Tag Archives: Vijay Mallya

How come no one saw the IPL cookie crumbling?

The collapse of the Indian Premier League (IPL) pack of cards is identical to the unravelling of the Satyam fraud in 2009, from a media perspective. Namely, no media organisation—newspaper, magazine, TV station or internet website—saw it before it happened.

Or wanted to see it coming.

The player auctions, the franchise bids, the television rights, the glitz, the glamour, the sleaze were all unquestioningly swallowed and spewed out with nary an eyebrow raised.

Just three weeks ago, India Today magazine was putting the the IPL commissioner Lalit Modi—now accused of conflict of interest, nepotism, shady deals, corruption, sex, drugs, betting, match-fixing, and worse—on the cover, with a couple of cheer girls.

Till a week ago, The Times of India was happily having it both ways.

So, did nobody see it coming? At least one hand has gone up. Former Outlook magazine* journalists T.R. Vivek and Alam Srinivas co-authored a book on the IPL’s marriage of cricket and commerce last year.

In an interview with rediff.com‘s Krishnakumar Padmanabhan, Vivek says the red flags were visible from the very beginning.

Q: As an observer of the IPL from the early days, did you see any early warning signs? If so, what were they?

A: The very fact that cricket was being taken ‘private’ in one stroke was a red flag for me. It was quite similar to the East European countries embracing unfettered free market economics straight from the lap of Communism without any necessary groundwork for the transition. I was in a minority when I first raised questions about promoter motives, and antecedents.

What do a Mukesh Ambani or a Vijay Mallya know about the game to become cricket entrepreneurs? Are they here because it is their passion, or is it because owning a sports property was cool, and it propelled their social status higher than the already rarified echelons?

The franchise auction process left a lot of questions unanswered.

Another red flag for me was whether the Board of Control for Cricket in India had the management bandwidth, execution capabilities to embark on a novel idea such as this.

* Disclosures apply

Read the full interview: ‘Modi tinkered with the rules all the time’

Also read: How come no one spotted the Satyam fraud?

How come no one saw the worm turn?

The scoreline: different strokes for different folks

Look who is also in the IPL racket? An editor!


Gandhi for the goose ain’t Gandhi for the gander?

Mail Today, the tabloid newspaper published by the India Today group, has launched a smart print and outdoor campaign in New Delhi.

With the tagline “The world has changed”, the campaign pits the past with the present. Kapil Dev, in his classic bowling action, but with cheer girls in the background. The new maharaja of the air, not the Air-India one but the king of good times, Vijay Mallya. And so on.

But it’s the ad featuring Mahatma Gandhi with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi that has set tongues wagging.

Reason: only last week, editor-at-large S. Prasannarajan had nibbled at the styluses of “professional panegyrists” and “sundry mythmakers from the media” who had canonised the new Mrs G (Sonia Gandhi) as better and brighter than the old Mrs G (Indira Gandhi), a barely disguised barb at competitor Outlook* which had a recent cover on Sonia titled “Smarter than Indira“.

So, juxtaposing Mr G with the real Mr G is OK, but juxtaposing Mrs G with Mrs G is not?

Image: courtesy Mail Today

* Disclosures apply!

Allen J. Mendonca: Here’s looking at you, kid


CHETAN KRISHNASWAMY writes from Bangalore: Allen Mendonca slunk away in sleep, gently tip-toeing into the darkness never to return.

This time, his flamboyance was missing.

The swagger was not there.

There were none of the histrionics either.

49 is no age to exit out. Yet, he chose to do it his way. He never did believe in giving tortuous explanations to people.

The inexplicable emotions of the heart ruled over his mind most of the time. The unmistakable lilt in his voice and freewheeling gait was proof.

Anyway, he probably had his reasons to leave early.


For me, Allen was a friend and a supporter. For a million others, perhaps a hundred million, Allen was a friend and a supporter. His friends, like the stories he sourced, were diverse.

They included a broad swath of shallow socialites, dodgy journalists and plain beer-swilling louts. He bear-hugged  them all unmindful of their forked-tongues and crooked agenda.

Allen chose not to differentiate, not to be judgemental of people and that was his true strength, and perhaps his failing too. He practiced his vocation with the same sense of   ‘openness’ – writing on every conceivable subject with a freshness in perspective and prose.

On a good day, Allen’s writing was a piece of poetry.

On an ‘exceptionally good day’  it was deliciously defamatory. Bureaucrats and businessmen got slammed on their pompous backsides.

While some called it whimsical writing others swore by it and religiously began their day with Allen’s byline.

Everybody read it. Everybody spoke about it. And Allen, like the true showman,  loved the adulation, the applause.

On one occasion, he wrote a controversial piece on Vijay Mallya, and was forced to tender a written apology. I remember calling him that morning, expressing my disgust and railing against the world at large. Confronted by my shrill journalistic fervor, misplaced perhaps (?),  early in the morning, he merely  guffawed.

