Secret Diary of an Entrepreneur / CEO-2018

“In life, you cannot time your success or your failure”

Secret Diary of Ronnie Screwvala — Part 1

Published 3 years ago on Nov 03, 2018 11 minutes Read
Soumik Kar

Coming from a lower middle-class background just roots you in a very different way. It gave me a textured outlook on people across social classes. My early memories go back to our home at Grant Road. It was in a nearly century-old five-storey building, Arsiwala, which then housed a lovely biryani restaurant, Café 787. Ours was a four-bedroom apartment. A common passage led to four different rooms, unlike a 4BHK you would find today.

My conversation with parents, grandparents and aunts, outside of cultural values, was on creative pursuits and art because my aunts and my mum used to play the piano. They used to give tuitions, luckily, to some very pretty girls in the neighbourhood! So most of my initial dates was with their students! Those days were fun. There was an uninhibited approach to life. In retrospect, I believe, music had subtly influenced my creativity.

My first tryst with entrepreneurship was as a 13-year-old, selling tickets for movie premieres, the most ingenious way! Our home had a huge verandah that overlooked a well-known movie theatre, Novelty Cinema. Every third or fourth week, whenever a new Hindi film would be released, there used to be a huge crowd waiting to a catch a glimpse of the stars who would come to attend the premiere. Literally thousands would line up on the roads leading to the cinema house, right from the railway station. People would be climbing over the walls.

Initially, my friends would come to the verandah. Soon, strangers began knocking at the door, requesting access to the ‘gallery’. I would strike a bargain with them and sell ‘tickets’ for Rs.10. The premieres were late-evening affairs and everyone at my household would be fast asleep by then so my family was okay with it. Anyway the verandah was kind of secluded, located away from the living rooms. In fact, I was tempted to offer snacks, but my grandparents frowned upon the idea. But my nascent ‘business’ took off well. Though I could have only 10-15 people over, it still was huge pocket money. 10 tickets for 10 bucks meant I had Rs.100 to splurge on a date. It gave me such an empowering


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