Vijay and Anand Sankeshwar take out an expensive but unappealing personal advertisement

Story: Vijay Sankeshwar, son of a Gadag-based small-time publisher, has bigger ambitions beyond running the business with a second-hand Victoria 800 semi-automatic printer. Venturing into another business without the capital to do so is easier said than done. But it persists and goes from having a single truck to a fleet of thousands in a few decades, a journey full of obstacles.

Opinion: In Karnataka, VRL is a household name; Not everyone knows founder Vijay Sankeshwar, but the logistics and transportation group, one of the largest privately owned companies in the country, is quite well known. While transport is Sankeshwar’s mainstay, he has also ventured into media publishing, launching two newspapers in succession: first the Kannada Vijaya Karnataka newspaper and then the English language Vijay Times.

Two decades ago, I started my career as a journalist at the Chamarajpet bureau of Vijay Times, which really helped shape me as a professional. More than half of the editorial staff were drawn from the Indian Express, and the rest were newbies like me. Learning, of course, came from senior team editors such as resident editor and popular sports writer Suresh Menon, associate editor and sports writer Vedam Jaishankar, among many others. Sankeshwar’s role was to run his media empire with an iron fist and suppress any voice of dissent. First, he installed CCTV cameras in various corners of the newsroom, which allegedly also captured audio. The resident editor had to control the feed, and he soon packed his bag, along with other senior staff. (I was too young to know if there was another reason, but this was what was discussed in the office) Those who did not leave, but were not satisfied with the cameras, received letters of transfer to Gulbarga and other parts of the state. . Those who remained were then under the direction of a former VRL engineer as executive editor. But that wasn’t the worst of it all. It happened when Sankeshwar quit the BJP and started his own party – the Kannada Nadu Party, which was based out of the Chamarajp media office. Imagine a newsroom that was overwhelmed by the coming and going of party workers and all the ensuing commotion. It was like a fish market whenever the party leader was in town. I left Vijay Times after about a year and a half, and soon after, Sankeshwar sold all his media businesses to the Times Group, which apparently was also his place of employment for over a decade.

Still from 'Vijayanand'

Still from ‘Vijayanand’

Naturally, when a biopic on Sankeshwar was announced, it piqued my interest. Personal experiences aside, there were plenty of rumors heard about his cutthroat measures in handling the transport business, which was more or less the modus operandi with the media as well. But then, the biopic was being produced by Sankeshwar – Vijay and his son Anand – so any hope of an objective look at his journey was thrown out the window then and there. The first impression I had when hearing the team behind the film speak was whether it was the director Rishika Sharma, who wrote the film, or the lead actor Nihal Rajput, or after watching the film’s trailer, one was to praise it. legend’. Building an empire on the scale of VRL Ltd is no mean feat, but getting people to believe that it is built on a foundation of honest measures is a stretch.

That, however, is not Vijayanand’s only problem. It’s a very spare attempt at storytelling, with random, disjointed pieces stitched together. Maybe just focusing on his transportation business and adding more details would have been better than the hots-potch we have now. As it stands, Vijayanand is a big platform for Rishika’s Nihal. Vijay as Sankeshwar obviously gets most of the screen time. On paper, the film’s cast is incredibly impressive, from Anant Nag to V Ravichandran, Prakash Belawadi, Shine Shetty, Bharath Bopanna, Siri Prahlad, Vinaya Prasad, Archana Kottige, among others. Most, however, don’t get more than 2-3 scenes. Heck, Ravichandran didn’t even get a second costume.

Nihal Vijay as Sankeshwar in the biopic of the transport and media baron

Nihal Vijay as Sankeshwar in the biopic of the transport and media baron

Vijayanand, according to the team, is a story meant to inspire, but that is the tone the film lacks. Take, for example, Vijay Sankeshwar who suffered from debilitating spondylitis and told his then-teenage son Anand that it was now up to the little boy to steer the company from debt to profit, only to shrink years later. an elderly man in better physical health and who revived the business, without explanation for the latter.

For a film that wanted to be true and only true, one can’t help but wonder why TOI’s ownership of Vijaya Karnataka and Vijay Times was not discussed better. TOI, referred to here as News of India, was threatened by the growth of Sankeshwar’s publications, so an offer was made and he took it. But why? It’s been 15-16 years since this development, but there is still no satisfactory answer and nothing but silence from former editorial colleagues about Sankeshwar’s huge losses to the English daily (to the tune of a crore per month).

Nihal and Anant Nag in a still from the movie

Nihal and Anant Nag in a still from the movie

Verdict: Vijayanand Sankeshwar is a feel good family film. Whether or not audiences buy the man’s positive spin is another matter, but will anyone feel inspired by this film? Very unlikely. VRL Film Production has spent a lot of money on the film’s promotions: the team traveled all over the country on private flights, buying prime time news slots and even getting twitter emojis for the film and the lead star. This will not be a good investment.

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