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Maidaan review – Ajay Devgn takes a path already taken while delivering a crescendo that does touch the height it is supposed to

Maidaan is not entirely fresh, neither is it a game changer, but there is a certain merit to it that makes it worth your time. 

Maidaan review – Ajay Devgn takes a path already taken while delivering a crescendo that does touch the height it is supposed to
Maidaan Review Out

Last Updated: 03.06 AM, Apr 09, 2024


Based on the glorious life of Syed Abdul Rahim, Maidaan tells the story of the time he lost the Olympics for the first time when his team was playing football barefoot. It takes us on a journey where players were ordered to wear shoes and play, to a time where he decides to build a team from not just Bengal but all over India, and finally goes on to win at the Asian Games after many personal and professional battles.

Maidaan: Review

The last time I remember a sports drama that brought me to the edge of my seat and had a lot to offer other than the border-level execution was Nagaraj Manjule’s splendid Jhund. A movie that was about the struggles of the marginalized to make it in the game. The blueprint of that movie was so fresh that it broke free from all the shackles of the genre, and the filmmaker could take the risk of dedicating a massive chunk of runtime to a match. Jhund never bothered whether the boys went to the finals of the cup or not, for it, the boys even flying for the first time on the government’s money was as big an achievement as winning. But does Maidaan, starring Ajay Devgn, manage to recreate that magic? 


It is not easy to work on sports dramas. The genre has its own limitations, and for someone who doesn’t have a subject that allows them to break or mold the blueprint, there are only a few structures they can follow. Add to it that this here is a real-life story that makes the chances of having various paths to divulge even more difficult. Maidaan is helmed by Amit Ravindernath Sharma (who last directed a short in Lust Stories 2 starring Kajol) and the story is by Akash Chawla, Arunava Joy Sengupta, with screenplay from Saiwyn Quadras, Aman Rai, and Atul Shahi, and dialogues by Sidhant Mago and Ritesh Shah.

Together this team is not attempting to serve you anything unconventional. Rather they chose stereotypical things but most of them, if not all, work in their favor. Like there is a coach who is about to be hit by a tragedy in personal and professional space, there is a team that will have a power dynamic in place, there will be a locker room speech where the coach is supposed to motivate the team members. And all of it exists in Maidaan. But what works is how Amit Ravindernath Sharma laces all of this with calm and good space.

Unlike many other biopics and movies in general, Amit and his team don’t want to rush at all. They want almost every aspect of their screenplay to breathe and have a life, even if this means the movie becomes a three-hour affair. there is so much Indian history involved in the film but Amit never tries to simplify it which is a very good part. But Maidaan never feels like it is stretched or three hours are a lot, and that in itself is an achievement. It is not an easy job to build a worthy crescendo and maintain it until the final minute of the game is played. The filmmaker makes sure you stick to it and that it is interesting and doesn’t look choreographed. The game plan in Maidaan helps the movie to have a very helpful layer in itself.

What doesn’t help the movie is how it chooses to ignore the 11 boys it introduces. There is a stellar Chaitanya Sharma and others, but none get a layer other than that of being a player in the India football team. We never go to their homes, or have a conversation with them. Chak De...! also worked because the ladies in the film had stories to attach to their rage, of the determination to be a hockey player. But Maidaan neither has such obstacles nor does it have a window. There is also a stellar Priyamani who is brilliant every time Syed goes home, and we get to see it. But her existence is only around him and never without him.

Ajay Devgn, as an actor, has put a lot of effort into playing this part. There is a visible change in approach towards this character than what he does for the rest which all look the same. As Syed Abdul Rahim, tries to stay as close as to the mannerisms and appropriate body movements. But the fact that many of us haven’t seen Syed Abdul Rahim in action gives the star an upper hand. But also without it, this has to be one of the best Devgn performances in a very long while.

Priyamani is brilliant in what she is given. Chaitanya Sharma has the spark in his eyes but doesn’t get much of the screentime to show it. Gajraj Rao as the head of a newspaper actually gets the most half-baked character from Maidaan. He enters the film hating Syed Abdul Rahim and his boys and continues making life hell for them. But in the finals, he undergoes a sudden change of heart, and it all feels so random.

The camerawork in Maidaan is commendable as it tries to be fresh and even succeeds in many ways. Coming to the part that was highlighted throughout the promotions, was AR Rahman’s music. The music in Maidaan doesn’t take the movie anywhere and is not very fresh. We have seen Rahman do this before, so it doesn’t land like it should. They are good songs but not the best Ghagra you expect from the maestro. I am yet to figure out if the song placement by the end turned out to be a good idea or not. It seemed weird, but there was also something about it that was interesting.

Maidaan Review: Final Verdict

Maidaan is a movie that is not path-breaking or a new adventure. It is happy with being on a path that is already explored but also delivers a story that does manage to bring you to the edge of your seat.

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