This article is in continuation to the first one Chennai36 published a few days back. Mr. Suresh Kalpathi, an alumnus of IIT Madras, is currently a very successful film producer and we are delighted to bring to you some amazing stories he recollects from his days at IITM. It would be nice to read the first article before you continue…

At this juncture, when asked about how his education in IIT helped him later on, he says “The biggest event that happens in the journey of an IITian is the JEE. This ensures that the students who enter IITs are one of the best in the country. But even if they had joined a third grade engineering college, they would come up to the top. Having such people together is a great starting point and one of the factors that helps to toughen such students here is the relative grading. There are these people who never share notes just to do better than others in exams. After completing their studies, there are people who come to our rooms and talk about movies and distract everyone. So it’s not just about doing well. Sometimes it’s about others not doing well as well. You learn lots of such stuff here which would be useful for you in life. In the context it’s very important to stick on with a cool gang who laugh at everything and keep moving on.”

“At IIT, if you keep your cool and have fun, you will actually learn competition. As everyone has obtained good rank and there is heavy competition within peers, it teaches you lots of lessons. There are lots of people who topped in their schools but fail in college due to such a tough competition. It also teaches you lots of things in life apart from the actual courses and the key is to take it cool”, says Mr.Kalpathi who had secured an AIR 101 in IIT-JEE. “Apart from learning engineering, what we learn at IIT is life“, he tells.

When asked about why IITians get huge packages in jobs which are totally unrelated to their courses, he says “I have seen people who compete like mad men within a company to go one upon another. They would do anything so that other guy doesn’t get an order and he gets promoted. Even as you join a job competition remains tough. In fact it gets tougher and IITians know to handle it very well. That’s why they get huge packages in unrelated jobs. Even though they might not have any knowledge in software, they have got the basic edge to learn. And the companies who hire IITians know that very well.”

When asked about his college life, he says he always topped math. It was not because he spent lot of time in math but because he loved the subject. It’s a well-known fact that many of us in IIT hate engineering drawing and Mr. Kalpathi was no different.  “I used to measure my neighbour’s drawing from my divider and draw. No wonder the best grade I got was ‘C’ ”, he confesses. He took part in events like Treasure hunt and many sports as well including basketball and hockey. His team has also won a silver in Inter-IIT Sports Meet.

Regarding what he has learnt at IIT, he says, “The source of my knowledge was from where I studied. What I learnt at IIT was that I can learn anything. Even if it needs new concepts which I didn’t know earlier, I learnt ways to gain it. Presently I know lots of stuff which I never learnt at IIT, but the origin has always been IIT. If you give me a time frame and any task, I have the confidence to do it. That’s what I learnt at IIT and I’m sure it applies to everyone as well”

Talking about his idea of doing business, he says, “Generally one of the principles I have is if I get into a line of business, I always have clear goals and I don’t just do it because everyone does the same. When we got into building theatres, we had our own business model. Our plan was to get 10-15 theatres and fetch 100 crores within next five years. With that rate, it would be the best in India. Within 10 years, we wanted it to be the best in South East Asia. So our goal was crystal clear though if it may or may not happen. The difference you make to the world and how you can be the best at what you do is really important for any business. The second principle is to be aggressive. Calculate all risks and its downsides. Be aggressive in your venture“.

The Chairman & CEO of Kalpathi investments believes college life is the best time to take risks and try a new start-up for budding entrepreneurs. “My biggest advice to students would be ‘Don’t postpone!’. This is the age where you have the least responsibility and chances are too low that your family depends on you. This would be the perfect time of your life to take enormous amount of risk.  Get a few reliable friends, think of an amazing idea and put your heart and soul into making the idea a reality. If it doesn’t work, it’s not a problem at all. At the end of the day, you would have a team to sit back and relive those memories with. Moreover, you should always have a backup plan to join a job.”

“For a start-up to succeed, good mentorship is required and it does not come cheap. You have to pay for it. Otherwise you won’t get a proper mentor,” he adds.

When asked about his favourite movies which he produced, he says “the movie that I loved the most was ‘Santhosh Subramanium’. It was always fun to watch.” He adds, “one movie I watched so many times was ‘Yudham Sei’. I watched it the maximum number of times and it had an amazing story. But due to poor promo, it didn’t make much money. In terms of production value another favourite movie was ‘Madrasapattinam”.

About his way of relaxing, he says “I read books. I love running. But strangely I never ran at IIT. I ran at Anna University so many times that I can run blindfold. I run thrice a week, exercise twice a day and even swim once a week. I am quite passionate about running!”

Mr. Kalpathi is known to have taken part in many international marathons. “I saw Kalpathi Sir a starting corral ahead of mine during a run. He runs international marathons pretty often. But for me it was the first time so I was a lot more starry eyed” says Preeti Aghalayam, a professor at IITM, who ran Bank of America Chicago Marathon with him.

“Running on a treadmill gave me stamina. Beyond a point, in running, you may want to stop but you won’t die. Even if you take a few more steps, nothing will happen to you. Running for treadmill with no distractions gives you enormous stamina. It would help you to focus on a task for even 10 hours. After sufficient practice, you won’t lose stamina. After 10 years you will be used to this and you will start to enjoy running,” he says.

Finally as a message to the student fraternity, “Enjoy. Enjoy your time at IIT. Don’t take things too seriously. Don’t care about what people say about you. Just keep yourself a fun person!”, concludes our dear alumnus.

We thank Prof. Preeti Aghalayam, another IITM alumna, for her inputs.

Hope you enjoyed this article. Interested in reading more, like us on facebook – we will keep you updated. By the way, still haven’t read the first part of our interview with Mr. Suresh Kalpathi, find it here.