Sanjay Gupta conferred with exchange4media Influencer of the Year Award

In a career spanning 20 years, Gupta, Country Manager, Star & Disney India, has spearheaded innovations in branded entertainment & expanded TV content to digital through Hotstar

by exchange4media Staff
Published - Sep 24, 2019 8:30 PM Updated: Sep 27, 2019 11:29 AM

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Sanjay Gupta

The exchange4media Influencer of the Year Award 2019 was awarded to Sanjay Gupta, Country Manager, Star & Disney India, on Tuesday.

Gupta has been instrumental in driving Star’s growth by taking bullish risks. He has been responsible for curating strategy and vision in entertainment, sports, digital and studios. With over 20 years of experience in the television industry, Gupta has innovated in branded entertainment content, and introduced new content and genres across regions. He has been deeply rooted in building the sports business through acquisition of rights for marquee content for events like the Indian Premier League (IPL).


Gupta has also expanded traditional television content to digital platforms through Hotstar and overseen the adoption of HD channels. He has been instrumental in curating Hotstar, India’s first media-led company powered through technology.


After accepting the award, this is what Gupta had to say: “Most people think of Star as the country’s largest broadcaster. Some associate us with our streaming service, Hotstar. Others talk about our films and studios business. However, I believe we are in the business of telling stories.

I feel I am blessed to be in a business where with our stories, we have the power to challenge status quo, make people think about relevant social issues, encourage them to be an agent of change and above all inspire a billion imaginations.

On Star Plus, our attempt has been to create powerful characters like Ishita and Naira, who constantly challenge the stereotype and orthodoxy that has stood in the way of progress of our women. Ishita, a barren woman married a divorced guy. She also became the main supporting earning member of the family and Naira, a single mother, went back to education after marriage.”

The Country Manager of Star & Disney India went on to say: “We have always believed that legacy is limiting, and disruption is liberating and enriching.

Who would have thought that in a nation obsessed with cricket, a ‘rustic’ and rural sport like kabaddi could capture the imaginations of millions of people? But PKL did just that by becoming the second most watched sport content in the country.

Even we did not imagine that in a country where smart phones were limited and data was expensive, that 300 million fans in a month would come to Hotstar and enjoy their favourite game of IPL or World Cup. And Hotstar has been around only for four years.”

In conclusion, Gupta said: “The thoughts that string together all such bold moves is our desire to challenge the status quo. We believe that in a world where dramatic changes are happening at an unprecedented pace, either we disrupt ourselves or others will disrupt us. That belief, that commitment is what drives each one of us at Star.

The achievements of Star are all on the back of a team which dreams big, executes brilliantly and is comfortable with the idea of disrupting itself. I feel proud to lead this talented and passionate team.”

On Gupta winning the Influencer of the Year award, this is what other veterans from the industry had to say:

 Uday Shankar, President, Walt Disney Company APAC and Chairman of Star & Disney India:

 Sanjay is by far the best executive and leader that the Indian media and entertainment industry has currently got. No exceptions. For Star and the media industry. But when it comes to Star, I don't think Sanjay gets enough credit for what he has done. Most of what I have achieved today, would have been impossible without Sanjay. The only way I can describe him and our relationship is like two batsmen playing together at two different ends, and they've had a great partnership over these long years.

 K Madhavan, Managing Director (South), Star India

 His cool and his execution bandwidth is really commendable. He can do anything with ease and vision, and that is one of the best qualities I have seen in Sanjay as my colleague.

 Karan Johar, Filmmaker, Dharma Productions

 Heart-felt congratulations to Sanjay Gupta on winning this most deserving award of 'Influencer of the Year'. I have known Sanjay for many years and we've had a very successful, lucrative and solid relationship. Sanjay now is going to play such an integral part in the Star-Disney alliance, where these two power houses come together, and he will of course be the fulcrum of that solid association.

 Rahul Johari, CEO, BCCI

 e4m could not have found a better person than Sanjay for the 'Influencer of the Year' award. The BCCI and Star India have an extremely strong and deep relationship, and Sanjay is one of the axes of that relationship. We are proud of our association with Sanjay and I am personally proud to be known as one of Sanjay's friends.

 Gaurav Banerjee, President & Head, Hindi GEC, Star India

 One of the first things Sanjay did when he came to Star India was that he worked on the repositioning and relaunch of Star Plus - the idea that became 'Rishta Wahi, Soch Nayi'. One big inspiration point there was that we felt a new idea of Star Plus needed to be articulated. There was a saying he had in his room when he first started working at Star: “Life is tough, but I am tougher”. And I think that is Sanjay.

 Gayatri Yadav, President, Consumer Strategy & Innovation, Star India

 I have a 'four S” framework for Sanjay. The first is 'Socratic', Sanjay will challenge you on every assumption, he'll begin every strategy discussion with “What are we solving for?” And it's through this challenge that you really get to the heart of the matter. At times it can be really tough, you can walk in and he can completely rubbish your plans, but through it you'll realise clarity and conviction.

 The second S is stamina, not just normal stamina, but super-human stamina. Sanjay is always the first to walk into the office and the last to leave.

 The third S is scale. Sanjay really challenges all of us to think big and to think beyond, and he is never excited unless it's dramatic impact, billion dollars, huge scale.

 The fourth S is perhaps the one that is least known. Sanjay, beneath that challenging exterior, he is quite a “softy”. He has a sentimental heart that really cares for people and the society, and the impact we make as a media company.

 CVL Srinivas, Country Manager- India, WPP

 I'm delighted to hear that Sanjay Gupta has been chosen as 'Influencer of the Year'. Sanjay is a fantastic business professional and also a very dear friend. He has been working very silently behind the scenes, to drive change and transformation at Star. He is extremely deeply rooted in his knowledge of the consumer or viewer and that really has benefitted his organisation. Those of us who work closely with him realise that he is a professional who is extremely fair in all his dealings. It has been a real pleasure working with you all these years Sanjay, and I look forward to many more. All the very best and congratulations again.

 Jalaj Dani, Co-promoter, Asian Paints and Director, Reliance Foundation

 Congratulations Sanjay on winning this award, and I'm sure there are many more on the way. I have known Sanjay for many years now. We have worked together in different capacities and different roles, but it has always been a very professional relationship. He is not only very thorough, but he is also very insightful.

 Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPG Mediabrands

 He has repeatedly done breakthrough work and always taken a forward looking step. I really thought getting into IPL, both Hotstar and TV broadcast, was really a big, bold, gutsy move.

 Prashant Kumar, CEO, GroupM- South Asia

 His ability to get sharper, his ability to look at things from a lateral perspective, are two aspects which have always been interesting. But if I were to look at it from a unique perspective, I think he also always challenges the status quo.

 Rajan Shahi, Founder, Director's Kut Productions

 Through all the phases, of all the shows, Sir, I admire and cherish the moments, when you personally meet and you give a momento, like recently when we crossed an historical 3,000 episodes, which is the first time in Hindi GEC that a show has ever done more than 3,000 episodes. I remember how you appreciated us and the beautiful momento you gave. These things really matter and motivate us. Thank you so much Sir, and I wish you the very best always.

The 2018 exchange4media Influencer of the Year Award was given to Virendra Gupta, Founder & CEO, Dailyhunt and Umang Bedi, President, Dailyhunt.

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