More than 62 years after an Indian football team came within a whisker of winning an Olympic medal, a Bollywood movie is being made on the Hyderabad coach who made it happen: Syed Abdul Rahim.

“About a year ago, Joy Sengupta, an ad filmmaker, approached me saying he wanted to make a movie about Rahim
. I shared all the information with him. They expected I would ask for money. I don’t want money, I want the younger generation to know about the glorious golden period of Indian football and my father’s contribution,” says Syed Shahid Hakim, son of S.A. Rahim and a Dhyan Chand awardee.

Reliving glory

The biopic is expected to bring alive S.A. Rahim’s life, who led a stunning rise of the Indian team in the 1950s. His biggest achievement? Getting a walkover in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics against defending champion Hungary even as its Magic Magyars withdrew due to Hungarian Revolution; beating Australia 4-2 before losing to Yugoslavia 1-4 in the semifinals. At the Asian Games inaugural, Rahim’s team won gold for India as the then Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, watched from the VIP stand. On Friday, Zee Studios tweeted about its project: “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.”

Mr. Shahid Hakim, who played under his father, later coached and was a referee as well before retiring from the National Institute of Sports, Patiala, has been bombarded with calls about his father since then.

The trigger was perhaps Novy Kapadia’s book
Barefoot to Boots
that’s partly instrumental in spotlighting the coach, who was almost forgotten except in the rarefied field of Hyderabad’s football circles. Rahim worked his magic on Indian football teams between 1948 and 1960 bagging Asian Games gold in 1951 and 1962. In the 1960 Rome Olympics, India was jinxed in the death group ‘D’ which had Hungary, France and Peru. India lost to Hungary 2-1 and drew 1-1 with France before losing 2-0 to Peru. It was here that Balaram and P.K. Banerjee scored a goal each. In that period, the Hyderabad police team brought home five Rovers Cup trophies.

Football prophet

Rahim was a school teacher who drifted into football coaching. Noticing that Indian footballers used to dribble needlessly, he came up with the concept of one-touch football. “The player had to get the ball and pass it. A dribble would be considered a foul and a free kick awarded,” says Hakim, as he reels out names of playgrounds in Hyderabad and tournaments that used to be played here.

“People bemoan our football skills. But where are the grounds for children to play? Football is the most democratic game. One ball and two goal posts can engage 22 players. But our government is interested in promoting individual sports. Money, land, academies are gifted to players. Team games get a short shrift,” rues Mr. Hakim, promising to share all the trials and tribulations of his father with the movie-makers. “He was a strict disciplinarian. I was treated as just one of the players. There were so many talented players that we used to hide injuries, lest someone else play and take our slot. He used the 4-2-4 combination before anyone used it,” says Mr. Hakim.

While football grounds have disappeared and the beautiful game is played only by a few expats in Hyderabad, the biopic is sure to make Indians remember a time when India was a name to reckon with in world soccer scene.

Source: Read Full Article