Tamil drama film Soorarai Pottru has recently won the Best Feature Film award at the 68th National Film Awards. Actor Suriya also co-won the Best Actor award for the film, while actress Aparna Balamurali won Best Actress. The film also won the Best Screenplay and Best Music Direction (Background Music) awards.
The film is based on the story of Captain GR Gopinath, retired Army officer and founder of the Air Deccan airline. It is based on his 2011 autobiography Simply Fly: A Deccan Odyssey, which details his journey from riding a bullock cart as a young boy to owning an airline.
Here are 10 facts about GR Gopinath:
1. Gorur Ramaswamy Iyengar Gopinath was born in 1951, in a small village called Gorur, in Karnataka and is the second of eight children. His father homeschooled him for a few years and in class 5 he was enrolled in a Kannada-medium school.
2. In 1962, he joined Bijapur’s Sainik School, where young boys are given training so they can join the armed forces.
3. Following this, he cleared the National Defence Academy exams, graduated from the Indian Military Academy, and spent eight years in the Indian Army. He also fought in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.
4. He took early retirement from the army at age 28, and dabbled in several entrepreneurial ventures, including dairy and poultry farming, owning a hotel, stock brokering, and more.
5. He then started Deccan Aviation, a chartered helicopter service, catering to VIPs.
6. Tasting success in the aviation sector, he now wanted to cater to the lower and upper middle classes. In 2003, he launched Air Deccan, with an investment of Rs 5 crore collected from personal savings, friends, and family.
7. Though the company did well, Gopinath faced stiff competition and in 2007, was forced to sell to Vijay Mallya-owned Kingfisher Airlines.
8. He then launched his third aviation venture, Deccan 360, an air-cargo service, but because of inadequate revenue, had to shut it down in 2013.
9. Although he failed, he also contested for Lok Sabha elections in 2014.
10. In 2017 he wrote another book, You Cannot Miss This Flight: Essays on Emerging India, and serves as a columnist for several media houses. Last month, he also launched another book, Our India: Reflections on a Nation Betwixt and Between.
From Riding a Bullock Cart To Owning an Airline: The True Story of Capt. Gopinath by Roshini Muthukumar, The Better India, 30 October 2020
68th National Film Awards winners list: Suriya’s Soorarai Pottru wins big by The Indian Express, 22 July 2022
Edited by Yoshita Rao