Anjali Rao: He's dubbed the "King of Good Times." The billionaire tycoon casts a long shadow in India with high-profile launches and lavish parties. Vijay Mallya inherited an empire of different businesses at the tender age of 27, streamlining the operation and founding the Kingfisher brand. Today, his holding company United Breweries is worth $5 billion.
Not long after Lewis Hamilton enjoyed his second grand prix victory, at Indianapolis, it was announced that Formula One was ending its relationship with the circuit. There will be no United States grand prix in the 2008 season.
Turbulence lies ahead at Air Deccan, India's largest discount airline. Vijay Mallya, the egocentric and charismatic owner of Kingfisher Airlines, who has paid $137 million for a 26 percent stake, thinks he will be in the pilot's seat. But so does G.R. Gopinath, Deccan's founder, who introduced air travel to tens of thousands of new passengers.
India's king of beer hunkers over the bar in the leather-trimmed lounge of his Boeing 727. Vijay Mallya's tie is askew, his eyes are rimmed with red, but he declares the past 23 hours "a great, great day." The 49-year-old liquor baron has been up since 3 A.M., flying from Mumbai to Calcutta to talk with investors and employees of Shaw Wallace, a rival acquired in March by his United Breweries Group. The $370 million purchase, ending a 20-year takeover struggle, has made UB second only to Diageo as the world's largest liquor company by volume. Earlier in the day Mallya had toured Shaw Wallace's headquarters like a conquering general, addressing shareholders and holding forth in a whirl of interviews with the local press. Now, jetting back to Mumbai at 2 A.M., it's Mallya time. The secret of his success, he muses, swirling a goblet of red wine, is that he understands the aspirations of the modern Indian consumer. "The old 'Be Indian, buy Indian' nonsense doesn't cut it these days," he scoffs. "Indians are o