Who doesn’t know the “Aap Ki Adalat Anchor?” There won’t be a single mother or father, living on the Indian soil, unaware of that spectacled man with a cunning smile. Rajat Sharma has become an integral part of every Indian’s life, thanks to his hit cult show: Aap Ki Adalat which airs on India’s most popular news channel – India TV, which again belongs to this wise man (Rajat Sharma is the Chairman & Editor-in-chief of India TV). But only a few know about him truly. Let’s dig in a little deeper.
Husband of the former TV actress Ritu Dhawan; Rajat Sharma is indeed that very special personality who is known to be even more famous than most of our country’s celebrities! What makes him so special or different from others?
The fact is: This guy is known to have very strong political relations which date back to about 30 – 40 years (minimum) with the current Prime Minister of India – Mr. Narendra Modi, BJP President Amit Shah, along with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. He also has quite a lot of close friends in the Congress Legion and his friend list also has some of Bollywood’s stars. His investor list is impressive as well; it includes some of India’s billionaires like Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani.
He is so influential and powerful that to celebrate the 21st anniversary of his hit show – Aap Ki Adalat that aired in December 2014, he brought together almost every powerful person in the country under one roof – from the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee to Bollywood stars which includes the three ruling Khans – Shah Rukh, Salman and Aamir, he had them all.
Such deep and mesmerizing is this guy’s approach that he played a significant role in India’s negotiation talks with Sri Lanka regarding the release of a jailed Indian fisherman. He held a talk with the then Sri Lankan President – Mahindra Rajapaksa, which persuaded him in all aspects and he called Modi to tell him that Colombo would be releasing the fisherman.
Rajat Sharma, as of today, is a more able and influential person than the ministers in the cabinet itself. It is his humble nature that keeps him grounded, and his persona is absolutely divine; the kind that could give any minister, a run for his money.
As long as Rajat can remember; he lived in a 10×10 apartment with seven brothers and a sister, father, and an ailing mother without the aid of electricity and water. His schooling was incorporated from a cheap municipality school, and he recalls instances of studying under the shade of a lamp-post of a nearby railway station at night.
No water at home meant bathing had to be scheduled at the communal bathing house, and the basic necessities of life were met by somehow. Inspite of all the sufferings, Rajat can still recall fond memories of his childhood; some that he cherishes and the others that made him what he is today.
He remembers one such incident; the most distinct one actually, which helped him shape his future. Remember back in the day, when television used to be a very rare thing; when there used to be a meager one television in the whole neighborhood and owning one was not everyone’s piece of cake; Rajat, like everybody else, used to visit the house that encased the now popular TV. But one stark day, he was denied entry, and he was in fumes but couldn’t do anything about it. So, when his father saw his child sad, he came up to him and told him something; something, that was to change everything. He said – “Do something in life that you appear on television and other people watch you.”
And the now 58-year-old has never looked back since.
Rajat began his much-anticipated journey after completing his masters in commerce. Just like every other normal human being; Rajat was blazing through the streets, looking for a summer job when he bumped into Janardan Thakur, who had just left Anandabazaar Patrika, Old Delhi. Thakur had his plans sorted and was thinking about starting a syndicated column but needed someone to help him out; and who better than our Rajat would have been able to help the poor guy out? Sharma was appointed a researcher on a stipend of INR 400 per month.
One fine day, he sought his boss’s (Janardan, of course!) permission, to use the research material for his own work; and what turned out to be a turning point in his life, he wrote his first story that was published by the Onlooker magazine and he received a whopping INR 300 for that single piece of story that he wrote!
Without further ado, Rajat left Thakur for better future prospects, and joined Onlooker magazine as a trainee reporter and within no time was he appointed their Chief-of-Bureau in the year 1984 and then Editor in 1985. After tasting success, he landed in the dream land –Mumbai. Looking at the tender age, and assuming him to be just any random kid; most people would shy Rajat way due to lack of experience. Biggies like Shobha De and Dom Moraes, who were regular columnists, back in the day were at first, negligent of him and his work. Why? Because they would simply shrug off the fact of a 28-year old kid becoming an editor!
After three long of years of sheer hard work and meticulous struggle, Rajat went on to work for the likes of Sunday Observer and then The Daily as their editor.
Devoting a massive decade of his life to this industry; Rajat faced a career defining moment in the year 1992. It was during some flight he was on, when he met Subhash Chandra, who had just started the entertainment channel ZEE TV and was looking for some crisp, new ideas for an interview show that had been doing the rounds in his mind. Rajat took the hammer with both his hands and struck the iron when it was red-hot! He intimated a general picture of “Aap Ki Adalat” to Subhash and grabbed his attention.
