Maidaan Review: Ajay Devgn strikes a goal in this heroic sports biopic

Film: Maidaan

Cast: Ajay Devgn, Gajraj Rao, Priya Mani and ensemble

Director: Amit Ravindernath Sharma

Rating: 3.5 Moons

"Aaj maidaan mein utarna gyarah lekin dikhna ek," says Syed Abdul Rahim, the coach of the Indian football team that qualified for the Olympics in the '50s. In Maidaan, Ajay Devgn brings back the lesser-known yet poignant tale of the glorious years of Indian football. Though lost in time, the contribution hasn't been forgotten by football enthusiasts. Directed by Amit Ravindernath Sharma, Maidaan is an inspiring, rousing, and emotional tribute to Syed Abdul Rahim. 

Syed Abdul Rahim (Ajay Devgn) is pressurised to prove the worth of Indian football. He's the chief of the football association. He is tasked with the responsibility to build a team and take the country to the next level. Rahim goes against the odds (including antagonist Gajraj Rao) to emerge victorious. Will he be able to position India high on the global sports platform? 

Maidaan has the classic Amit Sharma touch. Sticking to the core of football and the journey of Rahim along with the players, the director builds a crescendo that grows on you gradually and emotionally. With a duration of 3 hours and 1 minute, Maidaan enjoys the classic 'underdogs become heroes' narrative and it works majorly. The feel-good flavour of the story remains fresh. The film offers a completely new perspective and will make you cheer for the real-life unsung stars of the film. Staying true to the purpose behind making this sports biopic, Amit honours the players who were/are alive when the shoot was in progress.

Maidaan doesn't spring any new surprises. The template is the same as the usual sports biopics. However, what sets it apart is the final 45 minutes. The drama peaks, emotions heighten and the cinematography gets breathtaking. Maidaan has the best football choreography in recent times. The front camera angles on the field are stunning and it's not an easy job to achieve. The film has gone through a tough journey and the continuity that's maintained is commendable. 

Ajay Devgn's stoic expressions and deep eyes play an important role in adding weight to Maidaan. He carries the film on his shoulder ably and delivers a memorable performance. The ensemble cast is incredible. They pull off tricky sequences with conviction. Gajraj Rao and Priya Mani are underutilised. The former has redemption but no foundation. The latter gets no graph at all. Maidaan is a long film but the last hour is worth the wait and patience.