What happens when two icons from the world of sports and cinema come together at a football ground early morning on a Sunday ? A lot of fun, learning and action! That’s what ensued when Bhaichung Bhutia trained Dev on Sunday to help the actor prepare for his role in Dhrubo Banerjee’s Golondaaj. Dev, who plays Nagendra Prasad Sarbadhikari — the Father of Indian Football — in the film, learnt the nitty gritty of the sport from the former striker, who happily obliged by showing the actor some dribbles, headers, shooting skills and more! We caught up
Compared to your tenure, do you think interest in football has been on the rise lately?
Oh yes! The interest is fifty times bigger now with so many kids showing interest in the game. When I used to play, the game was not so popular among youngsters. But it is a rage now. With so many clubs and football academies coming up, the game is really reaching a new dimension. Football was considered to be a poor man’s game earlier, but now there’s a lot of positivity surrounding the game.
Both Tollywood and Bollywood are coming up with films on football. What does it mean to a former footballer?
It makes me very happy. We must make the game as popular as possible. Indian football has many stalwarts whose lives can inspire a lot of people. Cinema is a great medium to reach out to those who are not aware of such legends. Bengal is home to many football icons as well as some of the best clubs. Kolkata’s love for the game is unmatched. You don’t get to see such football fanatics anywhere else in the world. Their passion has always inspired me to push myself further and play better.
How did the training with Dev go?
Dev is extremely talented and a great actor. He has a natural flair for the game plus he’s very flexible. So, he picked up the moves easily. You can’t become a footballer in one day. A lot of practice goes into it and Dev is doing that diligently, which shows from the way he dribbles. He told me that he has never played football, but I didn’t feel that even once. He was doing most things on his own, I just brushed it up. With Dev playing a legendary footballer, I feel more youngsters will take up the sport now.
Do you practice football every day?
Not really. I keep travelling, so I don’t get much time. Nowadays, I am more into trekking and mountain biking. But I try to do some or the other exercise everyday just to remain fit.
Do your children share an equal interest in football?
My son is into football, but my daughter likes gymnastics.
Dev is interested in making a biopic on your life.
(Laughs) I have a very simple life, which won’t appeal to people.
What do you like the most about Kolkata?
I have stayed here for 20 years. It is like my hometown. I like the warmth of this city and the love they have for football.
Source: Times of India