Thursday, June 6, 2024

Maidaan-- More than a Sports Story

"Maidaan" (2024) starts with a lop sided soccer game with heavy rain during a played at the Helsinki Olympics.  Soon we see a board of directors talk of firing the coach, Syed Abdul Rahim. They feel he is responsible for the disaster.  He responded if he is responsible he should have been responsible for selecting the players.  The players needed to have shoes, play 90 minute games and be chosen not for connections.  

He is soon confronted by a pompous newspaper publisher who mocks the results.  Syed asks if the critic is familiar with rock n roll and after a stunned look points out that Elvis Presley answered his critics that they shouldn't criticize what they don't understand.  This blunt talk offends the publisher who carries on a vendetta for several years.

A good part of the movie shows us a typical coach who tries to instill a feeling of being part of a team.  In India there were some outstanding talent that were more interested in putting on a show.  He advised talented players to be successful they need to focus.  On one segment he demonstrated the critical importance of passing

He is on the road most of the time, but he does have a loving family.  He encourages his wife to speak English, partly by giving her books.  His son has an interest in soccer.  

I find smoking in films distasteful, but here they played it differently.  Syed was a smoker, but over time he went from a slight cough to eventually painfully struggling with lung cancer.   See

We see numerous games that are well shot.  Syed has many ups and downs and even gets fired (unfairly).  At one point the Indian government cuts off funds for a trip to the Asian Games in Jakarta, but Syed is able to negotiate a compromise.   While there, they are attacked by a mob and only rescued by the military.  At the end of the film we are shown the actual players at the time plus up dated videos of the same players today (two in wheelchairs). 

A political note is that Israel and Taiwan were not allowed to compete.

This is a big budget film with money well spent.  It started in 2019, but was interrupted by the Covid pandemic.  The label "sports film" does not nearly do justice to its scope.  It looks to me like one of my top films for the year and here are a few of the personnel who made it such a memorable film.

Amit Ravindernath Sharma directed the film.  Before films he was well established as commercials director. Between 2005-2015 he directed 900 advertisements winning some awards for socially appropriate ads.  He has 6 credits as a director and 6 as a producer including for "Badhaai Ho" (2018).   See

Akash Chawla was part of the writing team as well as a producer.  He has 11 credits as producer and 3 for writing including "Rustom" (2016) and "Secret Superstar" (2017).

Saiwyn Quadras was another member of the writing team.  He has 4 credits as a writer and 1 as a producer including "Mary Kom" (2014) and "Neerja" (2016).

Boney Kapoor was a key producer.  He has 34 credits as a producer including "Mr India" (1967) and "Mom" (2017).  He also obtained the Tamil and Telgu rights for a favorite film of mine, "Pink" (2016) and did produce them.  see

A.R. Rahman provided the music.  He had done commercial jingles when Mani Ratman invited him to write for a film "Roja" (1992).  I had not realized that Rahman wrote for the Tamil market, but has expanded to Bollywood,  American, English etc.  With the encouragement of  Andrew Lloyd Webber he wrote for a stage musical, "Bombay Dreams" that had long runs in both London and New York.  He has 201 composing credits and 81 for the music department (often backup singer) including "Bombay" (1995), "Fire" (1996), "Lagaan Once Upon a Time in India" (2001), "Swades" (2004), "Water" (2005), "Rang de Basanti" (2006), "Ghajini" (2008), "Slum Dog Millionaire" (2008), "Jab Tak Hai Jaan" (2012), "Highway" (2014), "100 Foot Journey" (2014) and "Tamasha" (2015).    Check  Elsewhere Rahman had commented that he often gives producers a difficult time in order to get what he wants and feels the film benefits. 

 Tushar Kanti Ray was the cinematographer.  He has 17 credits for cinematography including "The Japanese Wife" (2010), "Shor in the City" (2010), "Dhobi Ghat" ((2010), "Midnight's Children" (2012), "D-Day" (2013), "Khoobsurat" (2014),"Te3n" (2016) and "Lucknow Central" (2017).

Dev Rao Jadhav was an editor  He has 17 editing credits including "Badhaai Ho" (2018), "Jaadugar" (2022) and "Kaali Paani" (2023).  See

Shahnawaz Mosani is listed as sports editor which probably means he was brought in to handle the game action which were enjoyably well done.  He has 9 credits for visual effects and 4 for editing including "Don 2" (2011), "Talash" (2012), Barfi" (2012) "Ek Aaur Main Ekk" (2012) and "Agneepath" (2012).

Vaibhav Vishant was the casting director.  He formed a company called Anti-Casting with the idea that type casting for films, web series and tv. commercials.  He has 41 casting credits and 39 casting department credits including "Haider" (2014), "PK" (2014), "Mimi" (2011), "Shiddat? (2021), "Jaadagar" (2022), "Kaali Panni" (2023) and "Maamia Legal Hai" (2024).  See

Ajay Devgn played Syed Abdul Rahim   His original family name was Devgan, but he was advised to change to Devgn.  He has been very busy as an actor (136 credits), but also as a producer  (25 credits) and director (3 credits).  His film credits include "The Legend of Bhagat Singh "(2002), "Raincoat" (2004),  "Once Upon a Time in Mumbai" (2010), "Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge" (2010), "Shivaay" (2016), "The Family Man" (2016), "Gangubai Kathiawadi" (2022), "Maamia Legal Hai" (2022), "RRR" (2022)  see

Priyamani played the wife who is supportive, but expresses her concern for the way he treats their son.  She has 67 film credits in Telegu, Malayalam and Hindi including "Grandmaster" (2012),"Virata Parvam (2022). and "The Family Man" (2016)   see

 Gajraj Rao played the obnoxious publisher.  As a child his parents worked for the Indian Railways and moved a lot allowing him to mimic different dialects.  He has 34 acting credits including for "Bandit Queen" (1994), "Dil Se" (1998)"No Smoking" (2007), "Aamir" (2008), "Rangoon" (2017), "Badhaii Ho" (2018) and "Made in China" (2019).

Purnendu Bhattacharya played the doctor who have the lung cancer diagnosis.  He has 33 acting credits including "No One Killed Jessica" (2011), "Thappad" (2020), "Jaadagar" (2022) and "Chor Nikal Ke Bhaga" (2023).  See

This story clocks in at just over 3 hours, and I recommend you watch the end credits.  Available subtitled on Prime.

 I have bolded the first mention of films I have seen.  Note that the links are to noteworthy films.

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