Okay, I finally gave in and actually clicked on one of those articles about the Tata Company implosion. And then I had to go back to my old friend wikipedia to confirm what I thought I remembered, that this is all a bit of a family feud. And yep! Everyone is related! MESSY!
It’s just so filmi! The whole family, so filmi! I don’t know anything about business, but I do know about Indian film melodrama and family conflict. And oh, MAN! Here’s an idea for solving all their business problems: open a film wing, make a series of biopics based on their family stories, make all the money in the world!!!!
Jamshedji Tata, founder of the Tata Corporation, supposedly was turned away from the Victoria Hotel in Bombay because no “natives” where allowed. So he declared he would build a better hotel than any British had built in all of India. Thus, the Taj. Also, totally sounds like something Aamir would do in Lagaan, right?
(Or Saif in Kal Ho Na Ho!)
Jamshedji had two sons, Dorabji and Ratanji. Both of them married at an appropriate age, but failed to have any children. Until one day Ratanji’s wife, Lady Tata (Ratanji was knighted at some point after he became fabulously wealthy and started giving away most of his fortune to charity), went to visit a Parsi orphanage in Bombay, where she was taken by an intelligent 13 year old boy, who’s father had died years earlier and who’s mother had placed in the orphanage when she could no longer support him. Thus, Naval Tata was adopted into the family. Just like Salman in Baghban and Shahrukh in K3G.
Naval grew up and had an arranged family and two sons. But the marriage failed, and he and his wife divorced. At age 51, a beautiful Swiss tourist Simone met him in Bombay and they fell in love. He remarried, and had another son with Simone. Just like Shahrukh in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai! Sort of! If Rani had divorced him instead of dead and Kajol were white! Okay, so there’s not a lot of post-divorce love stories in Indian film.
(Okay, so there’s one post-divorce love song, but she divorces the white person and marries the desi, so it’s kind of the opposite)
Ratan Tata, Naval’s oldest son, took over the company in 1991, and brought it to new heights. In his personal life, NOTHING! No wife, no kids, no nothing. Just like Nagarjuna in Manam! He dedicated himself to his business, and the massive charitable trust that owns a 60% stake in it.
(Hopefully someday Ratan runs across a young man and woman who are exactly like his dead parents, only in this life they are able to work out their marital problems and some Swiss woman never becomes a part of their lives)
But wait! A villain appears! The largest individual stockholder is another Parsi Bombay businessman, Pallonji Mistry. He first bought into the business back in the 1930s. And his daughter went on to marry Ratan’s younger half-brother. Maybe they fell in love, after knowing each other their whole lives their eyes met and it just felt meant to be. Or maybe after considering all the other possible proposals, their families agreed that their personalities and experiences and beliefs were just a perfect match and a marriage was arranged. Or, just possible, the Tatas decided it would be best to get a marriage connection with the family that had the largest single stake in their business and the Mistry’s thought it might be good to marry into the family and get a shot at someday inheriting it all.
And now, just like Hrithik in Jodha-Akbar and his sister and his brother-in-law who was going to war against him, plus his wife’s cousin brother, it’s all family and messy! Cyrus Mistry, Ratan Tata’s sister-in-law’s brother/son of the largest shareholder was appointed as his successor as chair of the entire Tata company 4 years ago. Ratan stayed on as an adviser for a while and then was supposed to phase out. But instead of phasing out, he’s back! The board has ousted Mistry and brought back Ratan on an interim basis while they try to find someone else! Sooooooooo messy! Oh, Ek Rishtaa! That’s another one! Also, The Godfather.
(I just assume this is what it was like when Ratan Tata was announced as the returning CEO)
Anyway, just looking at this from the purely family perspective, I am strongly betting on Tata’s younger brother Noel, Cyrus’ brother-in-law, being the next CEO. He’s experienced enough to handle it now, but still fairly young (at least, younger than his 78 year old brother). And his wife can play peacemaker with the Mistrys.