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Home > Entertainment News > Bollywood News > Article > Sandeep Bhargava on Subrata Roy He ensured that none who sought his help went back disappointed

Sandeep Bhargava on Subrata Roy: He ensured that none who sought his help went back disappointed

Updated on: 16 November,2023 07:24 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Hiren Kotwani |

Entertainment industry grieves loss of Sahara Group founder Subrata Roy, who won stars and common folks over with his trademark humility and compassion

Sandeep Bhargava on Subrata Roy: He ensured that none who sought his help went back disappointed

Subrata Roy

Subrata Roy, who passed away on November 14 at the age of 75 after a prolonged illness, played a key role in the careers of several film fraternity folks. Ever since his foray into showbiz in the early 2000s with Sahara One Motion Pictures, he not only backed several movies that set the trend with the advent of the multiplexes but also bailed out several actors and filmmakers from their financial crises. Apart from film production and distribution, Roy expanded his media conglomerate with news and general entertainment channels, too. 

Revitaliser of careers
That’s not all. His studio gave a new lease to the careers of actors like Sridevi and Karisma Kapoor with television serials like Malini Iyer and Karishma: The Miracles of Destiny on the group’s general entertainment channel, Sahara One. Moreover, several B-Town celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai were on the board of directors of Sahara entities. Not surprising then, that whenever any Sahara event was scheduled in Lucknow, where the group headquarters were located, most of Bollywood would fly down to show their allegiance to and solidarity with Roy. 
At the same time, it’s also not surprising that when Roy and his Sahara Group got caught in financial issues in 2011, several film industry folk began keeping their distance from the ‘controversial’ businessman. 

Actor’s unforgettable memories
However, few continued to associate with Sahara Shri, as he was called. One of them is Vivek Oberoi, who forged a bond with the businessman-industrialist before he began working with the latter’s studio. Beyond the equation they shared, the actor remembers two unforgettable instances. One is when the actor got injured during the shoot of Yuva on the Howrah bridge in Kolkata. “Even Mani Ratnam sir had a heart issue and had to be hospitalised. Ajay Devgn and Abhishek Bachchan were taking care of me. Sahara Shri called me, spoke to my father and took over—he organised the beat doctor and orthopaedic for me at Hinduja Hospital. When I was to be flown down to Mumbai, he got the front row seats of an Air Sahara flight removed so I could be accommodated with the stretcher,” recalled Oberoi. 
The actor was even more touched to see the business magnate had flown down to Mumbai to be by his side. He added, “After the surgery, while I was in and out of consciousness, Dada sat there by my side. It was great a gesture from Dada, a billionaire industrialist who had a tonne of things to do in his corporate empire.” 
The other instance was when the actor was getting married to Priyanka Alva in 2010. Businessmen, industrialists, politicians and VIPs were invited to the wedding, besides his friends and colleagues from the industry. “Even though he was a VIP himself, he asked if there was something he could do. Dada was there on stage like a family member, receiving guests, ensuring they were looked after, asking if anyone needed anything. That is what set him apart as a person; his honesty and integrity also continued in his relationships,” reminisced Oberoi. 

‘Rooted for home-grown tech’
That Roy later had issues with the authorities never changed Oberoi’s equation with him. The actor said, “Today, I genuinely miss the man who was like an elder brother and father figure who was there for me in my toughest and happiest times.”  
Praising the magnate’s patriotism, the actor said, “Many years ago, Dada would talk about the self-reliant India that we are seeing today. He didn’t want to buy a Mercedes till it was manufactured and assembled in India. He was the first to speak to me about organic food and distribution. Also, telecom through satellites, which Elon Musk is doing through his space link now. He was fiercely Indian and rooted for home-grown technology. In case of foreign tech, he’d insist on transfer/sharing of tech for things to be made in India.”

‘An optimistic visionary’
While Oberoi was outside the country and regretted not being able to see Roy one last time, veteran actor and politician Raj Babbar was on his way to Lucknow to pay his last respects to his dear friend. 
Madhur Bhandarkar, who has known Roy for 15 to 20 years, called him a visionary. He said, “He was always positive and helpful, not just towards those in the film industry and sports stars but also to people who worked in the Sahara Group. And irrespective of good times or bad, I’d always see him smiling. He would light up the room with his cheerful spirit. His positivity would cheer you up and dispel any negativity that was bogging you down.”  
Recalling his meeting with Roy a couple of months ago in the hospital where he was undergoing treatment, the filmmaker said, “I spent an hour with him, we spoke about movies and current affairs. He was always down to earth and enjoyed tremendous goodwill. He treated everyone with respect and ease. He was humble with everyone, whether it was someone from films, sports or politics. When someone came to him for help, he ensured that no one went back disappointed or heartbroken.” 

‘Mentioned OTT decade ago’
Sandeep Bhargava, who worked as the COO at Sahara India Motion Pictures (Sahara Movie Studios), credited the business magnate for ushering in corporate culture in the film industry. “The advent of the multiplexes had just about begun then. The kind of films we started with—Page 3, Malamaal Weekly, Sarkar, Bose: The Forgotten Hero—are proof of the kind of content he wanted to make and market through the studio. The other studios started following suit after 2006,” he said. 
He revealed that while OTT is witnessing a boom today, Roy was the first to think of a streaming platform a decade ago.  Bhargava added, “When I joined him again in 2013, he spoke about launching Sahara QCloud, India’s first OTT platform. He was a visionary in every sense of the word.”

‘His humility set him apart’
What made Roy an influential person for the film fraternity was not the clout he wielded, but his humility and compassion, said Bhargava. “He was always there for those who needed his help or needed to be bailed out in difficult times. Not just the film fraternity, sports stars and politicians, but common people. For him, those working in the Sahara Group were a part of the family. He would always remember your name, the last conversation, address you by your first name, first ask how you are doing etc., before getting down to business. His human side is what set him apart from the others,” he said.

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