Let’s start from your growing up years to how it all began?
Well then we need to turn the clock back a few decades. I went to the prestigious Campion School Mumbai and subsequently to Sydenham College where I did my B. Com (Hons) (incidentally he stood 2nd in the University of Mumbai). My father and his friend Mr.Nani Palkhivala (the noted lawyer) were not impressed with my interest to become a businessman since both of them were very successful and reputed professionals in their respective fields. So at their instance, I went ahead and became a Chartered Accountant. I also started teaching Chartered Accountancy. But I always wanted to be a businessman. Soon we ventured into the textile business by starting a weaving unit in Charkop and also set-up a small construction company. Unfortunately both the businesses were sliding southwards and the debts were moving northwards at an alarming pace. It became clear that we had to discard one business for the other to survive. Without a doubt it was a very difficult decision to take. We’ve always believed that when you are in a confused state of mind wait for an answer from the Almighty.
The union in the weaving unit demanded 100% increase in wages. To us that was it; we realised that God had send us a signal to wind up the textile business and focus only on Construction. Since then we haven’t looked back.
Powai was known as a picnic location. Why did you choose Powai for your first-mega township?
We did construction work at Versova, Parle, Mulund and Malad. The first large project was at Lokhandwala, Andheri (W). We were personally very happy with the design and construction quality but not happy with the surroundings of the buildings. This is when we decided that our next project would be a world-class township that would be considered one of the best in the city.
Of course, we did not have large resources but there was no shortage of passion. We realised that our dream project required acres of land. Powai was an ideal location, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The striking features of Powai that appealed to us were its lake, the hills and greenery. The land was available and with our commitment, we knew that we could create our dream project right here in Powai.
How difficult was it to put up a township of this size and stature?
Very challenging, I must say. But then we’ve always loved challenges. You must realise that Powai had no roads, no water, no electricity... But we saw an opportunity in this challenge. We could design the entire infrastructure for the township exactly the way we wanted it to be. For us, it’s never about proving anything to anybody or competing with anybody. We challenge ourselves by setting our own standards and then raising the bar. Yes, we worked hard and even worked on Sundays for almost 20 years. Today we look back and feel good on our contribution towards the good lifestyle for thousands of residents living here.
What have you to say when people mention that the hospital was built because your father is a doctor?
We made the school when we were borrowing large funds, as the school was the need of the project. With regards to the hospital, we always wanted to make a world class hospital. Today, we have almost 250 doctors (full time and visiting) doing extensive work in IVF & surrogacy clinic, cancer care, innovative wound care and hyperbaric oxygen therapy, physical rehabilitation, obstetrics and gynecology, etc. Here I need to mention that recently the hospital was able to successfully conduct a liver transplant of an 84 year old patient. So when the hospital rescues the lives of patients it gives us the greatest satisfaction. We were also awarded the International Asia Pacific Hospital for quality in 2009.
Do all your projects across India and abroad have the same look ?
We have business interests in Nasik, Ahmedabad, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Dubai to name a few places. We wouldn’t want to use the word ‘same’ but definitely ‘similar’. Each of our townships whether in India or abroad will carry our signature look. All buildings in the complex will appear to be a part of the family but no two buildings will be the same. Take a look at the buildings in Powai. And you’ll know what I mean. Across the complex the buildings look similar but when you take a closer look you’ll realise that every building has a distinct and unique character. As far as quality of construction, plumbing, electrical work, fittings, etc all of them have the same quality – the best!
How do you spend your Sundays?
I try to go to the garden for a walk. It’s normally followed by a couple of business meetings. Then I catch up with friends, spend time with my grandchild and also squeeze in some time to relax.
Do you watch movies?
I am not a big movie buff. I used to accompany my wife to the movies earlier but of late she has stopped watching movies. I should be asking her the reason!