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Goal Kolkata... More than just soccer!

July 08, 2014 08:01 IST

Goal Kolkata... More than just soccer!

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Kelly Candaele tells Suman Guha Mozumder why he chose to document the historic rivalry between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan.

The rivalry between iconic Kolkata soccer clubs East Bengal and Mohun Bagan is the subject of a documentary by American journalist and filmmaker Kelly Candaele.

The 50-minute documentary, Goal Kolkata, will release during the annual Bengali conference in Orlando, Florida, coinciding with the semi-finals of the soccer World Cup.

“I’m planning to premier the film at a Bengali conference,” Kelly told India Abroad.

“After that I will make adjustments to the film depending upon the feedback and then offer it to distributors for worldwide distribution. It will later be shown on television and available for download from the Internet.”

Candaele, who has written extensively for The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and The Nation magazine among others, visited Kolkata twice last year where he shot the film.

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Image: East Bengal and Mohun Bagan fans during a Kolkata derby match
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty

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'History, politics, memory and passion in this fierce Indian soccer classic'

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He said the Indian Football Association helped him meet coaches and players of East Bengal and Mohun Bagan.

In Kolkata, Candaele got an insight on how soccer came to be part of Bengali culture and tradition.

“I think it is a fascinating story to tell,” Candaele said.

“The documentary traces how history, politics, memory and passion are bound up in this fierce Indian soccer classic.”

His previous documentary was on Real Madrid and FC Barcelona.

Candaele said although there is no comparison between the Kolkata teams and Spanish clubs, there is a similarity in terms of historic rivalry and passion that soccer has generated among spectators in both countries and shaped their culture.

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Image: An East Bengal fan enjoys the action during a derby match
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty

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'Inspired by the clubs after listening to BBC report'

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Candaele was first inspired by the Kolkata soccer clubs in 2012 after listening to a BBC report.

He told India Abroad earlier that he studied Indian history, the country’s freedom movement, Bengali culture and a detailed history of the two clubs, to understand the subject before going to the field for interviews.

“I would like to meet as many Bengalis as possible in the US for the film to get a perspective of both first generation and second generation Bengalis,” he had said then.

And he did.

Besides meeting Bengali soccer lovers in New Jersey, he went to Toronto last year to the North American Bengali Conference.

He also filmed a game between fans of Mohun Bagan and East Bengal in Houston and in Southern California.

“It was a great experience,” Candaele said.

“I spent mostly my own money, but also had help from people -- specifically Sukumar and Shima Roy from Toronto -- who let my film crew stay in their house in Kolkata.”


Image: East Bengal fans wave the team flag
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty

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