KICK OFF TIME IN RUSSIA
Be it Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi or Neymar Jr, all eyes will be on the FIFA World Cup stars. We speak to soccer enthusiasts from Bollywood about their plans
It’s time for the big kick-off, as the FIFA World Cup gets underway tonight, so don’t be surprised if football conversations take over all the cricket talk for a month. Like millions of football fans across the globe, a number of fanatics from Bollywood are also high on the soccer magic. We catch up with five such enthusiasts to talk about the ‘beautiful game’, its stars, dark horses, their favourites and more.
What does the game of football mean to you?
Kartik Aaryan: Firstly, it means fitness. It helps develop skills such as speed, strength and agility. It also teaches team work and selflessness. I make sure that I play football at least once a week. Ayushmann Khurrana: I follow the [football] world cup very closely. I am glad the sport is gaining popularity in India too. My brother, Aparshakti, is also extremely passionate about football. Harshvardhan Kapoor:
Football is everything to me. It’s pure love. I feel it stands for bonding in its highest form, as there are very few things in life that are as exhilarating.
Arjun Kapoor: Football is a game that defines life. You can be skilful, amazing and outstanding individually, but if you work as a team, you can be even better. The game of football teaches that.
Shoojit Sircar: The game is my lifeline. I call the football pitch my ‘thinking ground.’ Every move and goal is new and fresh. It’s like a piece of art. The same is true for an artist too.
Name three teams you will root for this year...
Arjun: Belgium, England and Argentina Kartik: Argentina, Portugal and Brazil Ayushmann: Germany, Argentina and Portugal Harshvardhan: England, Spain and France
Shoojit: Brazil, which is an all-time favourite for all Bengalis; Argentina and Belgium.
Who could be the dark horses?
Arjun: I don’t know if they are a ‘dark horse’, but France has been playing consistently well. Kartik: Croatia could surprise. Poland can give a tough time, and Uruguay has lots of potential.
Ayushmann: Croatia, England and Mexico. They were dangerous in the qualifiers.
Harshvardhan: Belgium has an amazing squad. They lack experience but they could surprise everyone.
Shoojit: Belgium is a young team with some brilliant players. Also, Germany will be tough to beat.
Which players will you follow?
Arjun: Harry Kane (England), Eden Hazard (Belgium), and Lionel Messi (Argentina).
Kartik: Lionel Messi (Argentina), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) and Neymar Jr (Brazil).
Ayushmann: Lionel Messi (Argentina), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) and Neymar Jr (Brazil).
Harshvardhan: Fred (Brazil), Sergej MilinkovicSavic (Serbia), and Jesse Lingard (England)
Shoojit: Lionel Messi (Argentina), Neymar Jr (Brazil) and Mohamed Salah (Egypt).
Any special plans to catch all the football action?
Kartik: I was supposed to go to Russia and watch the matches live, but couldn’t due to work commitments. But the football world cup means a reunion with my friends.
Arjun: No plans right now, but I am a football fanatic, so even if I am travelling, I will find a way to follow every match. I plan to catch some of
the matches with friends and family.
Ayushmann: Given my work schedule, it will be difficult to catch all the matches, but I plan to watch as many as I can with my brother, Aparshakti, and friends.
Harshvardhan: I will be glued to my home theatre watching all the games with my close buddies.
Shoojit: I am travelling to Russia to catch the action live. My wife, Jhuma, my daughters, Ronnie (Lahiri; friend and business partner), and some other friends will also be with me. Jhuma also loves football, and we always wanted to watch one of the world cups together.
(Top) Ayushmann Khurrana, (above) Kartik Aaryan, and (right) Neymar Jr (Above, clockwise) Arjun Kapoor, Shoojit Sircar, and Cristiano Ronaldo
Harry Kane, (inset) Harshvardhan Kapoor