Rise And The Fall
He was once the King of Good Times - known for his opulent lifestyle, calendar shoots with bikini-clad models, high stakes in an IPL team and an airline that was the last word in luxury. But the global downturn in aviation and the rising fuel prices worsened Kingfisher's financial ill health. The several thousands of crores loaned to it by a consortium of banks proved insufficient to arrest the slide in its fortunes.
By early 2013, the high-flying airline shut shop and closed the doors on disgruntled employees and investors - none of which, though, made any dent in Mr Mallya's own lifestyle as he had pilfered cash from the company and stashed it abroad. Facing charges of money laundering, misappropriation and being a wilful defaulter, Mr Mallya left the country in 2016 for his country estate near London.
Mr Mallya is currently in the UK, fighting the battle of his life. There's an extradition demand from India, which has put the might of the State against the industrialist. India's Supreme Court is overseeing the move to get him to pay back Rs 9,000 crore in bad debts after the grounding of Kingfisher Airlines. It is hardly surprising that Mr Mallya's business em- pire is in shambles. Even a few years ago, he was the second-largest liquor distributor in the world. Now, at 60, Mr Mallya only has United Breweries - through which he operates the Kingfisher beer empire - to count on. But he remains cocky. "Surrender of passport, arrest, bail, all part of normal extradition proceedings," he tweeted. He is unrepentant.
The drama behind the meteoric rise and fall of Mr Mallya is well put together in this snappy book by business journalist Kingshuk Nag. It helps that Mr Nag had reported some of these stories, particularly in the 1980s and 1990s. Those were heady days for Indian business journalism, where takeovers required deft handling of a business-unfriendly environment. The book also competently captures the end game at Kingfisher Airlines and explores just why the BJP government is so keen to make an example of Mr Mallya. This book is the story of how the king lost his cheer and high spirits, to be remembered for one of the biggest corporate collapses of our time.