>> His was the face that moved markets and it is not an exaggeration to say that every bon mot that fell from the lips of Udayan Mukherjee, managing editor, CNBC-TV18, had a direct impact on Dalal Street. For 15 years, this suave and reticent Kolkata boy had ridden the economic boom in India reporting its peaks and troughs from the trenches, telling people what to invest in, what to avoid and which stocks were imminently air-borne.
So, when he put in his papers this week and decided to step down from the media house that he had built one news bulletin at a time, the repercussions were felt in all market sensitive locations across the country -- from Dalal Street to Nariman Point to South Block. Citing personal reasons for the decision, Mukherjee said, “At this stage of my life, I need to devote more of my time to other personal passions and interests.
I have had a rewarding and enriching 15-year stint with Network18 but of late the responsibility of running the channel had become repetitive and I had a difficult time motivating myself to continue.” The very posh Shereen Bhan has been asked to step into Mukherjee’s chair. Now, whereas newsroom fatigue and the pressures of the corner office get to most journalists -- even the best of them -- is there more to the resignation than meets the eye is what people are asking.
After all, TV18 witnessed a messy media battle last month when four top editors of Forbes India were allegedly forced to quit over what Indrajit Gupta (Editor), Charles Assisi (Managing Editor), Shishir Prasad (Executive Editor) and Dinesh Krishnan (Director, Photography) say are compensation issues, specifically, the management’s inability to honour ESOP obligations. What’s going on at the powerful and high-profile media group? Why have the disgruntled journos said they will be seeking redressal from Mukesh Ambani, who, according to them ‘has a special position of influence in the media group,’ along with Raghav Bahl, the group’s founding editor? And will the coming weeks see more high profile resignations?
Top league marriage
>> There’s much joy over the imminent marriage of Karan and Natisha, the progeny of two very prominent and respected Marwari clans -- the Saraogis and the Sarafs. And whereas it is well known that the graceful Arun and Namita Saraf own hotels (Grand Hyatt) in Mumbai, Kolkata and Nepal, the Saraogis -- leading industrialists of Kolkata are among the top three sugar mill owners of the country.
Balrampur Chini mill is said to be run successfully with a strong female hand. Another strike out for female power is that Karan is two years young than his fiancée, Natisha. A new trend where older girls are getting married to younger boys. We like!
>> They are keepers of some of the country’s most sensitive information, celebrated for their discretion, loyalty, dependability and unparalleled emotional intelligence, and amongst the community of all powerful and all knowing secretaries to corporate statesman who else but Mukesh Ambani’s major domo Venkat holds pole position? Extremely low profile to the point of invisibility this unassuming man wears his power lightly. “Top politicians call him for favours like using the company plane,” said an insider. “He is undoubtedly the most powerful secretary in the country today.”
But, of course, as in all things, it’s quality and not quantity that counts. Whereas MDA has but one uber gentleman, other wannabe peripatetic statesmen have to make do with many more of lesser talent. “The jet-setting, car crazy textile tycoon has six. The charming heir to a once flourishing now floundering steel empire has four,” said our source. “As for the ambitious banker who gets into the news for all the wrong reasons he too has four: one takes dictation, one does logistics, one for social engagements and the last one for god alone knows,” we were informed.
Old friends, good friends
>> Difficult times bring out the best in people. Not so long ago, both Bollywood and society circles had been agog with the alleged fallout between Parmeshwar Godrej and the Roshans. The cool vibes had been a result of a misunderstanding about the decorating of the Roshan home. Hrithik, after the smash hit debut of his first film, Kaho na Pyaar Hai, had gone to the stylish diva (who had taught Bollywood and most of Mumbai society how to dress, entertain, live, sip champagne and who had brought the concept of Spanish haciendas to the bylanes of Vile Parle and Pali Hill) to request her to do up his home. And even though Parmesh, at that time, had stopped doing interiors, the charming young man’s sweet request had found favour.
But halfway through the project, trouble had risen between Suzzanne (then an aspiring decorator) and Parmesh about the provenance of the decoration, which resulted in Parmesh opting out of the project. Those who know how close Parmesh had been to Suzzanne’s parents Sanjay and Zarine were aghast at this development. After all, with their homes a De Beer’s stone’s throw away from each other in Juhu, Suzanne had literally grown up under the Godrejs’ fond gaze. But like we said difficulties bring out the best in people.
With Hrithik recovering from his surgery and Suzzanne understandably besides herself with worry and concern, Parmesh had put aside all past issues and made a beeline to the hospital to reassure and comfort the young wife and mother. After all, life’s too short (and unpredictable) to bear grudges!
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