En route a road less travelled
Unfolding the life of Bharat Jagmohan Mehra - fighter, art connoisseur and budding philanthropist
In the year 1989, when many aspiring actors dreamt of a career in Bollywood, Bharat Jagmohan Mehra turned down a hero's role to follow his dreams and build a career elsewhere. Living in Dusseldorf, Germany, where destiny forced him to wash cars, his life evolved.
Going through hardships, he gained valuable insights into life and three decades, later Mehra is back as a subject himself in a mega web series. Although, it is in the initial stages, here is a teaser.
Mehra grew up in an environment surrounded by Bollywood celebrities because his father was a movie producer. Distantly related to the Raj Kapoor family, he recalls B R Chopra's visit to his house in Lahore at Five Queens Road as his father's English tutor.
Suraiyya Khan, a prominent author, wrote a book on Five Queens Road as she used to be the tenant at this address. In this stunning novel that weaves family saga and national history, she writes deftly of characters who battle memories and each other alike.
"Mohammad Rafi, Kishore Kumar were my father's friends. Thanks to Joy Mukherjee, my mentor, who took me around and helped me meet film stars," Mehra quips.
Although he was surrounded by filmdom, it never fascinated him. Instead, he chose to build a career in logistics in New York only to return to India 20 years later.
Mehra married in 1988 and is the father to a son and daughter. Although he is based in Mumbai, he often visits Dubai. Over the last 25 years, he has developed a strong desire for philanthropic activities and supporting the destitute.
Living his life to the fullest, Mehra's passion has been towards wristwatches, perfumes and paintings. Having collected more than 300 wristwatches, his enormous collection of perfumes is restricted to selective brands. His painting collection includes the famed works of MF Hussain, Hemen Mazumdar, Rabindranath Tagore, Gaganendranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose, Abdur Rahman Chughtai, Wasim Kapoor and Jamini Roy.
He is also a renowned social worker and chairman of Radha Meera Trust, which is supported by Ajay Piramal Group, besides being the chairman of Krishna Kali Trust. Through this trust, he provides free food, medical services, and education to over 1,500 people daily. He intends to launch free medical stores and ambulance services in Kolkata. He is also determined to serve the rest of the country to ensure that people can exercise their basic human rights.
Mehra always maintains a positive attitude and the pandemic was no different for him. "It's been a hard year for all of us. A year of loss but many lessons learned equipping us to face challenges and keep fighting. But good things are yet to come. So, let's fight this pandemic until we win," he says.
Making it on his own
Mehra was born on December 11, 1968, in Mumbai and is the only child of his parents. His family hails from Lahore, Pakistan. During the Partition of 1947, they left their ancestors' renowned home at Five Queens Road in the Pakistani city. As the family used to own Connaught Place in New Delhi, India, they moved there. After the death of his father in 1986, the family was left with little money. It was then that a producer approached him for an audition in a movie. Unsure of his next plan, Mehra borrowed Rs 25,000 from his mother and flew to Germany to his cousin's place.
The German tourist visa put him in a strenuous situation as he could stay only for a limited period and could not legally work. Still, Mehra decided to stay and try his luck.
One freezing evening when Mehra was sitting on a bench pondering, a young woman named Antje Hofious sat next to him and eventually they entered into a conversation. The lady helped him find a job at a Mercedes Benz showroom where his duty was to wash cars. He was quick to save up enough at this job to move to New York.
"With no plans and very little money, I found a bed space in New York where I slept at night and looked for work during the day. One day, I found a job in a courier company where I started as an office boy with a meagre salary of less than $700 per month. Once settled in, I started to take a greater interest in the company's work," he recollects.
It is at this organisation, Mehra's fate and fortune changed forever. During those days, courier companies used to export integrated chips (IC) to India and other countries that were taxed heavily. The chipmakers found it difficult to enter India bypassing customs.
When Mehra was asked to handle the shipment of ICs, he knew his way out. With his loopholes, the chipmakers' profit multiplied, and they were overjoyed. This boosted his salary to $7,000 a month.
One day, the owner of the company wished to meet Mehra. "I was a bit apprehensive as I was still in an early stage of my career. However, when I entered his cabin, he advised me to take over the offices of New York, Chicago, and a few other cities. He asked me if I would be able to manage this responsibility to which I positively replied, and this changed my life forever." After a high-flying flamboyant life of 15 years, Mehra decided to move back to his roots - India.
A new path
He read numerous astrology books, which gave him certain insights into people's lives. His meeting with Indian billionaire Ajay Piramal gave him a new direction. What started as a casual friendship developed into a business relationship when Mehra started giving strategic advice to Piramal and helped him in vital business decisions.
As the relation is built on trust, even today Piramal counts on Mehra. Offering strategic advice and guidance to him, Mehra runs some charities along with him. Currently, Mehra is spreading the message of positivity to his audiences through social media posts on good virtues.
To most of his followers, he says: "The bad thing is, time flies. The good thing is, you are the pilot."