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I would like to be known for my businesses rather than my wealth: Yohan Poonawalla

Yohan Poonawalla

Yohan Poonawalla, the scion of billionaire Poonawalla family of Pune, is known for his passion for vintage cars and horses. Not many know that there’s a sincere family man and a perseverant businessman behind the facade of a rich and famous Yohan Poonawalla. In an exclusive chat with Nation Next, Yohan Poonawalla speaks about his business philosophy, family values and trials and tribulations of being rich and famous. Here’s all that you always wanted to know about him…

How would you describe being Yohan Poonawalla?

First off, I’m a family man. I’m proud to say that though I had a platform of family business, I have not only sustained the same but have grown it too. While doing so, I learned that ethics in business are a must and there’s no substitute for hard work. Rest, I leave for the others to decide. Let them reflect on the other personality traits of mine and conclude.

A common man is driven by the idea of acquiring wealth. What drives a rich man like you? 

Like I said, I’ve been lucky to be born in a family like this! To grow and sustain the wealth is important but how to grow and sustain the wealth is more important. To be known as a respected businessman is more important than just amassing wealth. To me, the perceptions do matter.

What would you say to a young Indian who idealises a wealthy you and wishes to acquire as much as you possess

I would say, there’s no shortcut to making money. You’ve to work hard, be dedicated, set your goals, do it ethically; and even if you don’t succeed, don’t do it the wrong way. My success mantra is getting into the nitty-gritty of everything, right down to the smallest details. I would suggest youngsters: If you do something, do it the right way or don’t do it! Even if its organising a party, or building a house, or putting up a factory – whatever you do, it should be perfect. Sometimes it may take a lot of time in doing things right but I like to do it that way only!

Among people at large, you are known more for your wealth than your businesses. How does it feel?

That’s why I asked you what the interview was about beforehand because nowadays, I tend not to give interviews just on my cars, horses etc. I have a passion for cars and horses but I would like to be known more for my businesses, rather than my wealth. In fact, beyond being a passion, stud farms is a serious business for us.

Is it the perfect marriage of passion and business that makes The Poonawalla Stud Farms the leading in the country in producing classic horses  

I won’t start a new business based on my passion, but for long while we’ve been passionate about horses, it’s always been a business too. We also love our other businesses but I guess we love the horses a bit more. It’s such a regal animal! My grandfather late Soli A. Poonawalla started the stud farms in 1946; since then the passion and the business of horses run in the family. In fact, the stud farms’ land is virtually in the heart of the city, and it doesn’t make commercial sense to run a stud farm there. We need to shift it out.

Please tell us about your other businesses.

Apart from running stud farms, in 1966, my dad and uncle (Dr Cyrus Poonawalla) started the pharmaceuticals company – Serum Institute of India Ltd. – which is now one of the biggest pharma manufacturers in the country. Then in 1987, two engineering companies were started (Intervalve Poonawalla Ltd.) and El-O-Matic (India) Pvt. Ltd. One with Dutch technology and the other one is a joint venture with a Fortune 100 American company called Emerson. I hands on run these two engineering companies, and my wife Michelle is now full time helping me in the same. I’m very proud that I’m the first one in the family to have diversified into other businesses than our traditional ones. I was the first to go into hospitality and commercial real estate investments in Pune and Mumbai – the two geographies that I know well. Our luxury spa ‘Grayshott’ in the UK is doing well. It’s a wonderful property in Surrey, which is just on the outskirts of London.

Between the engineering business and the stud farms, what would you like to develop more?

I would make the engineering business widespread since horses are doing well as a traditional business of ours.

Due to your wealth and lifestyle, the curiosities run amuck among people. How do you deal with them?

In a position like that of mine, one has to deal with people’s curiosities calmly and coolly.  One can’t be offended. I wonder just being business entities, if we have to face the inquisitiveness and the rumours of this magnitude, what celebs like actors and cricketers must be going through!They are vehemently followed by a huge fan base of theirs. But when you’re looked upon by people and you’re in the public eye constantly, you can’t help being asked peculiar questions by the media and people at large.

