From industry executive to media visionary: Sanjay Raina

It was a hot summer afternoon in the year 1999 that a paunchy, bespectacled fair skinned gentleman walked into my room. I had just taken over as the Marketing Head for Sony Pictures and was given the portfolio of Walt Disney Theatrical products. The world at the same time was abuzz, specifically Hollywood, about the launch of ‘Toy Story 2’.

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Dec 1, 2008 8:32 AM
From industry executive to media visionary: Sanjay Raina

It was a hot summer afternoon in the year 1999 that a paunchy, bespectacled fair skinned gentleman walked into my room. I had just taken over as the Marketing Head for Sony Pictures and was given the portfolio of Walt Disney Theatrical products. The world at the same time was abuzz, specifically Hollywood, about the launch of ‘Toy Story 2’.

The ‘gora chitta’ Mumbaiwala introduced himself and immediately said, “You know what? The size of our noses is nearly the same!” This was possibly the best introduction someone ever had made to me and I immediately warmed up. We started talking and one thing led to another. I was floored. The media industry was in its infancy and here was this man who has already accomplished so much. Rohinton was then, amongst other things, actively involved in the advertising sales function for Cartoon Network. I told him he need not sell Cartoon Network to me. He sprang up, looked around and said, “I am here to learn and plan how to promote animation products in India. Do you have an objection to that?” I said “No”. We got talking again. He talked about ‘Toy Story 2’. In another 10 minutes he talked about Walt Disney company. He talked about Michael Eisner and his legendary corporate battle with Jeff Katzenberg. That conversation to me was the best orientation I’ve ever received about the company that I was representing. He said, “Let do something together”. I nodded my head.

He picked up my phone, a land line those days. In about 10 minutes having spoken in English and Gujarati he had a deal. A confectionery giant based out of Mumbai, a publication based out of Mumbai and ‘Toy Story 2’ were the likely partners with Cartoon Network giving air time. I was amazed and frankly my jaw fell. Remember those days, we would see cell phones only in the pockets of the privileged and emails were allocated as if they were manufacturing licenses doled by the government to the industrialists. But he still managed to get all the parties to talk together and here was possibly one of the best cross promotion deals stitched together by the most unlikely of the partners and any of the Hollywood studios.

Months and years passed by and Rohinton grew from being a simple media industry executive into a media visionary and all his accomplishments at such a young age confirm that. His exceptional work for Cartoon Network, Zee, etc., was path breaking. He had this love for gadgets too and was possibly the first person I saw carrying a PDA. And his smile. It was electric.

Many years later, the cellphone buzzed again. I had moved to Delhi working for HT. We were about to launch in Mumbai. “Mr Raina, this is your friend Rohinton here”. “Go on Maloo ji”. “How can you launch in Mumbai without having a great outdoor site in Worli?” “Sell it to me, Mr Maloo”. Within minutes I received his email alongwith the site details and photographs. Within minutes the deal was confirmed. The site possibly ranked as the best amongst all the sites we planned then during the launch phase.

Rohinton, people like you never die. They just move to a different world!! Keep it warm, Buddy.

On my part I shall never delete your contact number. God knows when I would need it to put a new ‘deal’ together.

With regards, respect, love, smiles

(Sanjay Raina, Astro Television, Jakarta, Indonesia)

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