Gopichand Hinduja credits Hindi cinema for teaching him Persian – Economic Times


Billionaire Gopichand Hinduja on learning Persian from — wait for it — Hindi movies.


When a young Gopichand Hinduja was posted in Iran and had to learn Persian, he turned to Hindi cinema — every pre-Google Indian’s friend, philosopher and Lonely Planet.

“I’d take a random movie title, say ‘Sangam’, and then learn how to register that in Persian,” the 79-year-old billionaire said at a conclave in New Delhi recently. “In those days there was no English there. Nobody spoke Hindi. I knew that until I didn’t understand Persian I wouldn’t be able to do anything. Gradually, I picked it up. Now, not only can I speak, read and write Persian, but [with] many languages, I can manage quite sufficiently to be able to do my business.”

The Hindujas, worth about $50 billion, have a special connect with Iran. Parmanand Hinduja, the father of Gopichand Hinduja, expanded his business to Iran in the early 20th century. Sadly, for Gopichand, when he was looking forward to college life in India, his father packed him off to Iran.

Sangam
Poster of the film ‘Sangam’.

“I was going mad [about having to forgo his wonder years]. I wanted to enjoy my college life,” Hinduja said.

What he now wants to enjoy is work. Even if he is in France, where the croissants are fluffy.

“If I’m in France, people want to have fun. But I have meetings and work from 7 in the morning to 11 pm,” Hinduja said. “I believe we have to keep doing our karma. My family often tells me I’m at the right age to retire. But I never understood what retirement is. Even if I go for a holiday, I take my secretaries and staff with me.”

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The London-based Hinduja said he and his brothers (Srichand, Prakash and Ashok) often take key business decisions on the spot. And that is what led to their entry in the cybersecurity business.

“Two years ago, I was in St James Park one morning,” he said. “An American person was walking with me and he said, ‘Mr Hinduja, why don’t you get into cyber security?’. We don’t have any investment committees. We brothers take decisions on the spot. When I visited Silicon Valley I found him [the American, presumably] spending big money to develop this solution. So, I told him, ‘I will buy 51 per cent with one condition. I will take it home to develop’. And I was able to develop it at one-fifth of the cost and in six months instead of two years. Today, we are the only ones with this technology. It is used in hospitals, smartphones… If you don’t want your wife to find your girlfriend’s number, it will be well protected.”

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