Do you think while the common man wants to be wealthy, he also wants the wealthy to be apologetic about their wealth?

It depends… There may be a lot of people who see it that way but you can’t generalise.

Vijay Mallya, a family friend of yours, is being criticised for his lifestyle after the debacle of Kingfisher…

My family and I know him for many years; he’s a horse lover too. He’s achieved a lot in life. I remember, he was only 28-year-old, when his father passed away and he took over. I recently heard someone talk on the television that he inherited the business and he has done nothing, but it’s not true. He has grown his businesses like anything. Unfortunately, as it happens in so many big businesses, things went wrong in his airline business. He is a fine person and he’s worked hard. His lavish and flamboyant life, which he’s being criticised for, is his lookout. What he needs to do is just pay off the employees soon. Maybe, things will settle down!

What is your routine like?

Normal work days, I go to office, come back, a bit of gym in the evenings and spend rest of the time with my children. I’m very particular about spending time with my kids as I feel it’s very important to be a part of their growing up days. After growing up, they would get busy in their own things. I don’t want to miss out on these days of theirs. I take them out on holidays because that’s the time I get to spend the whole day with them. Today being a Sunday, I’m taking them along to Aamby Valley City for some car event. Like myself, my son likes vintage cars too, which is very rare for someone his age. It’s in his blood.

Talking about cars, Puneites say it’s a treat to watch when you’re out driving your classic Mercedes, Bentley or vintage Rolls Royce. Out of your enviable collection of vintage and classic cars, which one is your dearest?

The vintage car – Rolls Royce Phantom 3 – is my favourite. It’s a 1937 model and has V12 engine (the only V12 engine they made in those days). The new Phantom is named and based on this car. Interestingly,   this car has a modified spit fire engine; it’s an aircraft engine. Rolls Royce, even today, makes aircraft engines. This car is very special to me! Of the classic ones, I prefer to drive the Lamborghini once in a while along with my son.

How and when did you realise you have a fascination for cars

Ever since I was a child. I grew up looking at the vintage cars, so at an age when young boys follow sports cars, I developed a passion for vintage cars. Now I enjoy my sports cars as well.

Would you like to reborn as yourself?

Yeah! I would like to reborn as myself, having the same wife and same children!

Have you ever thought if you weren’t a wealthy man, what would you struggle for, and what would drive you?

I would have definitely liked to be an achiever under any circumstances. I don’t know what would that be but I’m sure I would be constantly driven to achieve something in life. My family had got what it’s got but I still have always been striving to take it to the next level. I would like my son and daughter to make our businesses grow, but only if they’re interested. I’ll allow them to do whatever they like. I won’t ever stop them from chasing their dreams.

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Entertainment

To complete my film ‘Emergency’, I mortgaged every single thing I owned: Kangana Ranaut

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Elina Nayak | India

Kangana Ranaut

Kangana Ranaut finished the shoot of her much awaited film ‘Emergency’ recently. But finishing this film wasn’t an easy journey for the actress. She went through a lot of ups and downs while finishing this period drama where she plays former PM, Indira Gandhi.

Talking about all the difficulties she faced to complete the film, Kangana recently said, “Whatever task I take up, I make sure I finish it. But to finish the film, I had to mortgage all my properties, every single thing I owned as I am also banking the film as a producer. Moreover, mortgaging all my property to complete the film wasn’t a big deal. I am someone who makes all my big decisions within minutes. The main struggle was running to banks back-to-back while shooting the film. Somehow, it hampers your work big time.”

