IN CONVERSATION: Uday Shankar, The Man Behind Bollywood’s Campaign for Uttarakhand

Independence Day saw Bollywood and Television stars coming together to raise funds for flood ravaged Uttarakhand. The ‘Saath Hain Hum Uttarakhand’ initiative undertaken under the guidance of CEO, Star India, Mr. Uday Shankar, is the first undertaken by a media conglomerate with Bollywood stars aboard. In an exclusive to Business Of Cinema, Mr. Uday Shankar shares his experience.


MUMBAI: India brought in a quiet Independence Day with low-key celebrations owing to the floods in Uttarakhand. But the entire Bollywood and television brigade joined in to celebrate Independence Day with a noble cause. 

The ‘Saath Hain Hum Uttarakhand’ initiative had Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Bhatt brothers – Mahesh and Mukesh, Raveena Tandon, Imran Khan, John Abraham, Abhishek Bachchan and a plethora of stars join the cause. In an exclusive to Business Of Cinema, CEO, Star India, Mr. Uday Shankar shares his experience on being the first media conglomerate to kick-start the Uttarakhand campaign with Bollywood stars on board. 

BOC: Star India is the first media-conglomerate to start the fund-raising campaign. Your views.

Uday Shankar: The unprecedented tragedy in Uttarakhand was extremely distressing. When floods washed away entire towns and with it hundreds of people in Uttarakhand earlier this year, there was very little for the survivors to look forward to and to hope for. Even as attention of the press has moved on, the people of Uttarakhand are still recovering from the devastation and trying to piece back their lives.

The catastrophe gripped the attention of the entire world but the immediate need was to lend a helping hand in the arduous task of rebuilding the flood-ravaged hill-state and speedy rehabilitation of those who survived nature’s wrath. It was with this thought that Star India conceived ‘Saath Hain Hum Uttarakhand’ a marathon, seven-hour television event to galvanize support for the citizens of the state.

BOC: It was a mammoth task to organise the grand event. Please give us an insight into the making of the event.

Uday Shankar: We have always believed in leveraging the power of television as a force for good. And, in the aftermath of the devastation, we saw an opportunity to leverage our network to raise awareness as well as resources for the rehabilitation efforts. Our aim was to capture the attention of the Indian television viewer in two ways — one to make them tune in to watch the fund-raiser gala, advertising proceeds of which will go to rehabilitation efforts in the hill-state; and to encourage them to contribute themselves.

BOC: What industry support have you received for this initiative?

Uday Shankar: An initiative of this scale and magnitude was conceived jointly by Star India and the Bhatts – Mahesh and Mukesh. A tragedy of this enormity requires an all-out response. The entertainment world, which greatly influences our daily lives, didn’t shy away from doing its bit and got together instantly for Uttarakhand.

BOC: How has the support been?

Uday Shankar: We are humbled to receive an overwhelming and unflinching support from icons of the Indian film and television world. Star India is extremely thankful to the legends of Hindi Film Industry for being a part of this initiative and sincerely hopes that this effort will go a long way in restoring the lost glory of this serene hill-state.

BOC: What is the next step in this initiative taken by Star India, now that the event has been hugely successful?

Uday Shankar: This is the second phase of Star India’s efforts to aid rehabilitation work in Uttarakhand. We had started focused campaigns in July, featuring some of the biggest actors from popular shows of Star India’s network channels. These promos were aimed at mustering support and encouraging viewers to donate generously for the cause. This was an immediate action and from a long-term perspective, we planned the Independence Day fund-raiser – Saath Hain Hum Uttarakhand.

BOC: How far you will go ahead with the campaign?

Uday Shankar: We will continue to do all that’s within our means to support Uttarakhand’s cause. If required, we will definitely extend the scope of this exercise. Our mission remains to inspire a billion imaginations and the most important task at the moment is to inspire people to help create a new Uttarakhand.

BOC: How much has the ‘Saath Hain Hum Uttarakhand’ campaign managed to garner for Uttarakhand?

Uday Shankar: Star India will channel the entire advertising revenue that was generated through the broadcast of this live event to our NGO partners – Himmotthan Society and People’s Science Institute. The event was broadcast live on key channels of Star India including flagship Star Plus, Life OK, Star Utsav, Star Pravah and Channel V.

The total value of funds to be donated will also include those collected from our viewers worldwide through dedicated lines that’ll be open from August 15 to September 7. It’ll be extremely unfair to put a figure to this right now as we’ll know the exact value only when the entire process is completed.

(To see photos from the event, click HERE)


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