Maidaan Review | The Glorious Final Hour Will Make You Overlook the Flaws of This Sports Drama

Back in 2007, when Shimit Amin’s Chak De India was released, it was the first time I experienced the theater becoming somewhat like a stadium (I wasn’t lucky enough to watch Lagaan on the big screen). There was something magical about the making of that Shah Rukh Khan starrer that everyone in the theater cheered for every goal despite knowing subconsciously that India would be ultimately the winner. I am talking about Chak De in my review of Amit Ravindernath Sharma’s Maidaan because the sports bit in this 3-hour long movie is visualized so incredibly that after Chak De India, I felt like sitting in a gallery in the last hour of this Ajay Devgn starrer.

So the film is about the iconic Indian Football team coach, Mr. Syed Abdul Rahim, aka SA Rahim. The story opens with the visuals of the Indian team losing in the Olympics with them struggling against big teams in big venues because they were playing barefoot. What we see in Maidaan is Rahim’s journey to create a world-class Indian football team and the challenges he had to face in achieving that dream.

First of all, it is not at all a perfect film, and in its entirety, I wouldn’t even place it anywhere near Chak De. And the reason for that is the flimsy writing in the drama part of the movie that happens off the field. There are two layers to this Syed Abdul Rahim biopic. One is the game and how he built that team. And the other one is the bureaucratic mess and ego politics that he had to tackle. If you look at the guys who ran the administration in Chak De, they were arrogant people. But here, the characters were more like caricatures. And the dramatization part of the story is going through a lot of melodramatic templates. In the first two hours of the film, the generic feel of the movie is extremely high.

If you look at the movie’s credits, the cinematography and edits have dedicated people for making the sports bits. The making is just brilliant when it comes to those sports portions. And I am not saying it is purely a talent of cinematographer and editor. When you see the match bits in this film, you will realize how carefully choreographed it is. From extreme wide-angle close-up shots, body-mounted close-ups, and wide shots that reveal the gameplay of the team, Amit Sharma presents the ability of that team spectacularly on the screen. The editing gives enough space for each move to make us understand the beauty of a save, tackle, or attack supported by agile passes. The last hour of the movie, which is completely dedicated to the Jakarta Asian Games is packaged so beautifully that I felt disappointed the first two hours weren’t up to that mark. The music complements the emotions beautifully, and the production design, aided by visual effects, looks authentic.

Ajay Devgn plays the role of Syed Abdul Rahim in the film, and with his typical style that has that grace and command in being a captivating leader, he fits into the zone. Gajraj Rao’s character feels more like a deliberate addition to having a villain so that, the hero can have punch dialogues. The character, by design, was a bit loud, and the makeup of his forehead was also not that convincing. Rudranil Ghosh plays another full-length character in the movie Shubhankar, and that was also a caricature-ish character. The actors who played the parts of the players looked like the original team, and their effort in giving a great shape to those sports bits is phenomenal. Priyamani, as the motivating wife of Rahim, was convincing in her portrayal of that character.

Maidaan is two hours of average cinema and one hour of exhilarating cinema. The last hour of football in the movie is so compelling that you would end the movie on an emotional high and would feel like overlooking the flaws in the drama they had tried to create in the story outside the stadium. I would say Maidaan has set a new benchmark in visualizing sports in Indian cinema.

Final Thoughts

Maidaan is two hours of average cinema and one hour of exhilarating cinema.


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.