What’s the biggest fight in the history of Bengali fights? Politics? Films? Food? Music? No… It’s football. Football is many sentiments rolled into one. When you talk about football, you don’t just talk about football. You have the Ghoti vs Bangal debate and talk about Chingri and Ilish. You discuss history, geography, politics and culinary sciences of Bengal. It’s no wonder that we have some excellent films on this sport. Are you a soccer buff? Then you might enjoy these movies on football.
1. Dhanni Meye – The most popular among movies on football
One of the most popular Bengali football movies, Dhanni Meye is about a soccer-obsessed club owner played by Uttam Kumar, whose brother is forced to marry the niece of the enemy team’s owner. The film gave us the iconic song, “Sob khelar shera…”
2. Mohan Baganer Meye – A light-hearted comedy
This 1976 flick Utpal Datta plays an elderly man looking a Mohan Bagan fan as his son’s potential bride. But his son is in love with an East Bengal follower. The rest of the film is about the Bong soccer-buffs’ pet topic: East Bengal vs Mohan Bagan.
3. East Bengaler Chele – Of passion and dreams
Don’t be confused by the name: this movie is not a spin-off of Mohan Baganer Meye. Chiranjit Chakraborty is a talented footballer whose disabled brother, played by Biplab Chatterjee, makes sacrifices to support his younger brother’s soccer career.
4. Saheb – A fight between dream and responsibility
This 1981 movie starring Tapas Pal is the story of many poverty-stricken youths in India. Saheb, a football enthusiast, give up on a promising career in sports when he sells his kidney and jeopardises his life to help his family in the time of financial crisis.
5. Lorai – The fight to make it happen
This 2015 film has Prosenjit Chatterjee playing an alcoholic and former footballer taking building a powerful team with gifted boys unaware of their own talent. The movie explores themes of politics and recognising the talents suppressed by authorities.
6. Egaro – Football, Swadesi Movement, and more
in 1911, Mohan Bagan became the first Indian team to win the IFA Shield, playing barefooted. In 2011, Egaro not only upheld the glorious moment of joy, but also struck a chord by highlighting the Swadeshi movement that was prevalent during that time.
7. Bicycle Kick – A bond between a teacher and a student
When a soccer coach realises that a boy is hiding his real talent with the ball because a past trauma has left him withdrawn, he decides to help the boy. That’s Bicycle Kick, one of the underrated feel-good movies on football, starring Ritwick Chakraborty.
8. Messi – Not a bioscope
One of the new movies about football starring Ronodeep Bose and Aryann Bhowmik, Messi is a passionate tale of two brothers, one of whom plays wearing a “Messi” jersey. When he is left disabled due to a match injury, his brother tries to take his place.
9. Open Tee Bioscope – Struggle, laughter, and some football
While this is not a football-themed movie per se, Open Tee Bioscope, set in the 90s, beautifully captures the true spirit of para football in North Kolkata, along with other struggles, dramas, and emotions in the life of middle-class Bengali folks of Kolkata.
For all football-loving Bangalis, this football movies list is highly recommended. These movies on football will make you realise that here, in Bengal, football is more than just a sport, and beyond just the Mohan Bagan vs East Bengal fight (though these make up a large part of the football experience.) Football means passion, a love of a different kind. We worship football like a religion here. We truly mean it when we say, “Shob khelar shera Bangalir tumi football.”