Vijay Mallya has a close friend in Delhi. Let's call him G. He holds Mallya in high esteem and the two businessmen talk to each other frequently. But in the last few days, ever since news broke out that Diageo would acquire Mallya’s United Spirits, G has held back from calling his old friend.
"I don’t know if I should congratulate him," says G. "After Kingfisher Airlines [was grounded], he seems to have lost the Midas touch."
The loss of business and the bad press Mallya has got on Kingfisher Airline, G fears, will crimp his friend’s flamboyant lifestyle.
Mallya, it hurts G to admit, will have to lie low for a while.
Even if he doesn't, it will be a long wait before the media warms up to him once again.
The famous tag of "king of good times", used equally for Mallya and his Kingfisher beer, has been punned mercilessly in newspaper headlines to highlight the trouble in his airline.
Mallya's recent comments, and tweets, reveal his angst.
On January 10, almost nine months before Kingfisher Airlines' licence was suspended, he had tweeted: "Looks like certain media houses are on a paid and highly motivated mission to discredit Kingfisher (Airlines) and encourage shift of traffic (to other carriers)."
On October 28, when he came for the Formula One Grand Prix at Greater Noida in his private Airbus (there was speculation that he wouldn't do so, as the jet may be impounded by his cash-strapped airline’s creditors), he let out another broadside: "You believe Indian papers have any credibility?"
Text: Indulekha Aravind, Malini Bhupta and Probal Basak, Business Standard