Kangana, who made her entry into Bollywood with ‘Gangster’ in 2006, also spoke about her initial days in Bollywood. “When I came to Mumbai, I had only ₹500. So, if I lose all my property after ‘Emergency’ release and I’m completely ruined, it won’t matter much. I am very confident and strong enough to stand up on my feet once again and bounce back. Such possessions hold no meaning for me to be frank,” said Kangana to the paparazzi during the ‘Emergency’ wrap-up party held recently.

Also read: Salim Khan was one of those few friends who encouraged me to become a screenwriter: Javed Akhtar

 

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Life & Style

With 7000 luxury cars, gold fitted private jets, Sultan of Brunei has everything money can buy

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Radhika Dhawad | Brunei
The Sultan of Brunei (Photo source: EPA)

With a personal wealth of £15 billion (approx rupees one lakh crore) Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah (76) has been the king for over 54 years now. Sultans huge fortune is said to increase by £80 (₹7000) per second from just oil assets that he possesses. The Sultan is the second wealthiest monarch in the world after the King of Thailand

 Flew his hairdresser via private jet for a £19,000 haircut!

Such has been the Sultans lifestyle that he once flew his barber in his private jet for a single haircut, which cost him a total of £19,000 (approx ₹16.5 lakh) Not just this but hes also known to have his polo shoes flown by his helicopter for a match.

Once court papers in 2012 revealed that he paid £1.26 million (approx. ₹10.92 crore) to his badminton coach, £1.25million (approx. ₹10 crore) for acupuncture, massage and spent £50,000 (approx. ₹ 43 lakh) on guards for his exotic birds.

The Sultan, who spends around £17million (approx. ₹147 crore) on just jewellery as presents for his family members, paid two of his housekeepers £7million (approx. ₹60 crore) each! Once, the Royal Family spent so much at London jewellers Asprey that, in 1995, he decided to buy the entire company at a cost of £320million (approx. ₹2700 crore)!

Sultan Hassanal Bolkia and second wife Queen Hajah Mariam sit on the throne during an investiture ceremony for the Sultan’s 50th birthday celebrations (Photo source: AFP)

Multiple marriages, divorces

In 1965, the Sultan married his cousin Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha, with whom he has six children, including Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee. 

The Sultan remarried, but Raja still remains his wife and the Queen Consort. He married Hajah Mariam in 1982 a year before first wife Queen Saleha gave birth to their sixth child. He met her while she was working as an airhostess on a national airline.

He divorced Hajah (who was the mother of four children) in 2003 and stripped her off her royal titles. He then married TV presenter Azrinaz Mazhar, with whom he had two children before they divorced in 2010.

Micheal Jackson performed for Sultan’s 6000 subjects on his birthday

Father of 12, Sultan celebrated the weddings of his five children for a week by spending millions on each wedding. When Sultans eldest son Crown Prince, married a teenager Sarah Salleh (17), she wore jewel-encrusted Christian Louboutin heels and pure gold anklet. His daughter, Princess Azemah, 38, married her first cousin in week-long wedding on January 25, 2023. 

For his oldest daughter’s wedding, Princess Rashidah, American singer Whitney Houston was flown in to sing at the reception and the Sultan paid her £5.5million (approx. ₹47 crore).

Sultans 50th birthday in 1996 was celebrated for over 15 days that cost him over £20 million (₹173 crore). The extravagant celebrations comprised a polo match, gala dinner for 3,000 at the opulent Palace where caviar from the endangered beluga was served.

Apart from this, the guests enjoyed free-flow of champagne. Not just this, the Sultan paid Micheal Jackson £14 million (approx ₹120 crore), for which the pop singer performed at three concerts – one for Sultans 6000 subjects and two for his private guests. The Sultan as a token presented every guest of his a solid gold medal!

Sultan’s Palace with 1788 rooms 

1788 rooms, 257 bathrooms, air-conditioned stable for ponies

The Sultan resides at the Instana Nurul Iman Palace, which is the largest Royal residence in the world. The residence that was built over two years costs over £1billion (approx. ₹8600 crore) that includes 1788 rooms and 257 bathrooms.

