Mumbai, July 17 – Barely hours after Spain won the World Cup, Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor was fatigued and yet euphoric in Johannesburg. He had seen what he called the greatest show on earth. He was bowled over by two people – Nelson Mandela and Shakira.
Being the brand ambassador to South Africa, Anil had a ringside view of the match. And he’s most impressed.
‘You have to understand the World Cup final was a self-contained experience. And the way the South African government put it together is exemplary for all, including us Indians who struggle against countless glitches when we host an international sporting event. On Sunday evening here in Johannesburg there were no glitches, no traffic jams on the roads, no seating errors, no jostling and no VIP interventions. Everything went smoothly. I’d describe it as the greatest show on earth,’ he told IANS.
Anil was bowled over by Shakira. ‘What a presence! What a performance! She just took everyone’s collective breath away and set the right mood for the match.’
The match itself was touch and go, and Anil was hooked. ‘The final moments proved decisive for Spain. I realised what edge-of-the-seat excitement meant. I forgot everything in the final moments of the game, including the fact that I had flown in and had to fly out within 24 hours. It was just 96,000 people staring open-mouthed in a stadium built specially for the occasion.’
But the greatest most moving moment of the match was when Nelson Mandela arrived.
Anil chokes with emotion. ‘I first met Mandela for my film ‘Gandhi My Father’. But I can never get over my awe and admiration for the man. The elaborate and elegant way he arrived for the match just bowled me over. Because of his grand-daughter’s accident Mandela had not come for any of the other matches. But he made it a point to come for this one because his country hosting something so spectacular was matter of great pride for him. I just kept looking at him wondering how vindicated Mandela must be feeling to see a country he had brought to freedom, celebrating its freedom with such a wonderful event.’
Anil ran into some of his colleagues from Bollywood at the stadium. ‘It was great meeting Shah Rukh and Gauri, though they sat in a different area from mine. What I really enjoyed was meeting Shah Rukh’s son Aryan for the first time. What a bright goodlooking boy. He sure is a chip off the old block.’
On Monday, Anil was getting ready to return to Mumbai. ‘I’ve to be back to carry on with the marketing of my daughter’s film. I can’t wait to see its release Aug 6. After that I’m taking a month-long holiday in LA. I think I’ve earned myself a break.’