Maidaan is biopic on Hyderabad’s legendary football coach Rahim; will release on June 23


Syed Abdul Rahim, India’s most successful football coach, never received any recognition or reward from the government of India. From his early days he spotted talented boys on the football fields of Hyderabad, trained them and took them to play for Indian tricolour. Many of them rose to dizzying heights. What motivated him was his passion and dedication. Under his guidance India finished fourth in the Melbourne Olympics and won the gold medal in the Asian Games of 1962 beating Japan and Korea. But sadly his great contribution to Indian football was never given the recognition that it deserved.

Although he ushered in the Golden Era of Indian football, he did not get any awards. He was one of the most sought after persons who did not care to build contacts among political leaders and he bowed before no one. Political leaders favour those who are servile to them and therefore upright persons like Rahim cannot get into their good books.

While the politicians and people in power ignored his contribution a filmmaker has come forward to immortalize his contribution to India by a making a film on him named Maidaan.

MS Education Academy

The film’s teaser trailer has been released. The clip is about 90 seconds long and it tells the story of a fight against the odds by Rahim and his Indian team. The trailer opens with monochrome shots from the 1952 Summer Olympics held in Helsinki (Finland). India fared badly on that occasion and lost 10-1 to Yugoslavia in the preliminary round. But the resounding defeat did not discourage Rahim. Instead it brought out his fighting spirit.

He studied the training methods used by the European teams. The rampaging Hungarian team under the captaincy of the legendary Ferenc Puskas was ruling the world in those days. Rahim studied their training and tactics and then modified the same to suit Indian players. Obviously Indian players who had less stamina could not exactly copy the methods of the Europeans. But with some alterations, the Indian team could also benefit. So Rahim planned it all out and met with success in the next edition of the Olympic Games in 1956.

India defeats Australia

On 1st December 1956, India gave an outstanding display that stood out like a beacon in the history of Indian football. India defeated host Australia 4-2 as ace striker Neville D’Souza scored a hat trick and the livewire of the Indian team, Kittu (Krishnaswamy), scored one goal. No football fan will ever forget that display. But what is happening now? Australia which had once tasted defeat against India now plays in the final phase of the FIFA World Cup while India has dropped to the bottom. India now has highly paid foreign coaches and support staff but they have not been able to deliver the results that Rahim had done in 1956.

It is hoped that the film will bring out the facts about this wonderful coach. It is learnt that the filmmakers had sought inputs from the late S.S. Hakim, son of coach Rahim. Hakim who was an Air Force officer had himself played in the Olympics and was a highly qualified coach and referee too. He passed away in 2021 but his vast knowledge, if used well, should make this an absorbing film. The music has been composed by A.R. Rahman and this will undoubtedly provide an added attraction.

In the film Ajay Devgn plays the role of Rahim. One hopes to hear the actors speaking the Hyderabadi (Deccani) version of Urdu. If the characters speak in chaste Hindi, the impact and the mood will be lost. It is hoped that Devgn will do justice to this important role. After many delays due to the pandemic and other reasons, the film is scheduled for a theatrical release on 23rd June 2023. It will be a proud day for Hyderabad when the film finally hits the screens. All Indians will come to know about the life and struggles of this legendary coach from our city.

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( With inputs from )

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