Lavanya Speaks: The Ambani in SRK!


My generation grew up romanticizing the Raj and Rahul’s of the cinema world. I have dared to love the man behind these characters. Do you want to know why?

I do not remember the year, but I can claim to have met the king of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan. Clad in red, this man brushed past me on a fairly deserted station somewhere in Ooty. All I know is, he ruined my school vacation. Toy trains on the Nilgiri railway track were running behind schedule thanks to their filming.

For years, I narrated this sad tale to school friends as the reason behind my hatred towards him. As humans, we fancy taking an entirely polarized stand against any topic, situation or personalities. Some love to debate Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, others are critical about Jawaharlal Nehru’s political decisions and almost the entire nation has some opinion on Saurav Ganguly’s style of cricket.

So, while my peers were in love with Raj and Rahul, I used to love to hate him. For years, I never watched his movies, even today, I do not find his movies tasteful. They are undoubtedly good entertainment, but nothing to be written about.

But does it even matter? Does Shahrukh Khan of Bollywood even bother if some lady sitting in one corner of India is penning down a hate letter against him? Of course, it doesn’t. And, this is what I love about SRK. Grow so big in life that one person’s hatred doesn’t even come through to you.

He must be doing something right to be able to sit on an empire of $600million! Let me confess, I do not wait for his movies to release but I certainly do not miss even a single speech or a media byte given by him. That is the real him and I look up to this man.

He once said in an interview, “…since I am self-made, I’ll create a category for myself that did not exist before, will never exist after.”

Shouldn’t this apply to each one of us? Today, in the day of startups, when we are creating our own ventures, can we not do a better job at that? If we are our own creators, we might as well create something we can be proud of.

All of SRK’s movies might not be contenders at the Oscars, but he knows the pulse of the audience and captures it really well. He is for sure a better businessman than an actor.

In one of his interviews, he said that a good business is a simple product. Your business processes could be complicated, but on the face of it, the final product should be simple. Just like mobile phones with complicated circuits, yet an easy interface. How true is that! Why do we need to complicate everything? Apple is yet another example. The first iPod was probably one of the most difficult things to market. So, instead of getting into the technical aspects, they simply said, ‘1000 songs in your pocket.’

SRK believes that a business or investment needs to serve a purpose. Be it a soap or a telephone or a dream, it needs to change something. Most of us today work towards creating a venture to sell it off. Who cares about innovation or solving a problem? Startups are not new, the word is. Reliance was also a startup at one point. So were Tata and Birla. Imagine if everyone was trying to sell off their company all the time, what kind of a business environment would it be like?

One thing that I have picked up from SRK is that money should not be borrowed even for the purpose of business. It could be an old school thought, but I stand by it for it does not dilute your self-respect or ego (apart from equity). Earn the money yourself, a bit slowly, but you will create your own empire.

Yet another thing that I agree with SRK is that there is nothing called, ‘intelligent money.’ And, somehow, it does not come to people like us. We need to work and not live in a fairy tale. Just like a small businessman, keep a tab on your business, know everything on finger tips, but yet, be ready to pass it on to the next generation or in other words, delegate work.

SRK has time and again admitted to the fact that he is not the most talented, neither is he the best looking but has still survived the test of time by just being grounded. As entrepreneurs, we need to accept our limitations, work them around and face the world boldly.

As I write this, SRK is the proud founder of Red Chillies Entertainment, one of India’s biggest production houses. He owns India’s biggest Visual Effects Studios, Red Chillies VFX.  Kolkata Night Riders, co-owned by SRK, is one of most valuable Indian Premier League cricket franchises as on date. And, he has 26% shares in the Indian edition of the Latin American company, Kidzania. He now has his presence in the edutainment industry too. His real estate investments in Mumbai, London and Dubai total to more than INR 800 crores.

He truly knows his business well. He has hedged himself well.

I will take your leave now for SRK once said ‘do not become a philosopher before you become rich!’

Adios Amigos, back to work now to build my own empire!!!