Raj Nayak pens memoir for KVL Narayan Rao

By Raj Nayak , Mumbai | In Media Publishing | November 22, 2017
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Rao, NDTV's Group CEO and executive vice chairperson, passed away on November 20, 2017

Tall in height and tall in stature - that's how I would describe Mr Narayan Rao.

I first met Narayan Rao when I was working at Star TV (in those days all the content for Star News was produced by NDTV), but I really got to know him when I quit STAR and set up NDTV Media.

Raj Nayak (left) with KVL Narayan Rao Raj Nayak (left) with KVL Narayan Rao

His background was fascinating; he started his career as a journalist, went on to join the Indian Revenue Service and then got back to media to help Prannoy and Radhika build NDTV. He stuck with Prannoy and Radhika thru thick and thin. His integrity and loyalty to his friends were unquestionable.

An amazing human being who could charm you with his infectious smile and humour, he had a baritone voice and for many who don't know, it is his voice you will hear on the channel that says - This is NDTV and you are watching NDTV 24/7.

His sheer personality, all 6.5 feet of it, could be intimidating, but he was all heart. He was a man for all seasons. He had an innate ability to handle the most complex of situations delicately and deal with people across all spheres, industries and government, from the lowest rung to the head honcho. He was a brilliant administrator.

To me he was always Mr Rao until one day he insisted I started calling him Narayan. He was someone I deeply admired, loved and respected.

Narayan was a good listener and even if he couldn't give you a solution, the fact that he listened to you and showed empathy would make you feel lighter. He was someone you could easily confide in and somebody you could trust. He was the go-to person for many people at NDTV.

Even in the tensest situations I have not seen Narayan get angry. He would maintain his cool and lighten the situation with his infectious laughter. Yet he would make his point and hold on to his views.

He was very sophisticated in his demeanour and very charismatic. He loved his whiskey and could chat with you for hours over a long drink.

Narayan had many stories to tell of his father, Gen K V Krishna Rao when he was in Army and also as the Governor of Jammu & Kashmir. I have fond memories of many evenings spent together listening to his stories.

What I will never ever forget was when I was going through my court battle with Star TV, Narayan Rao made it a point to fly to Mumbai and be with me for every court hearing. He gave me the moral support and strength (during those turbulent nine months) I so desperately needed at that time. I will always be grateful to him for that gesture.

The last I met Narayan was at an industry meet in Mumbai when he told me about his cancer. I did not realise that it would get to him so quickly. My only regret is I couldn't make it for his son's wedding in spite of having booked my plane tickets and hotel stay. Nor did I make an effort to go and spend any quality time with him knowing he was suffering from cancer. A regret I will have to live with.

When I got a message saying he is no more, for a moment I was in disbelief. I am still shocked and numb. My prayers are with Renu, his wife, and his sons.

Narayan, I only wish I had told you how much I admired and loved you when you were alive.

I will miss you a lot, Sir!

The author of this article is Raj Nayak, chief operating officer, Viacom18.

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