Posted by Fenil Seta
Natasha Coutinho (MUMBAI MIRROR; July 13, 2018)
The football fever is at its peak. With Croatia nudging out favourites England and France stealing a goal to seal Belgium’s fate, the FIFA finals on Sunday has suddenly become the most-debated topic across the globe. And Ajay Devgn is set to take the frenzy a notch higher with the news that he is to live out the story of Syed Abdul Rahim, the Indian football team’s coach and manager from 1950-1963, on the big screen. The film rolls early next year.
Rahim was responsible for taking the sport to new heights and winning accolades for the country. Under his guidance, India, which ranks 97 in the charts today, beat some of the top teams in the world, going on to win gold at the 1962 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, beating one of the toughest teams of the time, South Korea. Produced by Zee Studios, Boney Kapoor, Akash Chawla and Joy Sengupta, the sports drama will be directed by Amit Sharma who has the 2015 Arjun Kapoor-Sonakshi Sinha starrer Tevar to his credit and has recently wrapped up Junglee Pictures’ romcom Badhai Ho.
Saiwyn Quadros who penned the Mary Kom and Neerja biopics, and more recently John Abraham’s Parmanu, has joined hands with Namaste London, Commando, D-Day, Airlift and Junglee writer Ritesh Shah to collaborate on the screenplay and dialogues.
Shariq Patel, CEO of Zee Studios, points out that that the makers behind the project believe in backing good content and showcasing great characters. “We are happy to collaborate with Boney Kapoor to tell the story of India’s football coach, Syed Abdul Rahim. Ajay Devgn essaying the character makes it even more special,” he exults while Boney points out that it is amazing to see football becoming such a craze in India. “Yet our team is not being sent to important tournaments. When my partners Akash and Joy brought me the true-life story of Syed Abdul Rahim, I was surprised to learn that not many are even aware of this unsung hero and the achievements of India’s great team which had heroes like Chunni Goswami, PK Banerjee, Balaram, Franco, Arun Ghosh and many others. With Khelo India picking up momentum, the time is right to push India,” he asserts.
Speaking about the casting, Boney reasons that an actor like Ajay is the right choice to essay this character. “We hope that the film inspires millions of youngsters and that one day soon, India becomes a potent force in World Football and plays in the World Cup,” he signs off.
File photo of Syed Abdul Rahim (centre), Indian team’s coach and manager from 1950-1963