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The footballer Satyajit Ray adored

July 03, 2006 16:41 IST

Satyajit Ray's world revolved around Edson Arantes Do Nascimento, better known to millions of football fanatics as Pele.

"It was not possible to watch a match on television during Baba's (Ray's) time. Yet, he would somehow get all the information about Pele and the World Cup from newspapers, radio etc," reminisces Sandip Ray, the legendary filmmaker's only child.

"It would be wrong to say he was an avid soccer watcher but he made sure he always got to know about his hero's achievements. In fact, he mentioned the soccer legend in many of his creations," Sandip says.

In a scene from Ray's last film Agantuk, as lead actor Utpal Dutt mentions Brazil, actor Robi Ghosh's eyes light up. 'He is dreaming of Pele,' quips Dipankar De, another actor in the film.

"Baba had this irresistible attraction for geniuses and to him, Pele was everything football ever stood for," says Sandip. "He was passionate about Pele's skills and even drew his sketch for (children's magazine) Sandesh."

Has he inherited his father's love of football? Sandip answers in the negative. "Though I feel a bit embarrassed admitting it, I am absolutely ignorant of and indifferent to this game."

Sandip's son Souradip has taken after his grandfather as far as football mania is concerned.

"His (Souradip's) preferences keep changing every four years and each World Cup finds him supporting a different team," says Sandip. "This time, he was crying himself hoarse cheering for his favourite -- Brazil."

Indrani Roy Mitra