Hrithik Roshan, The Extreme Entrepreneur Be it acting or business, he does everything with a vision

By Punita Sabharwal

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Hrithik Roshan, an Indian film actor

The Greek God of Bollywood is known for defying the odds and going for the extreme to achieve what he intends. Whether it was his brain surgery, his stammer as a kid, or doctors announcing a bad back, he is a man who treaded his own path. With his killer dance moves or having a great body, he has done everything to master it well. The only hero who looks like a superhero lives by the belief that before giving victory a shot, defeat.

When you meet Hrithik Roshan, there is actually no difference between Hrithik Roshan as a person and Hrithik Roshan as an actor.

He always strives to be the best version of him in real and reel life. "In real life, I try to be a good father, son and a good human being, and in reel life, I adapt to the role and bring out the best performance," says Hrithik Roshan. He seems to be a man on mission – to live the best life possible be it on-stage or off-stage.

When his father Rakesh Roshan decided to cast him in Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai, it came as a surprise to Hrithik Roshan. The script was being discussed at home and his name was suggested for the lead role. He wanted to prepare himself before he started working.

Senior Roshan gave him six months to be in proper shape as he was skinny at that time. Hrithik Roshan worked on his physique and built bulging biceps for the characters (playing double role). However, doctors had advised him against it because of his severe back problem. In fact, the back problem almost prevented him from becoming an actor.

At the age of 21, he was diagnosed with the "back of a 50-year-old man" that would neither allow him to dance nor perform stunts. Heartbroken, he locked himself in a room and stayed dejected for months. "The dream seemed to be over. About a year later, in the mid of July rains, I went to Juhu beach one day. As I stood there wondering about my future, the downpour drenched me, and my eyes turned moist. I decided to take a chance against the doctors of the world who had warned me from lifting "even a pin."

As if enacting a scene from a film, he removed his blazer and started jogging on the beach, taking calculated steps on the wet stretch. As the confidence grew, he ran faster. There was no pain. "The doctors were wrong, I told myself. And that was the day I decided to become an actor.

That was the turning point in my life," shares Roshan. That incident truly defines the passion of Hrithik Roshan whose motivation, enthusiasm and willingness to move beyond the edge of fears has made him what he is.

By using imagination to create possibilities in the mind, by seeing the hidden good in the apparent bad, by visualizing and most importantly being curious of what lies on the other side helped him bounce back.

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger

Talking about how these struggles define him, Roshan says, "What I am today is not in spite of my struggles, but because of them. If you've the right perspective towards your truggles, they can actually become your wings."

Be it acting or business, he does everything with a vision and follows some simple rules to make his vision manifest itself into a reality and unfold his dreams.

Even when HRX, a fitness and lifestyle brand, was incepted, he had a vision to create a platform to share with everyone, to give what he had learnt – each one has a winner inside; all it takes is having a clear goal, will power and relentless pursuit.

Sharing his involvement, he says, "I am personally involved in the design, product creative and testing process. I give my inputs and feedback from the planning stage to the end product. The endeavor is to constantly get the HRX message and overarching philosophy engrained into every product line. Ultimately, it's very important to have a high aim that the entire team is aligned towards – that's the only way to draw the best from everyone."

Roshan's strength has been in envisioning how he wants to be and feel in the future in regards to a situation and then starts acting that way from now. How it was Started The journey of HRX started five years back over a conversation on how we constantly face obstacles in our life and keep pushing ourselves to overcome them.

The thought of reaching and inspiring a billion people to take life through HRX that was launched in 2013. Roshan had three very clear criteria before starting HRX. First, the brand had to stand for something that he was very passionate about and it should have an element of service.

He and his team ticked that box off since a large part of what HRX was linked to fitness and an active lifestyle, which was Roshan's biggest passion and he wanted to share his learnings with the community at large. Second, it had to be in line with recent trends and set-up with the right partners and with the right amount of research.

Third, the platform had to touch every individual. While the brand is inspired by Roshan's philosophy and learnings, the plan is to make more people a part of the HRX movement. That came true when the first brand ambassador Tiger Shroff joined the mission to inspire and reach out to people.

"By doing that, we are establishing a platform to inspire and enable people to become the best version of themselves through fitness and an active lifestyle. And we are extending our reach by building a community around this," says Roshan.

Spreading the belief that it is possible to beat the adversity and emerge victorious has been the DNA of Roshan's fitness and lifestyle brand HRX. In this freewheeling chat, we try to unveil Hrithik Roshan, the entrepreneur.

Is HRX just another brand extension or is there real business?

Until date, HRX has cumulatively sold in excess of 1 million products, our brand messaging and the HRX philosophy has reached over 15 million people. Our annual turnover based on last quarter sales is now in excess of Rs 100 crore, and next year, we would be entering two new product categories along with a major push in fitness – through a movement where we aim to inspire people to use fitness as a platform for their mental and physical wellbeing.

HRX comprises apparel (active wear and casual wear) and its current product portfolio includes footwear, accessories and deodorants. We aim to capture the wide space in the active lifestyle category. I always wanted to develop something for Indian consumers that will inspire them to be confident and promote an active lifestyle.

Flexibility and movement are very important to me in clothes I wear and we are trying to reflect that in the collection. My eventual entrepreneurial goal is to make HRX one of the leading brands in the world with global reach and financial power to give back and impact communities. At personal level, I want HRX to become a symbol of power and strength that I myself can look up to.

Consumers' tastes change with the time. How do you keep pace with that change?

My HRX team and partners Myntra work closely with me on trend forecasting and we have machinery in place to understand consumer aspirations and tastes. We listen to consumers and what they want and give them best possible styles and designs.

Your brand is into multiple categories. So, in which categories we can see expansion in near future?

In the apparel category, HRX will be further expanding its active wear and footwear range. The brand is uniquely poised to capture the performance and active fashion market in India. Our athleisure range should be out in the first half of this year along with additions to women wear portfolio.

In terms of other categories, extensions are being looked into in the space of home work-out equipment, fitness and fashion accessories, innerwear, male grooming products and tech accessories/wearables. All these categories fit the core brand attributes very well and are very exciting growth categories. Currently, the clothing category is being sold online on Myntra and Flipkart. This year, you will be seeing the brand in offline stores as well.

What led you to take the franchise of Indian Super League?

Soccer is one of the biggest sports in the world and touches the maximum number of people. Generally, I have a liking for team sports and sports that involve a lot of adrenalin. Soccer provides both, and it is a very exciting time for the sport in India. There was a very good fit with HRX as well and we are one of the co-sponsors of the FC Pune team.

Are you investing in any start-up?

My team is constantly on the look-out for promising opportunities both for HRX and me as an individual. The start-up ecosystem in our country has positively evolved, and it's great to see so much movement and innovation happening. So definitely we have an eye on this space; it's a matter of finding right synergies

(This article first appeared in the Indian edition of Entrepreneur magazine ( February 2016 Issue).

Punita Sabharwal

Entrepreneur Staff

Deputy Editor, Entrepreneur India Magazine

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