Bollywood Celebrates World Cup Kickoff

1:00 AM PST 06/13/2014 by Nyay Bhushan
Disney/UTV India
Actor-producer John Abraham seen here in the 2007 film "Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal".

Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and John Abraham were among the top stars sharing their excitement on social media, despite the late live airtime in India.

Indian football fans are gearing up for a whole month of late-night television addiction after the World Cup kickoff Thursday. Given the time difference, the opening ceremony in Rio aired here on Sony network's Six sports channel past midnight, while the opening match between Brazil and Croatia began after 1 a.m.

But that doesn't seem to have dampened the spirits of fans, including top Bollywood stars who took to social media to share their love for the beautiful game even though India is ranked way down at 154th in the FIFA team rankings.

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"FIFA pre nuptials on now on Sony Six, what a fantastic run up, glued, hued and spewed, tonight is late-night delight!! FIFA opening! Been glued to TV since long and shall see the first game too! Me with Brazil ball!!" Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan wrote in a series of tweets. The film legend has been hosting the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire for over a decade, and is gearing up for the eighth season on Sony's flagship Hindi entertainment channel SET. 

Superstar Shah Rukh Khan—an avid sports lover who also owns a cricket team—posted a picture of himself as a player holding a football stating, "And on the most exciting note. ... I am completely over the moon with FIFA starting. TV glue ready!!!"

In his 2006 release Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna (Never Say Goodbye), Khan played a football player who is forced to retire after an accident. Khan also delivered the well-received 2007 hockey drama Chak De India, in which he played the coach of a women's team.

"No other sport can unite the world at a global level like football. So much untapped potential for social good,” tweeted former Disney India managing director Ronnie Screwvala. The co-founder of the UTV media conglomerate, which was acquired by Disney, is a founder of the Swades Foundation, which is engaged in various social development projects nationwide.

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Lending some Bollywood glamor to the World Cup coverage, actor and producer John Abraham was among the guests on Cafe Rio, Sony Six's pregame show, which will air throughout the event. The show also features international football players, including Peter Crouch from England and Mikael Silvestre from France. A passionate follower of the game, Abraham starred in the 2007 football drama Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal. He is also prepping a biopic titled 1911 based on the late Indian footballer Sibdas Bhaduri. Abraham will star in the lead role. In addition, the actor owns a football team in the Indian Super League (ISL).

Sony Six is also airing a daily live breakfast show, Football Extraaa, providing in-depth analysis of the matches aired the previous night. The network's World Cup coverage has bagged key sponsors including leading auto company Hero MotoCorp, Indian smartphone brand Xolo Mobile and Microsoft.

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