Zee@20 | Rajdeep Sardesai: In 1992, no one believed a 24-hr channel was possible

01 Oct,2012

Rajdeep Sardesai

By Rajdeep Sardesai

 

I still remember the day in 1992 when I got a request to write about a private channel that was about to start and if I would be interested to meet the person behind the initiative. I was the city editor of the Mumbai edition of Times of India then. I went to the Worli office of Zee to meet Mr Subhash Chandra. During the course of the interview, he told me about Zee’s plans of launching 3-4 hours of entertainment programming, including films and serials, and then also told me about plans to make Zee a 24-hour channel.

 

After that meeting, when I came back to office and told my colleagues about it, no one would believe that the 24-hour channel was possible. My editor allowed me to make it front-page news about Zee. In 1992, a 24-hour channel drew apprehensions of whether it would work or not work. To tell you the truth, even I was sceptical. Who would believe that in 1992, a channel that would be uplinked from Hong Kong and would show 24 hours of entertainment would work! It was the era of Doordarshan. Even Star had not made a mark then. Frankly, none of us had foreseen the future.

 

But Zee has been ahead of the times in whatever they have done. In the media, they have successfully stayed ahead of the curve. And for this, the visionary Subhash Chandra deserves huge credit.

 

Zee, as it stands today, has become synonymous with certain kind of strength. Even though I am not sure about their news since it is kind of patchy, they have shown enormous strength in entertainment. Their success lies and has root in the ability to foresee the future.

 

I have another great memory of Subhash Chandra. We became good friends after the first article I wrote about Zee. We were members of the Bombay Gymkhana. And I have seen him many times sitting in a quiet corner of the club with his wife, and smoking a bidi. I am sure that even today he goes to the club, sits quietly, and smokes a bidi.

 

Mr Chandra was never flamboyant or has courted publicity, even when he has reached this stature. Over the years, I have secretly admired the manner in which he has risen to this position.

 

(As told to Ananya Saha)

 

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