Metro Diary

S. RAMESH KURUP

One of India's FINEST footballers in recent times, I. M. Vijayan is enjoying his passion for acting.

VILLAIN NO. 1

On the football field he can be described as a `fox in the box' but off it film-makers have found him perfect for a villain's role. One of India's finest footballers in recent times, I. M. Vijayan is truly enjoying his passion for acting. Having acted in a few Malayalam movies that did reasonably well, he has now forayed into Tamil cinema with his maiden venture, `Thimuru' (arrogant) where he plays the main villain. Vishal and Rima Sen are the lead pair and Gopi the director.

How did his `movie fame' reach Tamil Nadu? "Vishal recommended me after seeing my roles in Malayalam movies," said Vijayan. The lack of fluency in Tamil does not bother him. "I have a lot of fights to enact," he said.

All the acting has not dimmed his interest in football. "I continue to be with East Bengal," he said. "I have been playing a lot of sevens football in Kerala and that keeps me trim. Then there is my academy in Thrissur where I spend a lot of time. I still need to consolidate the academy, and that is possible with more sponsorship, and then there is politics," he reels off. It is clear that Vijayan continues to be as busy as he was as the undisputed `fox in the box'.

S. R. Suryanarayan * * * BALL AND BALLOT

BAICHUNG BHUTIA campaigns with West Bengal minister Ashok Bhattacharya.-PTI

Football and politics certainly do mix. The state elections in West Bengal have forged the unique combination. The stars of Kolkata's most passionate pursuit — football — joined different campaign trails lending their images to brighten the prospects of their favoured candidates. The list includes the likes of ace striker Baichung Bhutia and former Indian captains P. K. Banerjee and Prasun Banerjee among others.

Bhutia — the highest paid Indian footballer — was the most noticeable name as he travelled the length of the state. The candidates of his choice were themselves luminaries in political hierarchy.

Up north in Siliguri, Bhutia campaigned for the Left Front candidate and Urban Development Minister Ashok Bhattacharya. He told the gathering that his "choice was not determined by party preference but personal admiration for the politician."

Bhutia was back in Kolkata seeking the electorate's favour for Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. He and a clutch of East Bengal players, including the charismatic Goan Alvito D'Cunha and Syed Rahim Nabi, joined the cause of their club vice-president Manash Mukherjee who is a candidate from a constituency in suburban Kolkata. Prasun Banerjee also campaigned for Manash Mukherjee.

P. K. Banerjee, whose unique pep-talk to teams as a coach became famous as `vocal tonic', campaigned for another Left Front candidate, Rupa Bagchi from Kolkata.

Amitabha Das Sharma * * * SANIA ON THE BALL

Sania Mirza hardly interacts with the media these days. Yet, she understands her responsibilities while representing the country. Hours before catching the flight for the Federation Cup tournament in Korea, Sania was at ease with the media in Delhi, answering all the questions, and even entertaining the individual requests of a couple of television channels.

The assembled media was impressed with the way she was belting the ball, not showing any signs of the injuries that she was carrying. True to her words, Sania did try her best in Seoul, pulling her weight for the team's cause, snuffing the doubts of many who thought that she may not be able to play because of the injuries.

Kamesh Srinivasan * * * ALL CADDIE TALK

When caddies talk about behind-the-scene manoeuvres, it has mostly to do with betting.

At the Delhi Golf Club (DGC) course recently, the battle between two former caddies-turned-pros, Shamim Khan and Vinod Kumar, triggered a debate among the caddies. The youngsters were in the final of the SRF All-India Matchplay Championship, with a winner's cheque of Rs. 2,57,200 at stake. In the past, Vinod caddied at the DGC for a Delhi-based family associated with Mercedes Benz. When he made his first pro final, the family promised to give Vinod a matching amount of the top prize if he triumphed.

The family's announcement aroused interest; every caddie was ready to bet that the eventual winner would be Vinod. A consistent Shamim was two-up after the first 18 holes and when the second session began the caddies announced a quick turnaround. Vinod did win the 19th hole to reduce the margin before finally evening things out on the 21st. The caddie-talk that the two golfers had purportedly `fixed' the final appeared true. But Shamim regained the lead on the 24th hole and built it to three holes before winning on the 34th.

Kirti Patil