The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Boys in blue strike stars and pinstripes

Mumbai, March 13: If the India-Pakistan match stopped a few hearts, the sensitive index of the entertainment and corporate worlds also saw a significant drop in activities.

Some of the busiest took the day off, or unabashedly mixed work with play. Salman Khan stayed at his seaside Bandra home today and cheered the boys in blue all the way to victory. Lending his vocal chords able support were two other red-blooded Khans, brothers Arbaaz and Sohail.

Writer-editor Shobhaa De watched the match breathlessly at her Cuffe Parade residence. “It was a heart-stopper,” she said. “Psychologically, it gives the Indian team a great advantage.”

Rajeev Karwal, CEO, Electrolux, had to attend a conclave in Delhi, that also claimed Aishwarya Rai. Karwal kept in touch with the score through his mobile and Ash should have done the same, said her secretary, who added that the lady loves the game.

At lunchtime at the conclave, which was organised by a leading media group and attended by Sonia Gandhi today, all the corporate big wigs abandoned their business strategies and gathered round the telly. Which made Sonia remark: “This is what binds the subcontinent together.”

For Aswin Dani, vice-chairman and managing director, Asian Paints, it was a serious time-off — he watched it at his home in Gamdevi with his grandson Mudit and granddaughter Smiti.

Proshanto Banerjee, chairman and managing director of GAIL, kept office at home, as is usual for him on Saturdays, but also kept an eye on the match. M.A. Ravi Kumar, regional head of Standard Chartered, Global Markets, India and Nepal, sat in the trading room and watched the match live on his PC.

Actor Suniel Shetty waited with bated breath for adequate security arrangements to be in place — and he will take off for Pakistan.

A gaping hole was spotted on Page 3 — industrialist-showman Vijay Mallya has already flown a planeload of 20 glam people to Pakistan.

A number of Bollywood stars and singers — Akshay Kumar, Shilpa Shetty, and singers Shaan, Babul Supriyo and Sunidhi Chauhan — were seen queuing up for Lahore. They will perform in the city on the 25th so that they can catch the match on the 24th. De also said she could attend the Lahore match.

Shaan watched the first half of the match today in Jodhpur, rushed to Mumbai, caught the remaining part on his telly and was yet to recover from the win when he had to leave for a meeting. Irrfan Khan, of the Macbeth-Maqbool fame, said he was away for the better part of the match in Pune, but caught the last five overs.

Ad man Prahlad Kakkar watched the second part. “All my hair has fallen off,” he said.

Shah Rukh Khan didn’t watch the match, because he was shooting in Mahabaleswar for Ashutosh Gowadikar’s Swadeshi, and has no plans of going to Pakistan. He has shoots lined up till August. But cricket buff and mobile-endorser that he is, he must have kept his cell busy, his secretary said.

Rana Kapoor, CEO, RaboIndia, Harsh Mariwala, chairman, Marico, and Kapil Dev, who is also the Indian team’s bowling consultant, played a corporate golf match at the Chembur Golf course, but kept tabs on India’s fortunes.

The best excuse to take the day off came from Kishore Biyani, owner of the retain chains Pantaloons and Big Bazaar. He was at home because he was forced to, he said.

“Our entire business has been affected by the matches. Weekends are the time when business goes up, but footfalls have fallen dramatically. There is a 60 per cent decrease in footfalls. So I watched the match at home,” said Biyani.

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