In 2002, as the visiting faculty of a journalism school, I had invited Allen, then Times of India’s metro chief, to share his experiences with the students.  Despite a late night, he was there at the Times’ office at the crack of dawn to ride in my bumpy car to the school that was located on the outskirts.

Needless to say, he won the kids over with his disarming charm and simple home-truths.

No profundities, no lofty ideological bluster, the challenges a reporter confronts are real.

The fun-part was after the interaction, when I drove the affectionate father to meet his son Aditya at the BGS International School nearby.

Much earlier, when I began my career with the Frontline magazine, Allen’s Christmas party was a turning-point for me. M.D. Riti, who had just quit The Week magazine, suggested that I apply for the position and pursue the opportunity. Allen and his wife Sandhya prodded me on to embark on this new adventure.

There are innumerable memories associated with Allen and recounting them all would be impossible. More recently, during his recent stint as editor of a city-based magazine, I would often run into him at Koshy’s.

The friendly wink and handshake remained unchanged, thankfully.


The last time I met him was on September 16 at friend Jessie Paul’s  book-launch. Sandhya did the author’s introduction.

Even as Sujit John of the Times, Darlington Jose Hector of Financial Chronicle, Benedict Parmanand of Rishabh Media Network and I bantered around in a group, Allen accompanied by a lanky Aditya made a quick entry,  shook hands with us and vamoosed.

He seemed in an obvious hurry that evening and we couldn’t spend much time.

A few days later, on the night of September  27, I called Madras-based journalist and friend Daniel P. George on his cell phone for a general catch-up session. Danny yelled over the din of a rambunctious party and told me that he was at the Leela Palace in Bangalore with Allen and his family.

I said, “have fun” and disconnected.

That night Allen, the friend, the supporter, went to sleep.

Photograph: courtesy Chandana Vasistha Aiyar via Facebook

Also read: Allen J. Mendonca, rest in peace

All the news fit to print, all the booze fit to air?

NDTV Good Times” is a lifestyle television channel that is the result of a collaboration between India’s leading English language television network NDTV, and India’s leading liquor manufacturer, United Breweries (UB).

On the face of it, “NDTV Good Times” may seem like a good idea for M/s Mallya & Roy.

For UB, the channel’s name gives the “King of Good Times” punchline of its Kingfisher beer constant, not-so-subtle on-air play given the ban on surrogate advertising. And, for another, UB gets the kind of content which it can then slap on the screens of the planes of its Kingfisher Airlines.

For NDTV, too, it is a win-win. It has another channel to offer viewers in its bouquet; it gets a stock-market listed media company some extra dough, an extra revenue stream; and it gives NDTV’s image of a media outsourcing company that it has craved and cultivated vide a deal with GenPact.

But can the relationship work the other way round, too?

Obviously, a liquor company can use the packaging of its products to advertise its own channel. But does it work on tipplers? Does it create greater awareness of the channel or the partnership? Do Kingfisher-drinkers remember to switch on the channel after the hypnogogic haze has vanished? Do the TRPs suggest that?

More importantly, can a serious media house like NDTV allow its brand image to be exploited on liquor boxes? Does it need to? Admittedly, the beer boxes are only pushing “NDTV Good Times” but can such a symbiotic relationship work without affecting the credibility of the main news and business channels?

Maybe, there is nothing puritanical about the Mammon-worshipping modern market place. Signage is important and getting the message any which way is all that counts to put some black ink on the bottomline. That may be OK for a liquor house, but for a media house in the news business?

Put another way, would New York Times allow its logo on Budweiser boxes even if Bud paid billions?

Cross-posted on churumuri

Rupert Murdoch eyeing print space in India?

There have been persistent rumours of it for a while now. Now Business Standard reports that Rupert Murdoch‘s Star group is indeed planning a foray in the print media in India.

Top executives of Star are believed to have visited Bangalore and held talks with liquor baron Vijay Mallya for a possible joint venture. Mallya owned the Tamil satellite channel Vijay TV before he sold it to Star. He also held the Bangalore franchise of Asian Age before letting go of it.

The possibility of Murdoch tying up with Aveek Sarkar‘s Ananda Bazaar Patrika group of Calcutta is also in the air. When rules of foreign direct investment in Indian television changed, ABP picked up Star’s stake. The two groups have also collaborated to launched the Bengali channel, Star Ananda.

Murdoch and Sarkar featured in Nicholas Coleridge‘s biography of the world’s great publishers, Paper Tigers, along with two other Indians, Samir Jain and Ramnath Goenka.

Photograph: courtesy New York magazine

Also read: How Murdoch dumbed down television news

All this, and Star Vijay and Star Bangla

An urgent telegram to Shri Rupert Murdoch