Football wars

Jun 29, 2016, 06:01 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

Just weeks after the legendary footballer Zinedine Zidane made a visit to Mumbai, his one-time teammate and equally legendary club footballer Luis Figo, has also had his own tryst with India

Just weeks after the legendary footballer Zinedine Zidane made a visit to Mumbai, his one-time teammate and equally legendary club footballer Luis Figo, has also had his own tryst with India.

Figo, the charismatic ex-football captain of Portugal and also the one-time FIFA World player of the year, has been a frequent visitor to India over the past couple of months in his capacity as the president of the Premier Futsal League.

Virat Kohli, Luis Figo and Praful Patel
Virat Kohli, Luis Figo and Praful Patel

The league, which is set to begin next month has roped in Virat Kohli as their brand ambassador, and AR Rahman to score their anthem. But sources say that there could be a spot of trouble brewing for Figo and co. as the league has managed to irk India's football powers that be.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF), that is the governing body for all forms of football in India doesn't officially sanction or recognise the new league. The issue is serious enough for NCP politician and President of AIFF, Praful Patel who tweeted, "Any brand ambassador of an ISL franchise cannot do the same for a league not recognized by AIFF or FIFA."

What's more is that we are informed that discussions are underway to start another rival Futsal league which will be officially backed by the governing authority boards. A case of IPL vs ICL (the long forgotten Kapil Dev initiative) all over again?

Old guard celebration
It was something of the coming together of the city's old guard on Monday evening at a tony, art filled apartment at Altamount Road to celebrate the marriage of Barota Malhoutra to 'SS'.

The couple, both in their 70s now had been college sweethearts many decades ago, and gone their separate ways into marriages, children and grandchildren until fate and Cupid brought them together recently as singletons, and old fires had been rekindled.

The vivacious Malhoutra, one of SoBo's celebrated hostesses, had invited all her old friends to celebrate. Indira Jaising, the feisty Supreme Court lawyer and activist who'd been one of Malhoutra's schoolmates when they'd attended a convent in Santacruz, had flown in from Delhi and said she wouldn't have missed the occasion for anything.

Screen legend Waheeda Rehman was seen exuberantly congratulating the glowing bride and the likes of Nira and Shyam Benegal, Asit Chandmal, Ashok Advani, Khalid and Zeyna Ansari, Anjali and Ajit Singh, Sabira and Chotu Merchant and Meera Chauhan were seen similarly jubilating about the fortuitous coupling.

What's best of all is that there was singing and dancing, and much exclaiming about old love and new romances, as the couple rejoiced with family and friends. As a guest said, "This is the Mumbai that had set the social ball spinning. And it wouldn't recognise a 'media wall' or an 'event organiser' if they grew teeth and bit its heads off." Indeed.

'Saddi Dilli' in Mayfair
Call it reverse colonisation, but friends who recently returned from London, swear that The Audley, the crystal chandeliered historic pub at the corner of Mount Street and South Audley Street, has become an extension of 'saddi Delhi.'

Mukul Rohatgi. Pic/Twitter, Dinesh Vazirani and Pria Kataria Puri
Mukul Rohatgi. Pic/Twitter, Dinesh Vazirani and Pria Kataria Puri

Consider the evidence. Rubbing shoulders amidst the late Victorian woodwork, and no doubt sampling the establishment's famous bangers and mash and cask ale recently, were some leading denizens from India, namely Mukul Rohatgi Attorney General of India, Dinesh Vazirani founder Saffronart, designer and TV host Pria Kataria Puri, and Sula's Rajeev Samant.

All at the same time. And when you thrown into this heady mix names as ubiquitous as AD Singh and Suhel Seth, (who appear to show up on different continents often simultaneously) a more high-profile group of fellow diners would be hard to find — even in Delhi's Khan Market. Of course, things might change after Brexit though.

Daddy cool
"I think he will be a great dad. He has too much love to give," says designer Nandita Mahtani responding to Monday's news about her friend, singleton Tusshar Kapoor's baby born through IVF and surrogacy, that has seen widespread delight all round. "I think it's the most wonderful news!" she says.

Nandita Mahtani, Ekta Kapoor, Tusshar Kapoor and Renu Chainani
Nandita Mahtani, Ekta Kapoor, Tusshar Kapoor and Renu Chainani

Mahtani, who's known the family from as far back as she can remember, is thrilled for Tusshar, son of yesteryear star Jeetendra, and brother to one of showbiz's most successful producers, Ekta Kapoor.

"He's extremely loving and one of the nicest people I know," Mahtani says, adding the clincher: "He has a great relationship with his dad so there's no doubt he will have the same with his son." Nice!

A welcome move
The news put a delighted zing into one of the country's most outspoken LGBT champions of gay rights. "All power to the Delhi group. Tum aaagey badho, hum tumhare saath hain," says Ashok Row Kavi, when we called to ask for his response to yesterday's news, that a group of high-profile gay icons including chef Ritu Dalmia, hotelier Aman Nath, and dancer N S Johar had approached the Supreme Court seeking quashing of section 377 of the IPC which criminalises homosexuality in the country.

Ashok Row Kavi and Ritu Dalmia
Ashok Row Kavi and Ritu Dalmia

"I'm glad the Delhi celeb group is joining the fray," says Row Kavi. "How can you even think a law made by a colonial repressive regime in 1869 even be seen in the light of a democratic Constitution drawn up by a Constituent Assembly of the world's largest democracy?" The plea is expected to come up for consideration today when the court reopens after its summer break.

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