We see them leading snazzy lives, throwing lavish parties, fly personal planes and hobnobbing with whose who . Then all of a sudden a small news crops up on TV about troubles brewing in their company and in no time it is blown in a big scandal. The public anticipates that the accused will be leaving the country and they do, with government announcing they have been tricked. People who have been duped sit fuming.
This has become a common occurrence in India and this is what you get to see in the Netflix’s new docuseries Bad Boys Billionaires: India.
The series covers three big bad boys- Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Subrata Roy. All three episodes focuses on their meteoric rise and then their fall.
Vijay Mallya came from wealthy family but Nirav Modi and Subrata Roy are rags to riches story. All three of them had shared dreams. To be the best and biggest of India. They all had a vision for doing something that no one had ever done in India and they certainly did. Then what went wrong?
Every vision needs to be supported by good business model, honest practices and most important, it needs to spearheaded by a person with ethics. All three failed in ethics. They did not know where to stop or draw a line. The series showcases their rise, their arrogance which led to their fall and how they stopped caring for people who ultimately helped them to become “Big Boys”
It’s amusing to watch Vijay Mallya flimsily claiming “ we hire models for air hostess and serve lobsters in first class” On asked if he is taking huge risk by opening 100 jewellery stores worldwide when world economy is slow, Nirav Modi states “Men still have wives and girlfriend to please so they will buy diamonds and thats why this is a fail proof business”. The interviewer is utterly shocked. Poor and hard working people of India were Subrata Roy’s “investors” who earned 20 -25 rupees per day and gave his company 5 rupees to save money so they could marry of their daughter or educate their children for better life.
Then bad business decisions turn things upside down and you get to see their real character and lack of empathy. You see Vijay Mallya throwing himself a snazzy 60th birthday party flying Enrique Iglesias while he didn’t bother to pay salaries to his employees for six months. Subrata Roy worried about his weight and had a yoga instructor visiting him in jail. One of the interviewees aptly quotes he actually wrote a book from the jail as if he was Mahatma Gandhi.
The makers have interviewed people who were closely working with these men who seem to be hell bent on portraying the accused in a very positive light. That is quite bothersome to the extent that the series feels like PR stunt to enhance their image. There is also no reference of the political nexus that could have helped these men fled. In fact, there seems to be effort of mentioning political pressure being mounted on the accused to show the government in good light.
There are also heart wrenching interviews of people talking about their agonies and difficulties they have been facing because of the frauds committed. Hard working, poor, honest , simple people who have been duped and do not know how to ride out of it. An agitated ex employee of Kingfisher states “Vijay Mallya is a normal criminal except he wears fancy clothes and throws lavish parties”
The series raises many questions on why there is no regulatory framework to check fraudulent activities? Why Indian government failed to locate Nirav Modi when a simple British investigative journalist could? Will they ever be brought back to India and will the people who have been wronged will get justice?
With its drawbacks its a reasonably good watch if you like world of business. It is a 3.5 out 5 stars from me.