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Fight of immortal 11 of ‘1911’ Mohun Bagan on celluloid

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Football fever is at its peak. The film industry is bringing in good news for soccer maniacs. After the journey of East Bengal Club was brought on celluloid by Goutam Ghosh’s documentary, it is now the turn for Bengal’s oldest club Mohun Bagan to be featured in a full-blown movie. Who can ever forget the iconic match of 1911 in pre-independent India, when the boys of India in bare feet, defeated the English footballers of East Yorkshire Regiment in the landmark match of 29 July 1911. Mohun Bagan became the first native team to have won the IFA shield that year. It was not just a pride for the team, but a national pride and honour, to have defeated the colonial team on the grounds.

Bollywood hunk John Abraham, who is a great football fan himself and also the owner of North East United FC, had been living with the dream of bringing this unforgettable match on celluloid. He has finally come up with a pet project ‘1911’ where he will attempt to pay a tribute to this enthralling match and establish its significance to the common masses. This match of 1911 was like no other ordinary match. It was not only about the spirit of the match, players or team. It had an important part to play in the freedom struggle of India. This broke the misconception that the despotic British were unconquerable. The victory of Mohun Bagan not only brought in pride for India but turned out to be a tight slap on the faces of the tyrannical British.

The journey of Mohun Bagan Athletic Club dates back to 1889 when Mitra, Sen and Bose - the three aristocratic families of Bengal laid the foundation of the club. It was 1900 when Subedar Major Sailen Basu became the secretary of the club and the team won its first trophy in 1904. For two consecutive years, the team unfortunately got knocked out in the second round. Mohun Bagan Club began its Indian Football Association (IFA) in 1911.

The team was captained by Shibas Bhaduri who mentored the young boys and instilled an undying spirit in them which led them to fight out their skins and defeat East Yorkshire Regiment. The fierce players of the team who played with all their heart and soul included Abhilash Ghosh, Srischanda or Habul Sarkar, Rajendranath Sengupta, Bijoydas and Bhuti Sukul. Hiralal Mukherjee was the goalkeeper. The only man in the team to wear boots was Sudhir Chatterjee. The team kept on winning one match after the other and made it to the finals against East Yorkshire Regiment. On July 29, the final match started at 5:30pm at Calcutta Football Ground. A crowd of 1,00,000 had gathered to be a witness of the match. The match was gradually moving towards a draw. The huge crowd started chanting ‘Vande Mataram’ which gave an impetus to the players. During those times, Vande Mataram was banned but even the British Police could not stop the spectators from shouting Vande Mataram. Fifteen minutes after the interval, the opponent captain Jackson scored and black kites covered the skyscape. The last minute goal by the Mohun Bagan club was the final revenge taken by the ‘natives’ for the insult of their motherland. This not only brought glory to the team but was an act of act of defiance against the illegitimate rulers.

Till now, July 29 happens to be the most important day for Mohun Bagan. Every year, even now, the team celebrates this day with great reverence. The film, ‘1911’ will talk about this inspiring tale of Mohun Bagan which marked the defining moment of the club. John Abraham has collaborated with Nikhil Advani and Bhushan Kumar to convert this distant dream into cinematic reality. They are working on the script presently. 1911 will be shot in Kolkata from November 2019 and is expected to release by mid 2020.