The new K in Balaji is Konstruction
Diversification into construction is actor’s personal initiative. Ties up with Hiranandanis
Vickey Lalwani and Yogesh Sadhwani (MUMBAI MIRROR; September 9, 2012)
Eighteen years after taking a profitable plunge into the television industry, followed by movies, Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji Group has now entered Mumbai’s real estate market, defying a downturn that has stalled many construction projects and ventures.
In the works are two projects: a commercial complex in Chandivli, Andheri East, and a residential one in Mira Road – both being handled by her father and yesteryear star Jeetandra through group firms Balaji Developers and JK Developers.
The Andheri project, named Lighthall, is being executed through a joint venture with realty major Hiranandani, and is already in an advanced stage; two towers boasting 7 lakh-sq ft space currently stand on a land partly owned by Jeetandra. The venture in Mira Road, where the actor owns a Rs 25-crore plot, is still in the planning process.
The industry buzz is that Jeetandra is scouring for real estate possibilities in the city and suburbs. The news is likely to inject some life in the industry that has been in a funk over policy issues, pending clearances, cash crunch and poor demand.
When Mirror contacted Bollywood’s Jumping Jack, he confirmed his venture into the property market. “It happened by chance. As of now, just these two projects, but who knows what plans the destiny has for me ahead,” he said diplomatically.
‘TV Czarina’ Ekta told this paper that she was strictly into television and films, and her group’s realty plunge was entirely her father’s idea. Jeetendra, however, said: “I will soon transfer the properties into Ekta and Tusshar’s names. At this age (68), it’s not easy to get into paperwork and legal issues, which are synonymous with the real estate business.”
He added: “But I am putting my best foot forward, and I hope it pans out well.”
Industry players Mirror spoke to said that the senior actor first got a taste of the market when he entered into an auction for the Andheri plot, located close to one of Balaji’s studios, about five years ago. Hiranandani also made a bid, and the two eventually joined hands.
Initially, Jeetendra had planned to build a “studio complex” at the plot, but two years ago the idea gave way for Lighthall. The project’s two buildings have been constructed, and internal work is underway.
“A part of the land on which the project is coming up was owned by Jeetendra. We are developing and marketing it,” Niranjan Hiranandani of Hiranandani Group told this paper. Over the years, Jeetendra has also become good friends with Niranjan’s brother, Surendra.
The Mira Road land is located near Green Court Club. It was earlier ensnared in a dispute with RNA Builders, which had claimed to be its owner since 1987. “The matter with RNA has been sorted out. The land is mine now. I thought why not utilise it to the maximum,” Jeetendra said. “After I get environmental clearance, the construction of residential buildings will begin. This might take about a year.”
The industry sources said that like in the case of the Andheri land, Jeetendra had originally planned a studio on the Mira Road plot.
Sources in Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation revealed that Balaji Developers had already taken a ‘commencement certificate’ for the residential project, which will see construction of several buildings.
The entry into realty marks Balaji Group’s most ambitious move after it entered the television industry in 1994. That start, however, was not a runaway success. The first two serials produced by Balaji Telefilms were rejected by all satellite channels.
Things turned around in 1995 when its serial Mano Ya Na Mano was aired on Zee TV. Thereafter, Balaji Telefilms came out with a series of popular TV soaps. Buoyed by the success, the group entered film production in 2002. Balaji Motion Pictures is now the name behind critically acclaimed films Love Sex Aur Dhokha, Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai, Shor In The City and The Dirty Picture, among others.
The construction sites at Andheri and Mira Road
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