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Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019

‘I want you to feel what Maradona went through’

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Asif Kapadia’s latest documentary tries to differentiate Diego from Maradona, two completely different personalities

hollywood Updated: Oct 11, 2019 15:29 IST
Navneet Vyasan
Navneet Vyasan
Hindustan Times
Asif Kapadia
Asif Kapadia(Photo: Getty images)

It’s 1986, and the clear, calm blue skies of the scorching Mexican summer don’t do justice to what’s happening in Aztec Stadium, Mexico City. It’s England vs Argentina. Tempers flaring, the English fans have just witnessed the goal of the century by Argentinian legend Diego Maradona. And just as they’re getting ready for a draw, Maradona cements his position in the books of history with his iconic, Hand of God, to get his team through to the semi-finals.

But for Academy Award-winning filmmaker, Asif Kapadia, it’s not those moments that interest him. Kapadia is considered to be one of the finest filmmakers in the world. The director, born to Indian parents in the UK, has won an Emmy, BAFTA and an Oscar and has also helmed episodes of the acclaimed web series, Mindhunter, along with David Fincher. The director, who won the Oscar for best documentary feature for Amy (2015), in his new documentary, Diego Maradona, tries to differentiate “Diego from Maradona”.

Diego, a calm, composed and sweet-spoken personality, is in stark contrast to Maradona, a badly-behaved superstar hounded by the media, everywhere he went. “I’m interested in edgy characters. Characters who don’t conform to things. They’re rebels in a way. They aren’t particularly loved by everyone. Amy (Winehouse) wasn’t loved by everyone. Maradona doesn’t have a good reputation. It was the same with (Ayrton) Senna. I’m not interested in who won the most races, or who sold the most records or who won the most Ballon d’Ors,” he says.

World Cup 1986 - Argentina's Diego Maradona flies past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton  after using his fist to score the infamous Hand of God goal
World Cup 1986 - Argentina's Diego Maradona flies past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton after using his fist to score the infamous Hand of God goal

So, how do you humanise a God? “By getting very close to him,” says Kapadia, adding, “I had to try and understand him. I had to understand where he came from and what he went through. Only then can you understand what he became. A lot of these films are really just a close-up study using intimate footage. These are the footage where he’s ignoring the camera. That’s where you get something true,” adds the Amy (2015) director.

It was in Napoli, an extremely devout Christian city in Italy, that things took a turn for the legend. This is where he actually became God-like. In what was termed, “The poorest city of Italy, buying the most expensive player in the world,” Maradona was bought for 6.9 million Euros. On-field, he took SSC. Napoli to previously unimaginable heights, but off it, he got involved in drugs, partying and most importantly the not-so-august company of notorious Italian mafia – Camorra. “I wanted to know what it’s like to step out of your home and literally be attacked by the media. It’s not a nice feeling. I want you to feel something. I want you to understand them, so you think twice before judging them. It is quite hard to open him up and make him talk about stuff. Sometimes you spend a lot of time talking, just to get that 10 brilliant minutes,” he says.

Now retired, the towering personality frequently found himself in the news thanks to reports of misbehaviour, drugs, getting photographed with the notorious Italian mafia — Camorra, and in one instance, shooting at journalists waiting outside his home in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Kapadia got to spend time with the Argentinian legend at his home, and those were the moments that he treasures the most. “When you see him come down the stairs, you don’t know how he’s going to be. But it was just us talking. There was no one at home except the translator. He was very sweet. However, he has his good and bad days. But luckily, I spent so much time with him that I ignored the bad days. A lot of people only have the bad day interview,” he says.

First Published: Oct 11, 2019 15:28 IST

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