Mr. Ronnie Screwvala was the final speaker in the Samanvay 2015 lecture series held at IIT Madras. Samanvay is the annual Business fest conducted by the Department of Management Studies.
Mr. Screwvala has been named one of Esquire’s 75 most influential people in the 21st century; he was also called ‘Jack Warner of India’ by the Newsweek magazine. During his session, Mr. Screwvala revealed how he always wanted to be an entrepreneur. The challenges he faced and how he overcame them inspired the students.
He started by speaking about his first venture, selling cable TV. It was a new concept at the time when only Doordarshan was available on TV. He said that it took him 1 year to get his first customer and he got 10000 customers by the end of the second year. Even when the business was doing well, he was still wanting to do better. He approached TV manufacturers and hotels to gain more customers and always pushed his colleagues with higher targets.
Mr. Screwvala has produced successful Bollywood films like Rang De Basanti and Delhi Belly. While discussing the movies he produced, he said that along with the successes, there were many failures as well. The key is to carry on in spite of hurdles. Many industrialists are lured to producing Bollywood films, but very few continue to do so. He also shared the difficulty he faced during the release of the 2006 box office success Rang De Basanti. The censor board did not approve a scene in the movie where the then defense minister was portrayed critically in the film. He risked losing around Rs 40 crore in the film. However, the movie was released when Mr. Pranab Mukharjee himself watched and enjoyed the film.