The actor and ‘striker’ will lead our team in a friendly football match against Bangladesh to commemorate the end of a 41-year-old blackout of Indian films
Cricketers may no longer be the darlings of the nation. And Bollywood may no longer be all starry-eyed at the mention of the sport. What better way then to herald the end of a 41-year-old ban on Indian films in our neighbouring Bangladesh, than a friendly football match between our actors and theirs?
TOI has learnt that on April 15 and in May, a team captained by Ranbir Kapoor will take on a Bangladeshi one, led by top actor Firdaus, at two commemorative matches in Dhaka and in Kolkata.
Bangladesh had imposed the ban in 1972 to protect the indigenous film industry from the onslaught of Indian, especially Hindi films.
While team Bangladesh will be represented by stars from their film industry, team India is likely to have Abhishek Bachchan, Prosenjit, Mithun Chakbraborty and with a host of Bengali stars.Ranbir will play as a striker.
The development was confirmed by Prosenjit, who was in Mumbai to receive a film award. He said that preparations for the high-profile matches are in full swing and the venues have been confirmed.
“We have had meetings with the Information and Broadcasting Minister of Bangladesh, Hasanul Haq Imu on this matter recently in Kolkata. It was decided that the ban will be symbolically lifted with two football matches — in India and Bangladesh. We are working towards putting together our respective teams,” smiled Prosenjit.
A source close to the development confirmed that Prosenjit’s meeting with Ranbir was fruitful. “Ranbir was visibly excited to be a part of the team because he is passionate about the sport and has been a part of a few exhibition matches,” said the source. While Ranbir is likely to play both in the India and Bangladesh matches, Abhishek has apparently given his consent to one of them.
Sounding optimistic about what he thinks is an ambitious idea, Prosenjit says: “It’s been more than four decades since this ban was enforced. Though all our previous attempts to lift it have failed, this time both the countries are willing to go the length. The money generated from these matches will be for the benefit of film technicians in both the countries,” he said, adding, “Besides, it will also open up an important market for our films, just as Bangladesh will benefit from sharing our content and expertise.”