Indian football has not gotten even a fraction of the attention and motivation it deserves from the film industry. The Bollywood has limited itself to cricket when it comes to film-making on sports and athletes. This is perhaps because cricket is the most popular and glamorous game in north India. In recent years, however, the trend is changing as sports personalities from boxing, sprinting and wrestling have had biopics made for the contributions they made in their respective fields. After Mikha Singh, another forgotten legend of Indian sport will now get a biopic, and this is none other than legendary football coach Syed Abdul Rahim. Ajay Devgn will play the role of the legendary coach and manager in the film, which is being directed by ad film director Amit Sharma.
A film on the football coach is perhaps coming this late because the popularity this game enjoyed was limited to Kerala, Goa, and West Bengal, and not North India which is generally the target audience of Bollywood movies. But the popularity of football has grown exponentially in the country over the past decade and a half. The timing for the announcement is perfect as the FIFA World Cup is still going on and millions of Indian have been watching the beautiful game.
Syed Abdul Rahim was the head coach of the Indian national football team from 1950 to 1963. This period is known as the golden age of Indian football with some of the best achievements in the history of the game for the country. The Indian team won Asian Games 1951 and 1962 and reached the semi-finals of 1956 Melbourne Olympics under the tutelage of Rahim. He died of cancer in 1963 at the age of 54. When Indian national coach Alberto Fernando had gone to a workshop in Brazil in 1964, he said, “What I learned from Rahim in 1956 is being taught now in Brazil. Verily, he was a football prophet.”
Zee Studios took to its official Twitter handle to make the official announcement of the movie.
Elated and proud to announce a story never told as @ZeeStudios_ #BoneyKapoor & @freshlimefilms come together for a biopic on India’s legendary #Football coach, Syed Abdul Rahim, starring @ajaydevgn, directed by @CinemaPuraDesi, screenplay by @SaiwynQ, and dialogues by @writish. pic.twitter.com/vzaLJya67x
— Zee Studios (@ZeeStudios_) July 13, 2018
Talking about the movie, Boney Kapoor said “It’s amazing to see football, world’s biggest game, having such a fever in India, and yet our team is not being sent to important tournaments. When my partners Akash Chawla and Joy Sengupta brought me the true story of Syed Abdul Rahim, I was amazed that not many are even aware of this unsung hero and the achievements of that great team which had heroes like Chunni Goswami, P.K. Banerjee, Balaram, Franco, Arun Ghosh among others. With the momentum of Khelo India getting pace, it’s time to push Indian football to the next level.”
We hope that it will be a great and honest biopic like the ones made on Milkha Singh and Mary Kom, because they have roped in one of the finest actors in the industry- Ajay Devgn. Boney Kapoor said, “An actor like Ajay is most apt for essaying this character. We hope that the film inspires millions of youngsters and soon the Indian football team plays in the World Cup and becomes a potent force in World Football.”
Devgn has previously nailed the character of Bhagat Singh in the 2002 Rajkumar Santoshi film The Legend of Bhagat Singh. Apart from this film, Ajay Devgn is also doing a movie with Special 26 fame Neeraj Pandey on Chanakya, one of the greatest political thinkers in the world. Ajay Devgn had signed another historical film on the life of 16th-century warrior Tanaji Malusare who is most popularly remembered for the Battle of Sinhagad in 1670 where he fought against Mughal fort keeper Udaybhan Rathore, a formidable Rajput warrior, until his last breath, which paved the way for a Maratha victory. It is great to see that Bollywood is moving to some serious stuff rather than reinforcing the caste prejudices in every movie. Last few years have been great for Indian cinema with movies on a variety of topics from sports to academia.