Meet Capt. Gopinath, The Man Who Inspired Aakaasam Nee Haddhu Ra

Suriya’s much awaited Aakaasam Nee Haddhu Ra/Soorarai Pottru released on an OTT and is winning hearts everywhere.

If you’ve watched the trailers or the movie, You already might know that this film is based on real life incidents.

Based on the life story of Captain G R Gopinath:

Although this film is NOT a biopic of capt. Gopinath, The film is loosely based on his life events, that were taken from his autobiography, ‘Simply Fly’.

Who is Capt. Gopinath:

Capt. Gopinath is a retired Army captain, who founded India’s first low-cost airlines, Air Deccan.

In one line, The motto of his airlines was,

A flight to almost any major city in India, for a price every middle-class salaried person can afford.

Gopinath’s journey went from riding a bullock cart to owning an airline.

Capt. Gopinath’s life journey:

Born in 1951, Gorur Ramaswamy Iyengar Gopinath was raised in a in a small village named Gorur in Karnataka and is the second of eight children. His father, a school teacher.

Gopinath went on to clear his National Defence Academy exams and graduate from the Indian Military Academy. Gopinath spent eight years in the Indian Army and fought in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.

At the age of 28, he took early retirement from the army. He went on to take a series of entrepreneurial roles such as dairy farmer, sericulture consultant, poultry farmer, hotel owner, Enfield bike dealer, stockbroker, and finally, aviation entrepreneur.

Capt. Gopinath’s aviation career started in 1996:

First, he started a Chartered Helicopter Service under the name – Deccan Aviation. This was aimed at providing Chartered helicopters for VIPs.

After tasting success in this first venture, he decided to try something that benefits the lower-middle class and upper-middle-class. It was a dream because the cost of airfares was so high at the time, one had to be a VIP, or have a company pay for your tickets, to take that mode of transport.

His second venture, Air Deccan was launched in 2003 amid a booming Indian economy with flights from Bangalore and Hubli. To launch this airline, Gopinath invested Rs 5 crore that he gathered from his life savings, friends and family.

In 2007, the company started to face stiff competition from other airlines, incurred heavy losses, and Gopinath was forced to sell to Liquor Baron Vijay Mallya, who merged it with Kingfisher Airlines and rebranded it as Kingfisher Red.

His third venture was an air-cargo service called Deccan 360. But, that was also shut down in 2013 after its revenue stream was not adequate to breakeven.

What is he upto today:

Not only did Air Deccan change the aviation sector in India forever, but it also turned flying into a reality for every middle class Indian. Later, Gopinath went on to contest in the Lok Sabha elections in 2014, which turned out to be a failed attempt.

After being an active and provocative columnist for media houses, In 2017, he went on to write another book named “You Cannot Miss This Flight: Essays on Emerging India” which captures Capt Gopinath’s interests and the depth of his commitment.

The 68-year-old now lives in Bengaluru with his wife and two children.

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