It was not until Subhash called Rajat up and asked him if he would like to host the show “Aap Ki Adalat” that Rajat could have even thought of conjuring something up, this big. It was the biggest surprise and shock in his life, but he unperturbedly accepted the offer. The show aired on March 13, 1992, and we all know how it fared.
Rajat was growing so much in stature that whatever he said was conceived as truth by the people. Such was his charm and presence that people couldn’t get his eyes off him. The show, even after 21 years in the running has seen its career graph reach new heights and break records like none other. Having interviewed more than 1000 people, which include almost every powerful man this nation has seen including the likes of the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Superstars like Shah Rukh Khan and innumerous other dignitaries from every industry that holds a potent hold in this proud nation. The show has, in fact, become the longest running show in the television history of India; all because of one man, who with his witty smile and harsh realistic questions has won the hearts of millions!
Three years after his cult show aired on television; in the year 1995, Rajat Sharma proudly introduced to the country, it’s very first and much required private television news bulletin – Independent News Service (INS) which was broadcasted across footprints of Asia, North Africa and Europe.
The show instantly became a symbol of freedom and unbiased news! INS received investments from Fuse+ Media – an entity of ComVentures, a venture capital firm based in Palo Alto, California, United States.
After running the show for about nine years,; Rajat decided to move forward and took the most important decision of his life that was to define him there on.
In the year 2004, with gratuitous support from his wife Ritu Dhawan, he launched the soon-to-become India’s biggest news channel – India TV! India TV was deemed to become a serious news channel wherein Tarun Tejpal would perform investigative reporting, Menaka Gandhi would be reporting animal welfare, and Madhu Kishwar was to work over women welfare. In a bid to establish itself as any other global news channel, it turned out to be contemptuous!
But, bringing about serious news into the happy lives of the citizens of this fruitful nation, turned out to be Rajat’s wildest nightmare!
For two very long initial years, India TV was bleeding large chunks of money and was slowly becoming cashless – totally! The state of affairs was such bad that Rajat was on the verge of, in fact, forced to sell his property to make some money just to pay the salaries of his employees.
In such a time of grief, Rajat was faced with the daunting task of choosing one of two options – accept the defeat and shut down India TV, or change the way things were being operated.
And everyone knows about the way he chose.
Without further ado, Rajat was back with a bang! He revitalized the program-mix and switched from serious to popular news; adding his three-hour-long live show to the channel in the year 2008.
The team had set its priorities in only one direction – Highest TRP material and India TV became hungry for popular content all the time. The channel began to rise inch by inch, and in about a year or so, became the No. 2 news channel across India.
Rajat, in the year 2009, decided to undo what was already done!
He changed the channel’s spotlight from rubbish like snakes and ghosts, to once again serious news! And, believe it or not, this time it worked wonders! The numbers itself state how India TV became the highest rated news channel amongst other fellow Hindi news channels.
Back in the day, when Rajat had launched India TV, everyone had assumed that he was making possibly the biggest mistake of his life; but little did anyone now that it would become the very thing that would define this great man! India TV went onto become India’s number 1 news channel in a diminutive span of just four years! And today, Rajat Sharma, along with India TV, has become the pioneer of Indian News!
As of today, India TV has come a long way from a ritzy studio in Noida’s Film City to a glamorous Broadcast Centre in Noida that covers an area of more than 128,000 square feet and is equipped with state-of-the-art digital connectivity.
With a solid staff that comprises of about 500 prolific members; India TV reaches out to an audience that account to more than 90 million C&S homes.
Since the success of India TV; its investor list has been filling in with the who’s-who of the Indian dignitaries including biggies like Shyam Equities (Owned by a subsidiary of Tally Solutions), Aditya Corpex Private Ltd (owned by Gautam Adani of Adani Group), HFCL, and many more.
Rajat Sharma has since been awarded a host of prestigious awards that include:
- The prestigious Padma Bhushan Award
- Appointment as the President of “The News Broadcasters Association (NBA)
- Awarded with INBA “Entrepreneur of the year” at the National Convention
- Conferred with “Tarun Kranti Award”
- Awarded the Best Anchor several times, including the Indian Television Academy Lifetime Achievement Award
- Named as the “Hero of the media industry” in a nation-wide survey that was conducted by the Hindustan Times
During mid-2014, Rajat’s name appeared in an attempted suicide case of one of his female employees. On 2nd July 2014, however, Sharma replied back by sending a legal notice to that employee stating that the allegations were all bogus, and he reserves the right to seek damages.