Rajjat A Barjatya, MD and CEO of Rajshri Media, lost his fight to cancer on Friday in Mumbai. He is survived by his wife Neha and daughters Kashvee and Vaibhavii.
A few years ago, Barjatya had suffered from leukemia but had fought the disease bravely back then, and recovered. “Around five-six years back, Rajjat was admitted to Breach Candy Hospital, and he fought the disease tenaciously. There was not a hint of self-pity in him throughout,” recalls Paritosh Joshi, CEO, India TV, and media consultant, who knew Barjatya for a decade.
Barjatya was credited with turning around Rajshri Productions’ digital fortunes with the creation of Rajshri.com. The production house’s most recent film, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, grossed over R250 crore worldwide in its opening weekend, and used a digital-first strategy. FE had interviewed Barjatya in December 2015 when he had spoken of how the digital arm produces content in-house across multiple genres and languages every day.
In 2009, Rajshri became the most-viewed video channel on YouTube in India with 10.2 crore views back then. Besides YouTube, Barjayta was also credited with tying up with close to 100 of the world’s leading digital video platforms, with around 20,000 hours of content in Rajshri’s digital library and over 200 minutes of short-form content created in-house for Web and mobile platforms daily.
“Rajshri Productions is one of the pillars of the Hindi film establishment. It doesn’t get more traditional or rooted than Rajshri. But Rajjat— with his efforts on digital and with the creation of Rajshri.com—was extremely forward looking and was ahead of his time,” says Joshi. “His legacy is strong.”
As a person, Barjatya was known to be humble, polite to a fault, and level-headed. “Rajjat and I went to Sydenham College together in Mumbai,” says Vivek Bhargava, founder and MD of search and social media specialist agency iProspect Communicate 2. “He saw the opportunity in digital 10 years before everyone else did. He dedicated his life to his company and his daughters.”
Rajjat Barjatya was a cousin of Sooraj Barjatya, director of famous traditional family dramas like Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!. Rajjat Barjatya was known to be a visionary who spotted and nurtured young talent.
Rajshri Productions was founded by Sooraj and Rajjat’s grandfather Tarachand Barjatya. Its first release was Aarti, followed by Dosti, which received the National Award for the Best Hindi Film of the Year (1964), along with five Filmfare Awards.
The industry is mourning the loss of the digital visionary, with tweets pouring in. Avinash Kaul, president— strategy, products and alliances, Network18 and MD, A+E Networks-TV18, tweeted: “Saddened beyond words to hear of #RajjatBarjatya passing away. Finest human being I have come across and a very dear friend. RIP.”
Ajay Vidyasagar, regional director, YouTube Partnership, APAC, told FE, “Rajjat was one of the nicest,brightest and most curious people I have interacted with from the Indian entertainment industry. He came from a family with such a massive legacy but was always keen to know more and learn more. Humility was such a big part of him. From my days in television to the great partnership he led with us at YouTube, I only can think of Rajjat as one of best from our industry who we all will miss so very much.”