Movie Review: Maidaan

 AR Rahim ( Ajay Devgan) is the coach of the Indian Football team, which holds meetings at Calcutta , at the Football Federation HQ.

There he is supported at first by Anjan Das the President, to revamp the losing Indian team. Once he puts together a team gathered painstakingly from different parts of India, and even wins international acclaim, he is cowed down by Subhankar Sengupta, the new head of the federation, who sacks him.  He is in cahoots with a powerful and vengeful sports editor ( Gajanan Rao).

In his weakest phase, Rahim discovers he has a terminal illness and goes back home to Hyderabad to be with his wife Saira ( Priyamani) and family. 

In the meantime, the Indian team is losing face badly all over.  Unbable to watch Rahim wither away in depression, Saira inspires him to not give up without a fight and instead of waiting for death, give the sport he loves a fighting chance and try to coach again.

Does Rahim succeed?

The film is made on a grand scale which is both impressive and engages with grand visuals especially of the grand Calcitta buildings and the various matches in India and abroad.

Being a sports drama, the matches are highlights of the film and grab attention, keeping the suspense alive, taking you back in time to the 50's and 60's India and abroad, with  appropriate props, crowds, junior artistes and costumes, all invoking a past era.

But at times the realistic touch seems overdone, in the many federation meetings for instance, when the actors seem like  cariacatures with the exaggeratrd Bengali flourish, stereotyping with a forced local accent to highlight the local flavour.

Dialogues too could have been better written.

The exchanges between Rahim and his team however, seem inspiring.

The casting of these federation actors too could have been better. Many of them seem to be hamming their  way through when in fact they make important decisions in the story. Gajaraj Rao seemes lost in his costume, wig and glasses and fine actor looks a loss at finding his groove in the film.  

The way  actors are smoking pipes, cigarettes or cigars all through the movie is distracting and becomes a tad too much to watch after a while,  seeming more like its been added for effect. 

The music of AR Rahman is disappointing.  The camerawork however, is a major highlight of the film. 

Priyamani shines in every scene she appears in and in one emotionally charged moment, she pulls at the heartstrings with her superb performance, proving her mettle yet again. More roles should be written for this fine actor. 

Ajay Devgan gives a measured performance once again and lives the character of Rahim.

The actors who play the team members bring their characters to life with a spirited act and are among the highlights of the film. 

Overall,  Maidaan is predictable sports drama but the makers deserve kudos for showcasing  the struggles behind the  victories of football in India. With spirited performances and rivetting matches, it soars  to a gripping finale in the second half. 

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