Dino and LaraDino Morea, driving to Pune on the slick expressway, is a man on high speed. He’s always been a friends and family kind a guy, was the first to tote a six-pack before Bollywood made a shoo-sha of them and has maintained a fitness regime of everything from football to basketball to jogging even today.

He’s in the process of fulfilling one of his many dreams – building a treehouse, and is mourning the loss of one of the dearest members of his family – Sir Sly – even as he launches restaurants for his brother Nicolo across the country and steers little brother Santino into his film career “He is currently assisting Karan in My Name is Khan, and I’m waiting for him to come run the production company I’ve started for him.”

Though the middle brother, Dino has always seemed the hub around which his borthers’ lives set into place. “My brothers and I, we’re a team. We’ve always supported each other. My oldest brother Nicolo is the restaurauteur, so I support him in that though we are essentially in business together. From the flagship Crepe Station at Bandra, we now have 10, but we’re heading towards 100 across the country. But it’s his thing, I’m just the face,” he says. The duo is also launching a new pub and bar at Bandra called The Elbow Room. As for little brother, Dino quips, “Ha ha, sure I’m protective of him but it’s also selfish — I put him through film school, so now I get to say you come work for me… Just kidding. We do sporadic ads now but I want to find interesting scripts, new young directors and when Santino has done his training and learned, he will come and handle it all.”

Though he candidly confesses his film career is slagging (with only Acid Factory releasing and a cameo in Pyaar Impossible despite all his Bollywood friendships) and that he’s made many mistakes. “I’m in no rush to go sign up films that would be a mistake like the many mistakes of my past,” he shrugs. Instead, Dino’s got himself excited about the new merchandising company ‘Cool Maal’ along with Pidilite heir Malay Parekh that has signed up Yuvraj Singh and skipper MS Dhoni — recently declared the biggest sports brand in the world by Forbes India. “We have the rights to these guys for the next couple of years. While all over the world sports merchandising is a huge business, it doesn’t really exist in India.” The company will retail a range of everything from mouse pads, coffee mugs, tees, school bags and kits, “all the fun stuff” Dino says, “We’re even getting them caricatured. And we may even get into the home furnishing space so you never know what you’ll get…”

No matter how fast he is going, Dino sounds measured, calmer, and very in control of life’s plans, despite an underlying newfound heaviness to his voice. “Sir Sly (his recently deceased dog) was only three years old. He caught a tick fever and it went to his brain and despite our best efforts he slipped away in three days. I now have Patch (the Dalmation who Crepe Station Bandra regulars will recognise as the lounging giant on the floor) and Slidey “a stray that my parents had adopted and christened in Bangalore.”

This past year has also not been very kind to him on the personal front – with heavy speculation about girlfriend Lara Dutta and the loss of best bud of several years Kelly Dorjee. He doesn’t spell it out but he sounds hurt at the mention of a confessional by Kelly in a leading society rag, and says “Ya well… I guess he did what he had to do. I don’t want to comment on that. All I can say yes I was dating someone for a while, but we have split and gone our separate ways. I am now definitely single.”

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