A 'real' cool guy

Amit Burman says he likes to live life king size. So, we met the 38-year-old Vice Chairman of Dabur for a meal to find out a bit more.

Dhiman Chattopadhyay        Print Edition: June 29, 2008

A qualified pilot and a trained bartender, this fitness freak can even surprise you by singing old Shammi Kapoor numbers at your wedding if you count him as a close friend. What then is Amit Burman doing at the helm of a multi-crore empire, selling fruit juices and planning a chain of restaurants?

Amit Burman
Amit Burman
“I never thought of doing anything else really. I always knew I was meant to run the family business one day,” says the 38-yearyoung Burman, effortlessly scooping up a piece of sea bass with chopsticks as we meet for an interview at Wasabi—the new Japanese specialty restaurant at Delhi’s Taj Mahal Hotel. The Vice Chairman of Dabur is nattily dressed, in a Zara checked shirt and a pair of charcoal grey trousers. And he is candid about life on the verge of 40.

“I like to stay in shape, work out five times a week, spend hours playing Monopoly with my kids and generally eat healthy,” he says. But first things first. It was in 1996 that a 20-something Burman returned to India with an array of degrees to join the family business. “I kept doing more courses so that I could stay abroad longer, but in the end I guess I received the marching-back orders,” he jokes.

The first few months at Dabur weren’t fun, though. “I was a bit lost and just floated around looking at different divisions. Then, I had this idea to launch fruit juices, which were 100 per cent real, since I realised that one didn’t have packed fresh juices in India,” he recalls.

 Inside Track

Born: In Kolkata, July 16, 1969

Family: Mother Asha, wife Divya and children Diya and Adhiraj

Educated: St Columba’s, Lee High University, Columbia University and Cambridge University

First job: In 1992 at Tishcon in the US

First salary: $1,000 per month

Music: Cranberries, U2, alternative rock

Favourite film:Godfather

Hobbies: Travelling, working out, swimming, flying planes

Food: Italian, Japanese

Favourite drink: Vodka with soda

Best advice: Believe! Trust your team

Personal mantra: Live life kingsize

For a couple of years, the ‘Real’ brand didn’t do that well. “But well, I was family. So I couldn’t really be sacked, could I?” he laughs. Today, the foods division has revenues of Rs 300 crore and Burman is rightfully proud of his achievement. Is he a health food freak, then? “Not really. My weekends are sinful. I gorge on pizzas and pasta and hang out with friends at the Polo Lounge or at 360 degrees. And I do enjoy my glass of Grey Goose vodka with soda,” he says.

Fitness is another matter altogether. Burman works out at his state-of-the-art home gym five times a week and a trainer helps him do weights. He also dresses smart. “I wear Zara shirts and love Ravi Bajaj suits. After dark, it’s usually a Prada or a Gucci,” he says, adding that he also has a collection of shoes—some of them in red, blue and yellow.

 Amit’s day out

7.30 a.m.

Plays a bit with his children before they head off to school

9.30 a. m.

Leaves for office. Breakfast consists of an apple, which he eats in the car

9 a.m. - 6 p.m.

At work. Busy with meetings and regular updates on projects.

6.30 p.m.

Works out for an hour at his home gym.

7.30 p.m.

Sauna and a shower

8 p.m.

Spends an hour playing Monopoly with children. Daughter Diya plays the guitar, so, he listens to her strumming away.

9.15 p.m.

Dinner with the family at home unless there’s a party to attend.

Things are getting interesting, I tell myself, as we focus on some great chicken teriyaki. What sort of food does he like? “Italian and Japanese,” he replies without a pause, adding: “But I like trying out new cuisines whenever I travel.” Greece is one place he would love to go back to, having fallen in love with the magical islands. And if there’s a dream destination, it has to be Rio in Brazil.

Burman has many passions. “We now have a company, which will distribute new world wines. Personally, I love the Tuscan red wines,” he reveals. He also has a chain of restaurants called Street Foods of India.

Hasn’t he ever done anything that’s wild and fun? Burman chuckles. “Oh, quite a lot actually. In the US, I learnt the art of bartending in Kansas. My parents didn’t know, of course,” he laughs. What else? “Well, I have done the catwalk a couple of times and if you are lucky, you can spot me at a party wearing yellow shoes,” he says. Now that’s really cool.

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