By Monisha G Kumar Last Updated:
Counted as one of the most influential businessmen, Subrata Roy is a name which doesn’t need any introduction. From a meagre deposit to Rs. 1,50,000 crore assets, this business tycoon is a self-made man. From selling snacks on his Lambretta scooter to building an empire from scratch is more than a nostalgic journey for him. Also known by the name of ‘Sahara Shree’, Subrata Roy’s conglomerate has 4,799 establishments across the world. Everyone is aware of Subrata Roy’s controversial business life, but very few are aware that apart from a businessman, he is a doting husband.
Subrata Roy was born on June 10, 1948, to Chhavi and Sudhir Chandra Roy in Araria, Bihar. After shifting to Gorakhpur, Roy had lived with his parents and siblings in a rented house in Turkmanpur area. He did his schooling from Holy Child and had done a diploma in Mechanical engineering from the Government Technical Institute, Gorakhpur. Being the eldest son, he was forced to start working after his father’s death. Subrata had tried his luck at making salted snacks, which he used to sell on his Lambretta scooter under the name of ‘Jaya Products’. In 1978, he had laid the foundation of Sahara with a small office in Gorakhpur. And with years of hard work, his humble beginning was turned into the world’s largest business under the name of Sahara India Pariwar.
Behind every successful man, there is a woman and in Subrata Roy’s case, it is his wife, Swapna Roy. Subrata was an average student and had fallen in love with the university topper, whom he had met through a common friend in Kolkata. For Subrata, it was love at first sight, who was besotted with Swapna’s grace and beauty. After falling head-over-heels in love with her, Subrata had confessed his feelings to Swapna. She had immediately responded and the two had started dating.
In Simi Garewal’s chat show, Rendezvous With Simi Garewal, Swapna had said that Subrata was charming and romantic and she couldn’t help but fall in love with him. The two were staying in different cities and would only meet once or twice in a year but Subrata used to write long romantic letters for Swapna.
After a courtship of seven years, the duo had gotten married. At the time of their wedding, Subrata was struggling to establish his business and it was his wife, Swapna Roy, who had stood like a pillar of strength for him. She had even helped him to polish his English and Subrata had himself accepted it in a media interaction. Subrata is a doting husband, who has always praised his wife’s efforts in building his career.
During the initial phase of his career when he was struggling to establish his business, the business tycoon, Subrata Roy had to mortgage his wife, Swapna’s jewellery. He had admitted the same on Simi Garewal’s chat show, Rendezvous With Simi Garewal. Talking about the same, he had revealed that he could never forget that he had to mortgage his wife’s jewellery to build his business. He had also stated that since then, out of repentance, he would gift her gold jewellery on every birthday.
In 2013, Subrata Roy had received an honorary doctorate in business and leadership from the University of East London. He had also received the Business Icon of the year award at Powerbrand Hall of Fame Awards in London in 2011. Apart from this, he was awarded Best Industrialist Award in 2002, Vishisht Rashtriya Udaan Samman in 2010, Baba-E-Rozgar Award in 1992 and many more. Roy had been featured regularly in India Today’s list of 50 Most Powerful People of India, since 2003. In 2004, his company, Sahara India was termed as the second largest employer in India by Time magazine.
Apart from his global achievements, Subrata is also known for his humanitarian works. In 2013, Sahara had played a major role in the relief efforts in flood-hit Uttarakhand. One lakh bottles of drinking water, packaged juices, food packets and other necessary items were provided by them. Apart from this, their contribution in the Kargil War was also appreciated by the then Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Sahara group had provided financial support to 127 families of the martyrs.
Subrata Roy and Swapna Roy are blessed with two sons, Sushanto Roy and Seemanto Roy. In 2004, Subrata had hit the headlines for throwing one of the most expensive weddings of his sons. Both his sons, Seemanto and Sushanto had gotten married on the same day in the Sahara Auditorium, Lucknow. The Sahara chief, Subrata Roy had spent a whopping Rs. 552 crores for the wedding. The entire venue was decked up like a royal bride and lit up with traditional torch lights, hundreds of lamps and prism glasses.
The who’s who of the political, glamour and business world had graced the occasion. Celebrities such as Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Anil Ambani, and Mulayam Singh Yadav were present to welcome the wedding guests. The menu had spanned across 110 dishes, from across the globe, designed for every kind of palate. The wedding outfits were designed by Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Rohit Bal. There were dance performances by Shiamak Davar’s troupe as well as Indian songs were played by the British Symphony Orchestra.
Apart from this, on the auspicious occasion of the wedding, Subrata Roy had gotten 101 underprivileged girls married. Along with this, food was distributed to close to about one and a half lakh beggars.
Subrata Roy’s humbleness was the reason behind the business empire he had raised. A romantic husband and a doting father. Roy, who even after achieving great heights had always stayed grounded and an example of the same is his Lambretta scooter that stands enclosed in a cubicle in Lucknow’s Sahara Shaher. It is kept as a remembrance on how it all started over decades ago when he was a nobody.