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MAY 2009 EMAIL THIS ARTICLE PRINT THIS PAGE

The new King of Swing

think)beyond_inc

He’s at the helm of an IT business, but Ranjan Chopra, CEO, Team Computers, is hardly a nerd. Not only can he play Elvis and Sinatra on the saxophone, he’s also setting up a music centre on the top floor of his office where he can jam with others.

BY POOJA KOTHARI
The office of Team Computers is located in a bylane, just behind one of the top hotels in South Delhi. A first-time visitor would have a hard time even imagining that the office of a Rs 200-crore IT company can be located in that street.

The company’s chairman and managing director, Ranjan Chopra, is as much of a paradox. His unassuming demeanour belies a multi-faceted personality. He quotes Ricardo Semler and Danny
Meyer with as much ease as the Ashthavakra Gita, a scripture in Hindu mythology. In the same breath, he moves from business analytics to having a band play at the top floor of his office. He awards points to wines from all over the world with the confidence of a connoisseur. And he talks about plucking carrots in Italy, working on the farms in Greece and driving trucks in Italy, as if it was all in a day’s work.

Not to mention he’s one of the few CEOs in India who can play the saxophone. Not particularly musically-inclined during his school days in Kolkata, his tryst with the sax began rather late in life. Walking around Times Square in Manhattan in 2001, he and his wife spotted a music store and decided to look around. “Many years earlier, I had participated in a workshop and made a list of things I wanted to do in my lifetime. Playing the saxophone was one of them. So my wife said, let’s start now,” says the 1983-graduate from IIT Kanpur. The store had an interesting deal: it was giving saxophones, normally priced upwards of $1,000, for a measly down payment and an 11-month return policy. Chopra decided he had nothing to lose. So post some on-the-spot online search, he walked out with a Yamaha model.

questions It took him a year to find someone to teach him how to play the instrument. Over an hour a week, he took lessons for 8-odd months before he outgrew his teacher. Trips abroad were used to find more practice material. He may not be a pro yet, but he has enough confidence to play at get-togethers and office dos – everything from Frank Sinatra to Elvis to Latino.

His interest in music has also resulted in a music centre on the top floor of his office. “We’ve got a professional Bose system, powerful enough for 500 people. We work such crazy hours that we decided to have some fun as well. My marketing head plays the keyboard; we’re now looking for a drum set. Then we’ll be set to jam,” adds Chopra, who hopes to formally launch the centre in May to hold regular live music sessions.

“I love live music, whatever it is,” says he. In fact, taking inspiration from Birdland in New York, he has toyed with the idea of launching a finger food, wine and music joint in Delhi. He even has a visiting card for “Zorba Live” – his name for the so-far-unrealised dream. Chopra wants to bring B- and C-category bands and musicians from all over the world and have them play to a middle-class audience at affordable prices. But that is still on his list of to-dos.

Meanwhile, he’s happy searching for a 95-pointer wine bottle from a non-French vineyard. Like he did on his recent trip to Barcelona, where in a remote 50-house village, he convinced the caretaker to open one of his last few bottles of a really good Spanish wine.

For someone who’s so high on life, Chopra hardly needs a tipple.

 

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