Why we love and hate Vijay Mallya so much
Many absconders owe more than him. But Vijay Mallya was particularly admired, then besieged because of the ultra-uber lifestyle he taught us all to aspire to.
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Yes, achhe din waapis aane wale hain, thanks to Mr Sajid who decided to uncork the bottle — oops — place his stamp on the extradition order. So the King of Good Times, the desi translation of which has helped win the mother of all elections in India, is probably going to get a new set of lawyers to handle his appeals process.
Like that election promise, we will have to wait a bit more for the good times to roll again. Of course he has plenty of money, or so he says. He is willing to give back the principal sum owed, a measly rupees 9000 crores. An unfathomable amount of money for the likes of us. But he is not paying back the interest accrued, which is why is he not going to be welcomed back, despite his good times intention, by the PSU banks.
Interest income is the bedrock of banking and without it, well, there would be a lot more NPAs, no, so why set a new trend of letting defaulters pay back some of what is owed and then see how it goes? We need shouting matter on TV, no?
What can we expect when the Vijay Rath comes back?
It's going to be a grand party, definitely. He may have a boat painted with the legend – 'The absconder is back!' And then let the wine flow all the way into the Arabian Sea. The Kingfisher jingle still bursts out on TV sometimes and it takes us back to those halcyon days of parties, the likes of which middle class India had never seen.
Pulchritude, an unabashed display of power, the ability to launch a face and make her famous instantly, the long line of celebrities in his owner's box at the cricket matches. He demonstrated the true power of air kissing — and taught us how to do it well. He commanded the beautiful world at the flick of that bejewelled wrist — and they all came running. They still might, you know, notoriety and celebrity are really close cousins.
Vijay Mallya made cash look cool — and made his lifestyle choices without guilt. (Photo: Reuters)
We all know that the really rich types have a thorny hedge around their world and we only get carefully curated views inside. Mallya threw all that away as he pulled away the silken screen and showed the world what it meant to be truly rich. I often wondered on which particular European playboy he seemed to model himself on. The name of Richard Branson were thrown about but that was more to do with the red upholstery of Kingfisher Airlines and the scorchy hotness of Yana Gupta.
He made cash look cool — and made lifestyle choices without guilt. Be it his horse racing or the circumference of a certain Bollywood diva's hat, a photo opportunity with the lord of the lager catapulted you to instant celebrity status. There was a derring-do about him.
Before we blame him for starting the trend of the absconding businessman, remember, he brought a careless giddiness to partying. It was the best thing to see nubile young women diving off his yacht in designer swimsuits. He made brand work look easy! The parties he threw even after his cricket team lost the match made us all realise here was somebody who wasn't petty or small-hearted.
His largesse ensured that quite a few careers were funded, from models to brand ambassadors. Whatever we may accuse him off, and there is material aplenty, he wasn't cheap. True, the trendy things he did were 'trendy' elsewhere already. Like the Kingfisher calendar — but he could milk a story out of it. The theme, the location, the setting, the hair, the make-up, the clothes, the aquamarine waters.
Mallya made lifestyle sexy — if you have it, flaunt it without guilt. (Photo: India Today)
He binged on beauty — and called himself a connoisseur. Who could blame him? The money that came from the sale of millions of bottles of beer was hardly going to run out. He could afford to play on a grand scale. He would buy his sports cars and show off with nonchalance and there'd be some little guy in a smaller city who would begin dreaming of having one someday. The chosen ladies for his brand projects suddenly got assignments they could cherry-pick and that made a young girl in a nowhere town think of hitting Mumbai and trying her luck.
Mallya made lifestyle look sexy.
If you have it, flaunt it without guilt. The pleasure of life are great, if you can afford them. That he could get the luminaries of the cricket teams of the world dancing to the Kingfisher tune shows the kind of pull that he could command. He could pay for outlandish bills, international superstar rates for a day-long photo shoot and sport diamonds of a size we usually see in a pea pod.
It wasn't meant to run out — the money, you know. He was an MP no less and he had a VIP passport. Then, the cheques started bouncing and the rest was twiddle dee and twiddle dum. He moved into a palatial British property and contemplated the future down the length of his Cuban cigar.
After the cheques started bouncing, he moved into a British property and contemplated the future down the length of his Cuban cigar. (Photo: AP)
Mallya is berated and besieged because of these very memories of an uber lifestyle.
There are many others who owe a lot more — but they did not invoke the same level of jealousy and envy as poor Vijay Vittal did. That is the price he is paying: picking up the empty bottles of beer when the party has wound down. His drunk guests have left him alone. If he can swing a deal or fight out his legal battles, they will all be back, thumping his shoulder and what not. Till then, we will just remember the man who combined the headiness of Bollywood and the charisma of cricket and poured us an irresistible cocktail!
Oh, and he is known for his temple rounds too.
Just in case you wanted to cut him a little slack.