During my day of rice exports, I had bought a 753-acre piece of land in an auction forRs.2.7 million. It was cheap because it was in a no-development zone. Five years later, as I got some foreign exposure, I thought of building an amusement park there. It was a concept that was unheard of in India back then, and the local authorities were suspicious of the project. I charted out a plan to pitch the project as a children’s park as that year the government was planning a grand centenary celebration for Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. My proposal reached the cabinet committee. Rajiv Gandhi was the chairman and the project was approved. But his relationship with chief minister of Maharashtra, Sharad Pawar was rocky, which meant I had to jump through several hoops before the park was ready. It was inaugurated by Pawar but everything from electricity connections to bus connectivity and entertainment taxes made it a difficult business proposition despite a great response to the park. That’s when I thought there had to be a better way to entertain people right where they were…
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