Revisiting the courageous Pinki Virani’s ‘I Believe’
A CLOSE KNIT FAMILY
Though the four Hinduja brothers – Srichand, Gopichand, Prakash and Ashok – are based in different parts of the world, the whole family is known to be exceptionally close knit. Harsha laughs, “You have that movie ‘My Big Fat Indian Wedding’ where every family member is into the others’ lives...We are just like that. We enjoy each other’s company and regularly meet and go on holidays together. During Diwali, we have a big party at our London home, and that’s the time the whole family gets together. In November, we all travel to Hrishikesh and in December, we all collect here in Mumbai.”
Their Diwali parties in London are the talk of the international party circuit, and they have hosted the Blairs, Parliamentarians and the British royalty. Is the party scene in their Mumbai home similarly hectic? She tells me, “One can make it hectic if one wants to. I am not a prisoner of any format. The Hindujas are a global family. We do not throw very many parties, as perceived, but when we do, we do it with our heart and soul because we genuinely value the occasion, our guests and associates. For us, AtithiDevo Bhava is the credo. We do socialize a lot, host parties and go for parties all the time, so it’s a balance.”
INVOLVEMENT IN THE HINDUJA GROUP
Harsha is on the board of directors of some of the companies of the illustrious Hinduja Group with a net worth of over $15 billion. But her involvement is mainly in the philanthropic arm, such as their integrated rural development project at Jawahar district in Maharshtra. What’s more, she oversees the exhibition of the fascinating ‘Hinduja Antiquity Foundation’, which possesses a priceless collection of 34,000 coins, some dating back to 600 BC. “The coin collection was bequeathed to us by a British soldier. It has coins which are so rare that no other country or museum has them.” Every year, under her supervision, the Foundation exhibits these precious coins at the World Trade Center. “That is another story in itself,” she tells me.
As a mother of three successful children - Ambika, Satya and Shom - Harsha is proud that they have carved a niche for themselves beyond the family name. Ambika began her career with producing Bollywood hits like ‘Being Cyrus’ and ‘Teen Patti’, and is now a renowned interior decorator with projects in Mumbai, Delhi and Dubai. Harsha reveals,
“You have that movie ‘My Big Fat Indian Wedding’ where every family member is into the others’ lives... We are just like that and enjoy each other’s company.”
“Right from childhood, Ambika has been very unique, a little hatke and a very individualistic personality. She is blessed with very refined aesthetics, which are very different from the mundane. She is now a professional of her own standing. ”
As for her younger daughter Satya, the mother divulges she had a large role to play in her career. “My younger daughter Satya has studied Background Score Engineering at Berkeley College of Music at Boston. The concept of ‘studying music’ doesn’t come very easily to most business families . But much to the disagreement of the elders in the family, I supported her a lot and even helped her send out her auditions. She was selected immediately. Her creations of sounds are just amazing! She’s very savvy with all the technological and computer based things.”
After working with music directors Salim-Suleiman for six years, Satya has today established her own research foundation called the ‘Alchemic Sonic Environment’, which is path-breaking in the field of the therapeutic effects of meditative sounds. Harsha elaborates, “Satya is deeply researching the therapeutic aspects of sound and frequencies, which parallel meditative yogic practices and current neuroscientific research. She constantly shuttles between Mumbai and New York for her research work.”
I prod her to tell me about her son Shom, the youngest, and who has been least exposed to the media so far. “He’s very cute,” smiles the doting mom. “And is also very musically inclined. When the kids were growing up, I made it a rule for them to learn one musical instrument and Shom chose the tabla, and switched over to drums. So when he turned eight, I got him an entire drum set and he was on cloud 9 or 999!” she laughs. Shom today has joined the family business and is making forays in the arena of green energy in India.
“I believe children are like flowers who need to bloom in their own way. We can only create the right conditions for them,” she muses. “Our children make us proud.”
TRAVEL TIME AND MY LIFE! In the course of the interview, several people came up to her to greet her and she greeted each one graciously. Interspersed between our conversation, she says, “Music, nature, plants are all stepping stones to divinity, to the God Head, to your own introspection. They help you create new vistas, new channels and bring out your own best. With them you remain childlike. I tell my music sir, ‘Aajjanekizidmat karo’ and he replies with, ‘Aajjana hipadega’ in the same tune. It’s all very ecstatic. I still enjoy running into the garden and inhaling the fragrance of mud. Sometimes I feel I’m so old, but still I enjoy all this. But this is what keeps me alive!”
And on that positive note, I bid farewell to this wonderful spirit, feeling enriched and elated.
“Children are like flowers who need to bloom in their own way. We can only create the right conditions.”
The four Hinduja brothers; Harsha with husband Ashok Hinduja
Top to bottom: Ambika with her husband Raman Macker; Satya Hinduja; Varsha with her husband and son Shom