Reflections on Amit Khanna

By Pickle  December 13, 2019

THE MEDIA GURU AMIT KHANNA: poet, lyricist, writer, filmmaker and historian

RONNIE SCREWVALA Entrepreneur & Co Founder & Chairman – upGrad

“Amit has ridden the lows and the highs of an industry, and that is what makes him the maverick he is. To say he has seen it all would be an understatement as his career and contribution to Media, News & Journalism as well as Entertainment has been deep and long. At all times Amit has been the voice of reason, always looking at the long-term picture and many times has placed the Industry growth higher than his own personal plans. An Encyclopedia is a reservoir of knowledge, history and a Leader is one who walks the talk and Amit exemplifies both”

SHYAM BENEGAL Noted Film Director and Screenwriter

“Amit Khanna is a living encyclopedia of Indian Cinema. For most part of his career he has been a practising Film Producer and Production Executive with leading film production companies in India. During his nonworking hours he runs International Film Festivals of high repute and freely offers help and support to film appreciation communities. All in all, he is an enormous asset to both the Cinema Industry as well as to cineastes of our country. Best of all, I can count him among my good and reliable friends”

KARAN JOHAR Producer and Director

“He is a treasure trove of experience of the media and entertainment business ….his thoughts have been exceptionally visionary ….grab this as soon as you can! the veteran AMIT KHANNA has a book coming out!”


“Amit is a very knowledgeable and generous friend, always willing to share knowledge and advice. His book will become seminal reading. He is rare because his talent spans the creative, the intellectual and the commercial world”

SAM BALSARA Founder, Chairman and MD of Madison World

“I have known Amit Khanna for over 35 years as a leading figure in the entertainment industry traversing all its forms like Film or Music and all its aspects whether it is Direction, Production or Writing. Whilst, he has retired from active working life, he continues to promote the cause of the Industry and has become a vociferous commentator on what the future lies for the Entertainment Industry”

SHABANA AZMI Noted Indian Actress

“Amit Khanna has always been ahead of the time – a pioneer in the true sense of the word. He was the first person who told me that the computer (which was then as big as a small room) will become tiny enough to hold in the hand, and that the Gaming Industry will take over all forms of entertainments. His Television Company – Plus Channel – gave the Industry at least 80 percent of the talent that rules the roost today. As the head of Reliance Entertainment, he cracked a partnership with Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks and made Hollywood realise that India is a big player. A voracious reader with an enviable memory, he is bilingual in a way few are. All of this holds him in good stead when he puts pen to paper. His song written for Basu Chatterjee’s Swami, “Pal bhar mein yeh kya ho gaya…” continues to have one of the highest recall values of songs picturised on me. He is my go-to person when I want an Urdu poem translated into English or when I need information about the business side of Media and Entertainment industry. I am looking forward to reading his new book at the earliest”

ARJUN APPADURAI Goddard Professor in Media, Culture and Communication, New York University

“Amit Khanna is one of a kind. No one has had such a variety of involvements with the world of Indian media as he: lyricist, poet, producer, critic, industry advocate, media industry leader. What is most remarkable is that Amit is also a scholar and thinker who knows the history of Indian media better than most and is also the sharpest student of its future. He is a renaissance man, whom I am proud to celebrate and to have as a friend”


“He is one of the most visionary persons I have ever met. All that is happening in the media space today the private channels, niche audience demanding their own content, the rise of internet and the social media – Amit had predicted it in the 80s and the 90s. He is a brilliant man. An accomplished lyricist, he is also a screenplay writer, dialogue writer, director, and producer. Nobody was making a film with me after Dharavi when Shiv Sena, but Amit helped me and re-established my career. So, I owe it to him for what I am today. I cherish that there is somebody who is watching my back. In his book, I am looking forward to what he is going to say about the future. I think it will be very useful for the younger generation to read it. I think it should be a compulsory reading in all film schools. I think it should be there in every library, along with the digital edition. He is a rare man. I am privileged to have him as an elder brother almost”

NAJEEB JUNG Former Lieutenant Governor of Delhi

“Amit is a rare genius. Having known him from school, I am aware of his vast talents that he has repeatedly displayed over the 40 years in the Bombay film industry. His association with Dev Anand and Navketan Films is a stuff of legend. His film producing abilities, talent in writing high quality poetry and film songs, his grasp and understanding of the mechanics of the film industry exhibit his brilliance. I am a proud recipient of his affection and friendship”

SURESH JINDAL Producer and Filmmaker

“Amit is one of my earliest friends in the industry. He is a remarkable person. He is a man of many talents. He is a multifaceted person and very low profile. I have known Amit for a long time and he is a very sincere friend. He is always there when you need him. I just wish his book does phenomenally well. He has been a guiding force of the industry. When he started Plus Channel, he started it overnight. He sold everything he had. He is that kind of a person. He is a risk taker. He is a man of great vision”

LAURE KALTENBACH Chairman and co-founder of CreativeTech

“Amit Khanna is a man who keeps on surprising. When the adventure of the Forum d’Avignon (international think-tank and meetings on the links between culture, economy and innovation) was in its infancy, he agreed to become its part. We hardly knew about each other but his curiosity, interest for other cultures and sharing helped forge links that have lasted over 10 years. The values of constancy, fidelity and transmission of knowledge and friendships are beautiful lessons to share throughout the world. This energy will never end”

DILIP CHENOY Secretary General, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry

“Amit Khanna is a man of action for the Indian M&E industry. He visualized the convergence of media, telecom, IT and venture capitalists way back in late 90s. His yeoman service and leadership to the M&E sector has created thousands of jobs and made subsequent generations take up media as a career. No doubt, his new book “Words, Sounds, Images” will guide us to prepare for a bright M&E future”