With a personal wealth of £15 billion, Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah has been king for over 50 years now. Check out his crazy lifestyle!
One of the five pools inside the Brunei Palace (Photo source: The Sun)

Inside Brunei Palace (Photo source: The Sun)

With gold and diamond all over, the residence has five huge swimming pools, a banquet hall that can accommodate over 5000 guests and a mosque with a capacity of 1500 people. Apart from all this, there’s also a fully air-conditioned stable for Sultans 200 polo ponies (small horses)!

Inside Sultan’s Palace

Most expensive private house in UK

The Sultan owns a lavish house in Londons most expensive area Regent Park, St Johns Lodge that consists of three linked properties. The same property in London was bought for £40million in 1994 (estimated to be worth £110 million [approx. ₹953 crore]) by making it the most expensive private house in the United Kingdom!

St John’s House in Regent’s Park is the most expensive private house in the UK (Photo source: Alamy)

Known for being generous in gifting huge properties to his family members, the Sultan also owns plush properties on the Gold Coast of Australia, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, to name a few.

The Sultan in 1997 gifted his playboy brother Prince Jefri a mansion worth £45 million (approx. ₹390 crore) in Las Vegas that has 92 rooms, 29 bedrooms, 42 bathrooms, a tennis court, three swimming pools and a huge garage that houses 11 cars.

 7000 cars worth £5billion

With almost 7000 cars, the Sultan possess the world’s largest car collection that include over 600 Rolls Royce, 500 Mercedes, 450 Ferraris, 380 Bentleys, over 100 Koenigsegg, 21 Lamborghinis, 11 Aston Martins, 179 Jaguars and 209 BMWs. His £5billion (approx ₹43000 crore) collection also includes a 24-carat gold-plated silver Spur Limo used for Royal weddings.

Sultan’s fleet of cars
With a personal wealth of £15 billion, Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah has been king for over 50 years now. Check out his crazy lifestyle!
The Prince with a custom-built six door Rolls in 1984 (Photo source: Rex Features)

The custom-built Rolls Royce is gold-plated and is used for Royal weddings (Photo source: Rex Features)


Sultan’s car


Private jets decorated in gold

Not just cars, the Sultan is the proud owner of the £233 million (approx. ₹2000 crore) customised Boeing 747, with a living room and bedroom decorated in gold and crystals and washbasins of solid gold.

Inside Sultan’s private jet

With a personal wealth of £15 billion, Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah has been king for over 50 years now. Check out his crazy lifestyle!
Inside Sultan’s private jet

Apart from this, he also owns a customised Airbus worth £75m (approx. ₹649 crore) and a Boeing 767 worth £136m (approx. ₹1200 crore).

Sultan’s private jet

(PS: The figures are an approximate value calculated as per the current market price, which have been sourced from The Sun)

Also read: Salim Khan was one of those few friends who encouraged me to become a screenwriter: Javed Akhtar

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Nagpur News

17-year-old girl gang-raped in car at Nagpur

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Radhika Dhawad | Nagpur

Nagpur Police arrested two men on Wednesday for allegedly gang-raping a 17-year-old girl in a car on Monday…

2 arrested after gang raping 17-yr-old in car | Nagpur

Representational Image

 
Nagpur Police arrested two men on Wednesday for allegedly gang-raping a 17-year-old girl in a car in Saoner (40 kms from Nagpur city) on Monday. The cops, initiated an extensive search immediately after receiving a complaint and arrested the two. 
 
The two accused convinced the teenage girl to travel with them in car by offering her to drop her at her destination. The survivor, who was clueless about the accused’s intentions, helped them by giving directions for the destination.
 
Cops said the two, however, took a detour on the way and took her to an isolated place, parked the car and allegedly gang-raped her. The duo has been booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, among other charges.

Also read: Nagpur: 3 men gang rape woman, stab her to death with axe, again rape her dead body

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