Way back in 1981, when Mumbai was Bombay and much of India was still trundling around in Fiat Padminis and watching Chitrahar on black and white Dyanora television, a young man by the name of Rohinton 'Ronnie' Screwvala was running about convincing residents of the tony Maker Towers in Cuffe Parade to subscribe to his video service.
His small cable TV network ran a three-hour video channel and was a welcome break from the monotony of state-run Doordarshan.
Soon he had thousands of households subscribing to his service for around Rs 200-250 per month.
That video service has mushroomed into UTV, India's first independent television and film production house, which the Walt Disney Company on August 3 offered to buy in a development that makes Ronnie's success saga almost like a Disney movie in itself.
The deal is valued at Rs 2000 crore. (At present, the $38- billion US-headquarted media giant controls 50.44 per cent.)
"He is the Indian Ted Turner," says an industry hand.
"When Turner entered the cable business in early 70s, there was no cable television in US. There were just three channels. Then, he did what other thought was impossible. He launched CNN and pioneered the live broadcasting news and it was game changer," said senior industry official.
Text: Varada H Bhat, Business Standard