A: Biography, dramaDirector: Asif KapadiaCast: Diego MaradonaRating:
Oscar-winning director( of Indian origin) Asif Kapadia, who crowned his uncanny ability to dig for unseen footage on sporting( Aryton Senna) and music megastars, with his win for ‘Amy,’ does it again with his latest, an insightful, lacerating expose on the Football genius, Diego Armando Maradona, who was as vilified as he was lauded all through his remarkable career.
Constructed from over 500 hours of footage from diverse sources, this intriguing compilation shows up the demi-God for what he is. Kapadia’s documentary consists largely of existing footage with voice-over commentaries from observers and important people who played an integral role in Maradona’s life. Even Maradona reminisces about his past in an off the cuff retort. The ensuing collage of significant moments from Maradona’s life plays out in euphoric resplendence.
Following a stint with Barcelona, Maradona, the highest priced footballer of his time, gets bought over by Napoli, one of the poorest clubs belonging to a poor city Naples, in Italy and the rest, as they say, is history.
Check out the trailer here:
Kapadia sets up a thrilling opening with several cars racing to a pre-match Press conference at the gigantic stadium in Naples while intercutting that with archival footage of the glorious goals that were instrumental in anointing the footballer as a genius on the field. But right from the beginning, we are made aware of the dark shadow that trails Maradona’s many exploits. The involvement of the Camorra (an Italian Mafia-crime syndicate, one of the oldest and largest criminal organizations in Italy, which arose in the region of Campania and its capital Naples) led by the Giuliani family, in the sporting antecedents of Naples, is made clear when a reporter questions Maradona about their involvement and the President of the club decides to intervene and throw out the journalist for daring to raise it. Kapadia then segues through Maradona’s behind-the-scenes exploits as well as his on-the-field heroics, interspersing them with the drama of a life lived king size.
Pele’s observation that Maradona is not mature enough to wear the mantle of ‘Greatest Footballer Ever’ holds true as the drama of a life led in the public eye unfolds. When Maradona leaves Barcelona for SSC Naples, he is looking for salvaging his and his adopted team’s pride. Having left Barcelona without winning a major tournament it’s up to him to create an opportunity for a disheartened Naples which has long been relegated to also-ran. Kapadia inserts footage of Maradona’s less than humble Buenos Aires Slum origins before showing him riding the crest to glory… and the inevitable infamy. Allegations of fathering a son with his sister’s friend Cristiana, and serial womanising dog his togetherness with then-partner and later, wife, Claudia Villafane while cocaine addiction brings about his eventual downfall. Kapadia’s film becomes more dramatic because of Antonio Pinto’s befitting background score that swells and ebbs in keeping with Maradona’s many milestones. Kapadia’s film takes us through the euphoria of Argentina defeating England, the hand of God Goal playing spoiler before eventually defeating West Germany in the World Cup final. We see scenes of jubilation and celebration rigged up with Diego’s tearful telephone call to his elderly mother in Argentina. Napoli’s win in the Champions League and the UEFA Champions Cup is the high point from where Maradona’s career spirals out of control. The once worshipped Demi god becomes a pariah following the suspended jail term and doping ban and it takes his public acknowledgment of his illegitimate son, thirty years after his conception, to bring back the humanity of the man. Asif Kapadia’s film, a smoothly flowing saga about women, drugs, fame, and despair, is truly a roller-coaster ride through the bumps and grind of a career that rocketed upwards before disintegrating into infamy!