‘Maidaan’ Ending Explained & Film Summary: How Did Syed Abdul Rahim Die?


Directed by Amit Ravindernath Sharma, Maidaan is about that golden era of Indian football when, under the guidance of coach Syed Abdul Rahim, the country won gold at the Asian Games. It is the story of resilience, grit, determination, and a never-give-up attitude. It is the story of how a team that didn’t even have shoes to wear went on to beat one of the strongest teams in Asia. So, let’s take a look at the kind of struggle Coach Rahim had to go through and the obstacles he had to cross to create history.

Spoiler Alert

How did Coach Rahim create his team?

India had a terrible stint in the 1952 Olympic games, and the loss at the hands of the Yugoslavia team became a topic of conversation in at least the places where football was a popular sport. The media criticized the Indian team, and the federation put Syed Abdul Rahim under scrutiny, pinning all the blame for the loss on him. Syed Rahim, during the meeting, said that the players were not given football boots, which affected their performance. He also added that during practice and in all domestic tournaments, the match duration was 70 minutes, but in the Olympics, the game went on for a full 90 minutes. He said that because the players didn’t have that much stamina, the other teams scored a lot of goals against them in the last 20-odd minutes. Rahim had another problem, which he knew the members of the federation wouldn’t be happy to hear. He said that it was the Indian football team, but the maximum number of players were from West Bengal only. He said that there was talent in every corner of India, and they should properly research and recruit players who could make a difference.

Shubhankar Sengupta just wanted to throw Rahim under the bus, and he said that he was just trying to put more people from his city, i.e., Hyderabad, on the Indian team. The chairman at that time favored Rahim, and he had a lot of trust in his abilities. Syed Rahim was given a free hand, and he was asked to select the best players from the country. So the quest began, and Rahim had a very unorthodox way of scouting talent. It didn’t matter to Rahim if a player had been a part of big tournaments or not. Rahim just looked for that flair, and he knew that he would be able to make a good player out of him. Tulsidas Balaram was one such player who didn’t come from a very privileged background, and he played in small leagues in Secunderabad, but Rahim still showed faith in him and even fought with the federation members to have him on board. India finished in the fourth spot in the 1956 Summer Olympics, and everybody knew that for a nation that gained its independence just a decade ago, it was a huge feat. But still, Shubhankar Sen taunted Rahim and undermined the efforts of his team. 

Why was Coach Rahim fired from his job?

During the 1960 Olympics, India was able to draw the game with France, and that in itself was a huge achievement since France was one of the best teams in the tournament. Rahim saw hope, and he knew that in a few year’s time, the team would usher in the golden era of Indian football, but the administration turned against him, and this time, they were not ready to get influenced by what he said. The problem was that Rahim had a tiff with one of the leading journalists of those times, Roy Chowdhary. Mr. Roy demeaned the Indian team in front of Rahim, and the latter asked him not to speak about things that he had no knowledge about. Mr. Roy’s ego was hurt that day, and he did everything in his power to defame Rahim and get him fired from his job. Mr. Roy made sure that, eventually, Shubhankar Sen became the chairman of the federation, and he unfairly criticized the performance of the Indian team and the credibility of their coach whenever he had the opportunity. Shubhankar convinced the board to vote against Rahim, though even the players knew that if they wanted to win the big tournaments, they needed Rahim alongside them. But people like Shubhankar Sen didn’t think about the country, and their own vested interests superseded everything else. 

Why did Saira want Rahim to go back to his job? 

After quitting his job, Rahim was diagnosed with cancer, and he decided that he would spend whatever time was left with his family. Saira, his wife, didn’t like the fact that Rahim had lost all hope and was just waiting for death to arrive. She went up to him and told him whatever he was doing with his life was not right. She made him realize that, while living with him, they had also started dreaming of the day when India would win a gold medal. She asked him to give one last chance to his dream, muster all the courage, and go back to coaching India. Rahim knew that, with Shubhankar Sen at the helm of affairs, he didn’t stand a chance. He knew the kind of animosity the man had for him, but still, he agreed to what his wife told him and went to chase his dreams. Shubhankar Sen treated Rahim in the most disrespectful manner, and he ignored him in a way as if he didn’t even exist. Rahim didn’t give up, and he went to the former chairman of the federation and asked him to help his cause. Luckily, after a lot of convincing and keeping in mind the poor track record of the Indian team after Rahim had left, the board voted for the latter to be reinstated as the coach of the Indian football team. 

Was Syed Abdul Rahim able to fulfill his dream? 

The Indian contingent was about to leave for Jakarta when the news arrived that, due to a financial crisis, the government was not in a position to fund the football contingent. The players were disheartened, and Shubhankar and Mr. Roy stood on the sidelines, mocking them. Rahim was angry, as he had worked hard with the boys and knew that they had a genuine chance to win a gold at the Asian Games. So he wanted to meet Morarji Desai, the finance minister at the time, and after a lot of contemplation, he decided to go to Jakarta. After a bumpy start, the team gained momentum, and they made it very clear that they were not going to play as an underdog team. Meanwhile, Rahim’s health worsened, but somehow, he managed to show up for every game and guide the players. During a press conference, Mr. Sondhi criticized the Indonesian government for not including two nations in the Asian Games because of their personal rivalry. The citizens of Indonesia came on the streets and protested against the Indians. Rahim’s team was also booed in every single match, and the former kept telling his players not to get demotivated by the chants. India finally reached the finals, and they were up against the formidable South Korea. The boys played miraculously that day, and India defeated South Korea 2-1 and became the winner of the Asian Games. It was a historic moment for the entire country, and Coach Rahim’s purpose in life was fulfilled that day. 

Syed Abdul Rahim succumbed to his illness in 1963, and he left a huge legacy behind him. Rahim is to date believed to be the greatest of all time, as his ability to judge a player, his earnestness towards the sports that gave him so much, and his dedication could never be matched. 

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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