at the thought of the many decades that have since elapsed for Indian football to make its mark on the world stage.

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