What will Life be as India’s Most Powerful Media Professional Quits

08 Oct,2020


By A Correspondent


If there’s one person in Indian media and entertainment whose name is most appropriate it’s that of Uday Shankar. Uday, in English, means rise. And we know what a meteoric Uday and Uday Shankar has seen in his career.


But a few hours after sunrise today (October 8), our inboxes received a mail from Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer & International (DTCI) that Shankar will step down as President, The Walt Disney Company APAC and Chairman, Star & Disney India, with effective from December 31, 2020. This was announced by Rebecca Campbell, Chairman of Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer & International Segment.


So what is Indian media and entertainment’s most powerful professional going to be doing next. In his own words: “For some time now, I have been contemplating the question of how I give back to the country, community and the industry that have given me so much. I think the best way to express my gratitude to all of them will be to support and mentor a new generation of entrepreneurs as they set out to create transformational solutions that will have a positive impact on countless lives. I intend to partner with global investors and pioneers to achieve this.”


Clearly, he’s not moving to competition or an organisation like Jio etc. Or so his statement indicates.  And what happens at Disney APAC and Star and Disney India? Well, over the next three months, Shankar will work closely with. Campbell to identify his successor to ensure a smooth transition.


Here’s what Campbell said on the development: “I want to thank Uday for his leadership and dedication to our APAC business. With the successful launch of Disney+ throughout the region, he has helped put The Walt Disney Company in a commanding position in this dynamic and incredibly strategic part of the world. His vast experience and expertise have been invaluable in bringing together a strong, cohesive APAC leadership team to chart a path forward for our streaming businesses in the region and beyond. Uday has been a great friend, colleague and valued counsellor to me personally, and I know I speak for all of DTCI when I say he will be greatly missed. At the same time, I understand and respect his desire to make this change. I am extremely grateful that he has agreed to stay on to help ensure a seamless transition.”


And commenting on his decision to step down, Shankar said in the statement: “I have always believed in the power of creativity and cutting-edge technology to create a better world and consider myself incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to do so at Star, 21CF and now at The Walt Disney Company. As I look back on this journey, I take pride in having set ambitious goals in my professional career, and achieving all that we set out to do.”


Shankar has seen a fantastic rise in his career. When he quit Down To Earth magazine for his first TV job, he took a 60 per cent salary cut. Those who know him and have tracked his career would testify that Uday Shankar has always taken bold and smart moves in his career. The JNU alumnus has pride in being a journalist, and will always be one. It’s these traits that governed his dominance of the Indian M&E turf. From transforming Star India as a channel airing saas-bahu shows to taking up progressive issues around women and society. The foray into sports and OTT and growing the entire organisation to being a media mega-empire. He has always believed in straightspeak and spoken his mind at industry gatherings and meetings.


We are sure the attempt to get an equally powerful and visionary successor at Disney-Star. For, otherwise there could be some tectonic changes at not just the flagship Star India network but also change the balance of power in the media and entertainment sector.



For, Uday Shankar, who turned 58 last month, has been an M&E professional like few others. Will he mentor a project in news and sports, both of which he enjoys much? Will it be digital? Would it concern something around politics and social issues, also close to his heart? Or will it be all of these? And will some of the people at Star who are very close to him move on or move with him. And what happens in organisations like IBF etc where he has been championing the cause of broadcast sector?


As they say, only time will tell.


What we do know there’ll be another rise for the Indian M&E’s favourite son. The stars have been shining for him thus far, and it will interesting to see what he does next. As also what happens at Disney and Star India.


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