GUWAHATI: Subrata Roy, the chief of Sahara Group, breathed his last at the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital & Medical Research Institute (KDAH) in Mumbai on Wednesday.
The 75-year-old industrialist died of a cardiorespiratory arrest, marking the end of a prolonged struggle with health complications.
Roy’s health had taken a downturn, leading to his admission to KDAH on November 12. He is survived by his wife Swapna Roy and sons, Sushanto Roy and Seemanto Roy.
A self-proclaimed “Chief Guardian” of Sahara India Pariwar, Roy was a figure known for his dynamic presence in the realms of business and finance, coupled with significant political connections.
His journey began humbly in 1978 with a meagre capital of Rs 2000, eventually culminating in the establishment of Sahara India – a conglomerate claiming a net worth of Rs 259,900 crore, with 9 crore investors and customers, 5,000 establishments, and an impressive land bank spanning 30,970 acres.
Roy’s ambitious forays into diverse sectors included ownership of an airline, a Formula One team, an IPL cricket team, and upscale hotels in London and New York.
Despite early successes, the business trajectory faced challenges, notably with the sale of his airline, Air Sahara, to Jet Airways, which later faced its own collapse.
In its heyday, Sahara’s media arm, Sahara One Media and Entertainment, boasted three Hindi-language channels – Filmy (a movie channel), Sahara One (a general entertainment channel), and Firangi (showcasing international programming dubbed into Hindi).
Sahara Movie Studios left an indelible mark in Bollywood by co-producing hits such as Sarkar, Wanted, and Page 3.
The conglomerate also maintained a thriving distribution business, Sahara One Motion Pictures, and owned newspapers and magazines in Urdu, Hindi, and English.
However, the empire faced setbacks.
In 2010, negotiations to acquire MGM fell through, and Sahara’s cricket franchise, Pune Warriors India, was terminated by the Indian cricket board in 2013 due to a disagreement over franchise fees.
The group, once a sponsor of India’s national cricket team, lost its rights to the Star India group in 2013.
Despite these challenges, Sahara continued its support in sports, currently backing the Awadhe Warriors team in the Indian Badminton League and the Uttar Pradesh Wizards in the Hockey India League.
Roy’s demise marks the end of an era for Sahara Group, and his legacy will be remembered for the highs and lows of a business empire that left an indelible mark on India’s corporate landscape.