I love to read about successfull buzness tycoons, their family story and their history – this one was realy impressive!
M realy impressed with Birla group and its history since long – recently found this articles on Yash Birla and his wife, so thought to note down !
He is better known for his clinging, transparent T-shirts.
She for her bottle-blonde hair.
He bears a family name that is an Indian synonym for rich.
She hails from a middle-class family.
He is a conservative Marwari.
She is a tolerant Maharashtrian.
He persuaded her to turn vegetarian.
She taught him to be non-judgemental.
Page-Three fixtures and style icons for society glossies, their own favourite spot is Rishikesh, up in the mountains. Both are petite, picture-perfect and unpretentious. With an identical taste in two kinds of music – bhajans and trance. Interestingly, each of them uses the possessive pronoun ‘my’ when talking about their children. As a couple, he leads and she anchors. And both are discomfited by the sudden attention that the recent ‘battle of the wills’ has thrust upon them. Manjula Sen keeps an appointment with Avanti and Yash Birla, at the plush Birla House in Mumbai.
I used to find him very uptight. I’d laugh at him in the beginning. He was quick to lecture people on non-vegetarianism, drinking and smoking. Later, I started respecting him for his views.
Yashovardhan Birla’s life could provide the plot for a dramatic movie. Born into a famous business clan, he is an introverted child who at 12 would rather read about the afterlife than Hardy Boys. He grows up in the sprawling Birla House, where Mahatma Gandhi stayed, Vallabhai Patel died and leaders of the Freedom Movement strategised. He adores older sister, Sujata. Their parents are loving, sociable and collectors of art. After-school hours are spent at father Ashok’s office, learning accounts and ledgers. In college, he falls in love with a pretty middle-class girl, informs his parents and is packed off to America to study, cool down and gain some international exposure. A year later, he wakes up to the news of the death of his parents and sister in a plane crash in Bangalore. At 23, he finds himself at the helm of his father’s many companies. A worried aunt, concerned for his emotional well-being, visits his sweetheart’s parents and Yash Birla and Avanti Natu ar e married a year later. After two sons, when a daughter is born, Yash Birla finally finds peace.
I enjoy a traditional relationship. I am basically quite a romantic person. I like my wife to be there, at all times, when I am at home.
The above outline however is ambiguous to the characters that people the story. The past and future are so strongly woven to the present that the denouement remains unscripted. To the visitor at Birla House, there are evident imprints of the old-style Marwari household and extended family.
The couple, both in their mid-thirties, first met when she was 16. Avanti attended Jai Hind College, in Mumbai and Yash was in neighbouring Sydenham. They soon found themselves in a tight-knit group of friends, from various backgrounds. “Yash never made us feel he was different,” recalls Avanti. His simplicity appealed to her. “We were not very alike when we were young but I think opposites attract. I just appreciated her values. I never liked anybody from a very affluent background or society girls. She was not any of that. And that is what attracted me. She was also very pretty (laughs), all my friends used to fancy her.”
Avanti remembers the difficult early years of their marriage. “Yash could not come to terms with what he had lost. I wanted to blank that whole period out. He was a child. I was immature. I did not know how to handle him or the situation. But our whole college group took over and circled him.”
“This is a very tight-knit family, though the businesses are separate,” adds Avanti. “Take all the negative press recently. They hate all that because they have never really exposed themselves to the public before. All the older lot, actually, they are great – that mould will never be made again. They accepted me with so much love that the only way to repay them is by keeping in touch.” Yash reflects on that period and muses, “I don’t think time is a healer. The only difference after 15 years is that the intensity has turned from sorrow to serenity. But, at that time, I went into a depression and did not even realise it.”
One of the best things they could have done to ease Yash’s pain, says Avanti, was to start a family straightaway. It sidetracked his grief. Nirvaan was born in 1991 and Vedantvardhan in 1994. It was only when Shloka was born, four and a half years ago, that the emptiness was finally filled.
Yash reflects that although his sons might feel that he is a little partial towards their sister, he loves his children equally. “It’s just that I missed having a female blood relation in my life. I was desperate for a daughter. I prayed, fasted and visited holy places. Finally, when she was born, I felt fulfilled. Now, I don’t have many desires.”