A good marriage would be between a blind wife and a deaf husband – Michel de Montaigne
The husband who wants a happy marriage should learn to keep his mouth shut and his chequebook open – Groucho Marx
The above mentioned quotes give an impression that it is a lot of hard work for a husband and wife to collaborate on work and business. However, these are just witty quotes. I believe that men and women not only collaborate to keep the family progressing in more ways than one, they also collaborate in many creative ways and it manifests very well in the Indian media business.
When about two months ago we were doing the ‘50 Most Influential Women’ initiative for IMPACT, it struck me that in the Indian media business the media barons and media moguls were acknowledged and celebrated but in most cases their lesser-known, lesser-celebrated and lesser-seen better halves were almost equal partners or at least important partners in creating and managing those vibrant media enterprises.
Dr Prannoy Roy has many times publicly said that he was offered a job by his wife Radhika Roy at NDTV and he gladly accepted it. Many people think he is joking when he says this but he probably isn’t. It may be a wee bit of exaggeration but one thing is certain that Radhika Roy clearly ran the company in the past or at least had a significant influence in key decisions – not just strategic ones but operational ones.
Radhika is present behind the scenes and impacts all important appointments. She is a wife that gets into details while Dr Roy does what he loves – being the public face of brand NDTV. Those who work at NDTV or are close to the company know the importance of the stamp of Radhika Roy on NDTV. The company has two pillars Dr Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy.
Currently with Dr Roy’s confidants Narayan Rao and Vikram Chandra running the company, Radhika might be off operational decisions but she still calls the shots with Dr Roy when it comes to strategic matters. I believe because of Radhika’s conscious strategy of keeping a low profile, she was ranked at number 47 in the IMPACT list.
Is the latest media baron Rajat Sharma of India TV following Dr Roy’s footsteps?
Rajat Sharma has successfully earned the spot of a media baron. While Dr Roy has been the most popular anchor on English News TV, Rajat Sharma is the most popular anchor on Hindi News TV. In fact some people call Rajat the Dr Roy of Hindi News and vice versa.
Both are formidable journalists and entrepreneurs. They also have a similarity i.e. their wives are their business partners. Ritu Dhawan who is MD of India TV Network has been clearly instrumental in building the successful India TV franchise and turning it into a profitable business.
Ritu in some way has been the implementer of plans that are jointly conceived. Rajat very much an editor and entrepreneur can focus on what he loves most – news, while Ritu can manage operations and be the business leader. Ritu was rightly acknowledged in the IMPACT list at number 48. Professionals at India TV know that Ritu is the soul of the company.
I would like to add a line in Hindi...‘Agar Rajat rooh hai to Ritu jaan hai India TV ki’.
Similarly, Dr Roy is the driving force and face of NDTV while Radhika is the co-driver or navigator.
Both business partners aka wives are professionals in their own right and sounding boards for their husbands.
Raghav Bahl who has changed the landscape of Indian media in more ways than one with Network 18 also has his wife Ritu Kapur working with him though her role and sphere of influence is not comparable to Radhika and Ritu of India TV.
By the way what is with the name of these partners and wives of Indian media barons that they start with the letter ‘R’? One should perhaps consult a numerologist to know how the future of Indian media holds with these ‘Rs’.
Raghav’s sister Vandana Malik who has worked with Raghav from the very start is another woman who was and is Raghav’s pillar of strength in building Network 18. She was rightly ranked at number 37 in IMPACT's list.
Ritu Kapur, with her programming prowess and little involvement in business besides her low profile did not make it to the list.
I know that Rajiv Shukla, media owner turned MP, and now an Honourable Minister and IPL Commissioner has always maintained an arm’s length from his broadcasting network BAG Films. Anurradha Prasad is the pivot on which BAG Network functions. Anurradha’s role, as the face of the company secured her number 29 rank in IMPACT's list.
Anurradha, as AROI President and someone who can get her voice heard in governance and policymakers corridors for the larger good of broadcaster community, has earned various accolades in the industry. She has earned her spurs while being an influential minister’s wife who would always tell you and rightly so that it's his wife who runs BAG and he is too busy with his responsibilities in the government. This is a husband-wife team or shall I say a wife-husband team who continue to leave their mark on the Indian media landscape.
Ronnie Screwvala, perhaps, is the best example of collaborating with his wife in the Indian media business. Ronnie is probably the best wealth creator among the media barons I have cited above in regards to his sell-out to Disney. Ronnie’s bindaas wife Zarina Mehta who is Co-Founder of UTV is a very successful and creative person. She is a very accomplished professional in her own right and has been behind UTV’s differentiated and bindaas programming. Zarina’s independent contribution and stature is ratified by ranking of number two in IMPACT's list.
These husband-wife pairs are influencing the minds of millions of Indians by empowering them, entertaining them and educating them.
These wives of Indian media owners unlike Indian audiences probably dont believe in the old anecdote, "My husband and I divorced over religious differences. He thought he was God and I didn’t." They believe that their husbands are Demi Gods if not God. They have followed them to the temple of work in Indian media. I celebrate their jugalbandi.