LEENA JAISANI Assistant Secretary General, FICCI

“Mr Amit Khanna is undoubtedly not just a guru to me but to the industry… He was the only person who understood numbers of M & E and its importance. The first and many reports of the industry was brought out due to the deep insights and understanding that he shared so generously… as the first co-chair of the media and entertainment committee he was a guiding light for all the work we accomplished. To me personally, he is a true mentor and guide. He is a standalone university of media and entertainment”

SUPRAN SEN Secretary General, Film Federation of India

“I first met Amitji in IMPPA office in 1975-76. I was IMPPA’s Secretary and some dispute was on with regard to titles Despardesh applied by Navketan and Des Videsh booked by another producer. The title registration committee headed by late Shri P N Arora rejected Despardesh on the ground of similarity with Des Videsh. Amitji very softly explained to me that there was no similarity between the titles as Pardesh could be within the country but Videsh meant a foreign country. Ultimately Despardesh was registered in favour of Navketan. My actual journey commenced with him when I joined All India Film Producers Council, Film Federation of India and later Film Producers Guild of India. He was a very dynamic person and believed in prompt actions. He was a hard task master but erudite and hence I enjoyed his bossing. At his insistence, Film Federation of India joined FIAPF. He always forced me to ensure that the organisation took active part in film festivals and major film events. During his tenure as President of Guild, we were part of many delegations in India and abroad, including London, Cannes, Tokyo, Los Angeles et al.. I have been visiting Cannes for the last 27 years but as part of Guild delegation under him in Cannes was the most enjoyable. The dinner hosted by Guild still remains unparalleled. Once, I had to be hospitalised, Amit Khanna helped, and now I got my second life to live. I have been eagerly awaiting to read his book as I have to learn many more things from him”

ASHISH SK Chairman-Founder, Punnaryug Artvision Pvt Ltd & Founder-CEO, Screenyug Creations Pvt Ltd

“Amit Ji has been a great source of information and inspiration for many in the M&E industry. He’s a great lyricist and a man of vision. Always driven by his own style, he brought all of us together under the “E – Entertainment Alliance” umbrella. His ability to delve deep into a subject and enlighten the industry with possible future trends was simply amazing. He was one of the few Indian industry researchers who could clearly see the mobile growth and content play through hand-held devices early on. I wish him all the best for the launch of his much awaited book”

ARVIND RAJAGOPAL Author and Professor of Media Studies, New York University

“Amit Khanna is a legendary figure in India’s media and entertainment industry, someone who can provide a historical perspective on its growth and evolution. As a widely-read and much travelled person, he can also offer astute comparisons drawn from across the world to understand what has been happening in the Indian scene”

DR.S.RAGHUNATH Professor of Strategy, IIM Bangalore

“Amit Khanna ji is one of those media and entertainment industry icons whose significance exceeds popular familiarity with his work. His insights and language ensure his contributions are still appreciated for their contemporary outlook and observations. If you look long enough with sufficient determination through his prodigious output, you will find valuable commentary on the current trends in the M&E industry”

KAVERI BAMZAI Author and Journalist

“There are three most remarkable aspects to Amit Khanna. One, his ability to gather talented people around him and mentor them. The professionals at Plus Channel were some of the best in their fields at the time, whether it as in writing or directing or broadcasting. Two, he’s always been ahead of the curve. Plus Channel was one of the first corporate production houses in the country which started the idea of producing a series of movies in a year, and though it eventually folded up, it set the stage for an organised future. And last, he saw the opportunity in globalised filmmaking and as chairman of Reliance Entertainment inked a far reaching agreement with Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks. Through it all he has remained a poet, a lyricist, a raconteur and a storyteller who carries the core of the film industry deep within his heart”


“Amit Khanna came to limelight in the Hindi film industry as someone related to Dev Anand. But it was as a lyrics writer that he made his reputation. This love for poetry and curiosity about the developments in the film industry made him a prophet of his time and a man ahead of the trends. We used to attend the FICCI and Producers Guild meetings with policymakers in Delhi to discuss the setting up of an independent body, a sort of OFCOM or FCC, to regulate the electronic and TV industry. Amit’s was always a disruptive voice. He was convinced it was only a matter of years before digital media would take over and content would be delivered through the internet. His argument, therefore, was that the government policies or censorship would never be able to keep pace with the changes taking place in technology. When you see the speed with which social media has grown in India, the digital streaming platforms that is making both TV and cinema halls obsolete, you realise how much of a true media prophet he is. A remarkably prescient mind who understands entertainment media like few do in India”

BIREN GHOSE Country Head, Technicolor India

“Amit Khanna has always been ahead of his time. He has spoken not only about where the media and entertainment industry is but where it should be. He made me realize from the earliest times when I met him that he was at an altitude in his thinking that talked of future states. Many people in the industry – in film and television – have seen him as a great mentor. In a fragmented industry that had resisted change for years, he was constantly a part of several forums that tried to make others see the potential in themselves, in the economy and the power of content as consumerism spread across India and its global diaspora. I met Amit in several platforms and saw that his value lay in his ability to visualize what others could not see – to think beyond the self imposed boundaries and risk averseness of many of our industry’s individual content creators, producers and distributors and to continuously evangelize the opportunity in media’s convergence between technology and creativity. He was always trying to suggest that the industry navigates a new course by embracing the digital and used every occasion to spread that mantra. Players like Disney-Star, Sony-Viacom, Zee & Reliance have now shown how his prognosis about scale and value is being realized The lag between his prophesies and what we see unfolding in the market today underscores his visionary ability. The greatest good one can do for another is not just to share your rich ideas but to help others curate their own. Through this book Amit will no doubt continue to inspire and provoke thinking about the Indian entertainment industry as he has done in person across so many instances and platforms”

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