"I dream of a wooden cottage on a hill" :Ajay Gupta


His life has come full circle. He started his career with his family business of film distribution, left it to try his hand at various other trades right from garments to even handling shipments to production. But he is back at it again, this time with Indonesian entertainment baron Raam Punjabi's company PT Parkit Films' Indian distribution arm, Multivision Multimedia India. Just a couple of years ago, he was spearheading Indian media czar Subhash Chandra's forays into the cinema business.

With reason. Gupta believes in giving it all that he has got. He narrates an incident when he was in the shipment business when he chose to stay in the factory till 2 am just because he felt maybe his mere presence would help others work faster and prevent casualness from creeping in.

However, it's a tad difficult to believe that a man who looks all of 40 has a daughter who will turn 24 in October!

A Delhiite by birth he came to Mumbai in 1998 and joined a production house. This was followed by the Essel Group's E-City, where he spread the mutliplex chain in four cities across India before helping Punjabi set up his Indian arm.

We get him to talk about his journey so far, and get to know a lot many hidden secrets about him.

Sporty to the core in school and college?

As long as one is in school or college everything is great but once you are out, the strive begins. I used to be very active in sports. I've played hockey at the national level and table tennis at the state level. Later my passion for sports led me to play games like golf and pool. But now who has the time for all that? It's very rare that I play a frame of pool when I'm out on a trip with friends.

What's cooking today???

I won't call myself a foodie but yes, I do like eating and make it a point to try out different cuisine whenever I am out. I love the exquisite food in Bukhara and the barbecued dishes in Delhi and that's something you can't get anywhere. Very recently, I tried pizzas in La Pizza at the Cannes film festival. They were baked on earthen ovens and had a totally different taste just like the roties made on earthen stoves in villages. Also there is an Algerian restaurant where they serve you starters like kababs and a wholesome full course. I am extremely fond of Chinese cuisine and therefore land up normally at Mainland China, the Chinese restaurant in the Mumbai suburbs.

Normally, I prefer having anything vegetarian. I even like having continental dishes and as a matter of fact I even love cooking, but then everything has to be done by me. On Sundays the lunch menu is fixed comprising Curry chawal (Punjabi Curry).

No Yoga-shoga for me

I try to be regular with my gym routine or go for a walk at times. I wake up at 7.30 am and my day winds up at around 8 pm. I've also tried, what you call, the new life or the alternate healing - Art of Living and Reiki. I don't really believe in Yoga as such. I agree everything has a benefit but it's not often possible to practice everything because it all depends on your conviction.

I don't believe in giving prasad or donations...

I believe there is someone up there who has control over all of us. I am religious but I don't believe in rituals as such. I believe in a private conversation with God even if it's for 10 minutes a day. On Sundays the first three hours are totally devoted to God. I don't believe in giving prasad and donations; instead I would go and help some NGO like CRY or something else on those lines. And I believe that God is with me all the time... I don't search for him. I am not an extreme person, so when one is walking on a moderate line it is very easy to choose which way to go. Therefore I haven't felt his absence till date.

Books lag behind, TV reigns supreme

Very frankly, with the advent of so many channels, the reading habit has taken a back seat. In the past three years I have started reading many books but haven't managed to finish even one. By the time you get back home, seeing something visually is more appealing than a fat book of 400 pages. I read fiction and religious books at times. I usually like reading those books that do not require long attention spans. There are certain stories, which are just 40 pages long but have a great moral. As far as religious books are concerned, I would say, I don't really read mythological books but mostly books on their analysis is what I prefer.

Historical destinations beckon

Though traveling happens quite often but holidays are a far fetched dream now. There are a lot many places left to be visited. My wife is very interested in history so I want to take her to her dream destinations like Egypt, Greece, Cambodia and places, which offer historical background. Apart from that there are so many places in India too where you get a variety of things. Our dream destination in the monsoons used to be this place called Chail, which is 45 kilometers from Shimla. There is a Chail Palace that used to be the summer palace of the Maharaja of Patiala and has now been converted into a hotel. It has four - five cottages and the whole place had hardly 25 shops, a bus stop and a post office. We used to plan a week long trip so that we could utilise the fire place in the evenings and enjoy the cold breeze.

I believe?

Since adulthood I've believed in just one thing - whatever you do, every single thing comes back to you in this one life only.

Ghulam Ali fan

I love listening to yesteryears' music. I have my own collection of Boney M and the likes. I don't mind listening to Indian classical, instrumental and other music of the same era. There was a time when I was hooked on to Ghulam Ali.

As far as movies are concerned I would say, every genre has its own charm. Mackenna's Gold is one such movie. It was made so differently that even today it is fresh in my mind. If I am switching channels in the night and happen to see Sholay, I till date stop and watch it. Lord of The Rings and My Fair Lady are some of my favorites.

A nose only for Davidoff Cool Water

Shopping has become so very easy now with the advent of malls. My personal favourite is InOrbit. A lot of mix and match brands do for me. In perfumes, I prefer only Davidoff Cool Water. I am not very particular about the brand of clothes I wear as long as they are comfortable. As I have been associated with the fashion garment industry, I go in for the cut and fit and not much for the brand.

My priorities have changed

In the last three years, there has been a total shift in my lifestyle. Earlier I was a party animal and had less time for my family but now it has become vice versa. It was more of a conscious choice because with time priorities change and so did mine. Since my profession demands it, I try to catch up more on films now and films have always interested me. Moreover it also becomes a family outing when we go for movies, film festivals and screenings together.

Beautiful Dreams

Ten years from now I wish to be in the Bahamas, holidaying (chuckles). Actually a lot depends on my luck and circumstances. But I do want to own a wooden cottage on a hill where I can hear the sound of running water.

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