D’Gamas ‘clueless’ about existence of Silly Souls

Late Anthony D’Gama, in whose name the Silly Souls Cafe had applied for and obtained a bar licence, had no knowledge of it, claims one of his sons Dale D’Gama residing in Mumbai

Silly Souls Café and Restaurant, Goa
Silly Souls Café and Restaurant, Goa

Santoshee Gulabkali Mishra

Please do not malign my father or family, says Dale D’Gama with a scowl. The family of late Anthony D’Gama, who passed away in May last year and left behind his wife Merlyn, sons Dean and Dale and a daughter Dona, had no knowledge of the Silly Souls Café at Assagao, he insists.

The cafe has been in the news following denial of union minister Smriti Irani that she, her daughter Zoish or her family owned or operated it. The controversy was triggered last month by a Goa based lawyer Aires Rodrigues who claimed that the café had no permission to construct the restaurants and that it had fraudulently obtained a bar licence in the name of Anthony D’Gama, a resident of Mumbai. He also alleged that the licence was renewed in the name of Anthony D’Gama even after his death.

His father was a sound engineer with a passion for music, informs Dale when this reporter caught up with him. Well known in Bollywood, his father had worked with musicians like Ismail Darbar and Jatin-Lalit, confides Dale, who himself is a music composer and DJ.

But while the D’Gamas have multiple properties in Mumbai and Goa, their lives revolved in Mumbai where all of them settled. It was only after the untimely death of his wife that Dean decided to leave Mumbai and settle in Goa, informs Dale. It was Dean who had the power of attorney to deal with the properties in Goa.

Dale (46) emphatically says, “We were clueless about this controversy till recently. Dean had taken the power of attorney from my father to manage administrative issues in Goa. We have no clue here about how a liquor licence was secured in our father’s name from the Excise Department. It is a complete mystery to us.”

He confirmed that his mother had been called by Dean D’Gama to Goa to deal with the controversy. According to media reports, Dean D’Gama has claimed that his family owned the café and restaurant.

According to Dale, the family has two ancestral properties in Assgao near Baga Beach in North Goa. Dean worked as a geologist in Australia and later settled with his family in Goa. After the sudden death of his wife, Dean decided to settle in Assagao.

“He took money from my dad Anthony to repair the old house. Dean rented out the house to tourists as a homestay. Initially he paid a rent of Rs 35,000 to my dad but went on reducing the rent. The last rent he paid was Rs 20,000 before the pandemic. Following the pandemic, he did not pay anything,” confirms Dale.

It was during the pandemic in 2020 that an application for a bar licence was submitted on behalf of Anthony D’Gama. It was around the same time that Assagao village panchayat permitted Anthony D’Gama to operate a restaurant. But Dale insists that Anthony D’Gama knew nothing about the bar licence or the restaurant.

Strangely, Dean never came to see his father when Anthony was hospitalised following Covid complications, shares Dale. It is possible that the power of attorney was misused, he reflects before hastening to add, “My parents are simple folks. They are well known in this area and my father was known for his integrity and passion for work. They would never get involved in anything that is not above board.”

The last word has clearly not been said on the ownership of Silly Souls café and restaurant in Goa; while Union minister Smriti Irani denied having anything to do with it and a single judge bench of the Delhi High Court ordered the Congress leaders to take down tweets alleging that the minister and her 18-year-old daughter owned it, the controversy continues to simmer.

Speculation was also fuelled when it became known that in his Instagram account Zubin Irani, husband of Smriti Irani, claimed to be the founder of both Silly Souls Café in Goa as well as Eightall Food & Beverages Ltd. The GST registration of the latter has the same address as the café at Assagao, Bardez, Goa. Moreover, in its annual return, Eightall Food and Beverages says it is in the business of selling food and beverages and shows an inventory of liquor though it does not have a bar licence, reported The Wire. Could it be using D’Gama’s bar licence?

(This article was first published in National Herald on Sunday.)

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