Back in 1999, my husband and I were just about a year old in Mumbai and house hunting in earnest. The first time we stepped into a Hiranandani sample flat, we thought it was beyond our budget. But we were drawn in by the quality of the house, and completely overlooked the distance from the nearest railway station. We bought our first house in the complex that had a blueprint to create an entire community complete with school, hospital, club house and so on. If Hiranandani were to recreate Powai in Thane, it would be wonderful, we thought. It did.
Indeed, the two Hiranandani brothers, Niranjan and Surendra, have created the unthinkable in the slum city of Mumbai, although that magic is taking time to play out in other cities. Since that first purchase, we have grown steadily from a 1 BHK to a 2, and then a 3 BHK. But every time the distance between home and work got to me and we considered moving closer to town, we would be drawn back. It is a sentiment that most residents of Hiranandani projects share. (Apparently, 55% of all the real estate company’s sales comes from existing residents who are upgrading from smaller to bigger homes.)
Something else stood out about the Hiranandani brothers even back in the 1990s: they were willing to make a 100% ‘white’ sale. Coming from Delhi, we had never heard of anything like that. And Hiranandani’s adherence to delivery timelines was unlike most real estate developers — all of which made the builder stand out as a professional company in a business notorious for cheating people.
My bias for Hiranandani aside, I have never been able to convince myself that real estate can be a clean business. That’s a notion Niranjan Hiranandani says he has battled ever since he set up the business. Interestingly, his company is now facing its share of legal woes. In its ongoing dispute with MMRDA, it claims that the company did not indulge in contract violations. The jury is still out on that. Meanwhile, deputy editor V Keshavdev delves into the challenges the Hiranandanis face in keeping their empire growing — both within and outside the family. You can see Row House to read more.
As for other stories, we have Café Coffee Day, which is gearing up for more competition. You can read Changing The Brew for that. Also read our interview with the guru of feel-good, Jack Canfield — "If successes were easy, everybody would be a millionaire".