The film ‘Surarai Potru’ has won the award for Best Feature Film. Also, Tamil actor Suriya, who played the role of Captain Gopinath, has received the Best Actor Award.
Image Credit source: Social Media
Regarding air travel, the central government has been reiterating from time to time that the government is making efforts to make the people of Hawai Chappal travel in an airplane. But do you know, once a boy driving a bullock cart had the same dream. He not only dreamed, but also turned this dream into reality by starting the country’s cheapest airline service. This is the story of Captain GR Gopinath. After retiring from the army, he fulfilled the dream of cheap air travel for the common people. He took retirement from the army at the age of just 28 and dreamed for the common people. When a film was made on his story, 2 National Awards came in the bag.
‘Surarai Potru’ proved to be a milestone in South Indian cinema. The film has won the award for Best Feature Film. Also, Tamil actor Suriya, who played the role of Captain Gopinath, has received the Best Actor Award. The film was released in 2020. A Hindi remake of this film is also coming, in which Akshay Kumar will play the role of Captain Gopinath. However, to understand the story of the film, we know the story of the real hero of this film and understand what it was like in this film that two National Awards were registered in its account.
He was in the army till the 1971 war and then…
Captain Gopinath i.e. Gorur Ramaswamy Iyengar Gopinath was born in a remote village in Karnataka. His father was a teacher and also used to do agriculture. Gopinath also used to help his father in his work. He also drove a bullock cart. He also studied with all his heart. Took the NDA exam and joined the army. He remained in the army till the Indo-Pak war in the year 1971 and then took retirement from the army at the age of 28.
They wanted to do something new. Get help from your friends. Sometimes he cultivated for silk and sometimes tried his hand in business like hotel-hospitality. Also tried his hand in dairy farming, poultry farming, bike deal, stockbroker etc. But neither the expected success nor the satisfaction was achieved.
How did the idea for the airline service come about?
He has mentioned in his biography about how he saw the dream of airlines. The year was 2000, when Gopanath, along with his family, had reached Phoenix, America on vacation. While drinking tea sitting in the balcony, the plane passed over his head. After some time a plane passed again and then 4-5 planes one after the other passed within just an hour. He was surprised, because in those days the air services in India were not so strong.
In Phoenix, he learned about a local airport, from where a thousand flights operated and about one lakh people used to travel by air. At that time only 420 flights were operated in India every day, while in America 40 thousand. They thought why this can’t happen in India! From there the idea of starting an airline service came to his mind.
Dreaming is not enough, one should also come to sell dreams
Gopinath thought that if 5 percent of the 30 million people who travel by trains and buses in India start traveling by air, then 53 crore consumers will be found in this sector. He calculated that at least 200 million middle class people would travel by air at least twice every year. This thought inspired him to enter the field of aviation.
His friends told him one thing that dreaming is not enough, one should also come to sell dreams. But the first and most difficult task for Gopinath was to arrange money. His wife supported in this. Wife gave savings, friends gave money by breaking FD, while other family members also helped as much as possible.
Such started service and increased dominance
In 1996, he started a chartered helicopter service named Deccan Aviation, but his dream was still incomplete. In August 2003, he founded Air Deccan with six flights with 48 seats and two engines. Initially only 2000 people were traveling by air from Deccan. And then within four years, 25,000 people started traveling by air every day at an affordable cost. In the year 2007, 380 flights of this company were being operated in a day from 67 airports of the country. And the company had 45 aircraft by then.
Air tickets at half the rate by this formula
Gopinath adopted a no-frills approach and offered tickets to its customers at half the rate as compared to other airlines. This also included a uniform economy cabin class and payment for food and drink on the journey. The company charged less fare than ordinary passengers, but earned good revenue through advertising. He started 24 x 7 call center service for the passengers. All this was happening for the first time in India. The public was happy and thrilled too. Now they could book tickets anytime.
such a bad phase
Everything was going well, but by the end of 2007, many companies had entered the aviation field. Those companies also initially adopted Gopinath’s formula and made common people travel cheaply. In such a situation, Air Deccan started getting competition. Before the situation in Air Deccan deteriorated, Gopinath made the deal of Air Deccan with Vijay Mallya’s company Kingfisher. Vijay Mallya gave a new name to Air Deccan – Kingfisher Red.
Gopinath was confident that his dream would continue to get wings, but it could not happen. Vijay Mallya’s company could not cherish the legacy of Gopinath and in 2013 the company was closed. Gopinath had said in an interview then that if Mallya had given time properly, there would have been no one better than him in this sector.
still alive dreams
After the closure of the airlines, Gopinath also tried his hand in politics. He contested the Lok Sabha elections in 2014, but lost. Later he started writing columns for different media houses. In the year 2017, he wrote his second book titled You Miss Not This Flight: Essays on Emerging India. At present, he lives with his family in Bangalore, Karnataka. They say that dreams are still there and the struggle for cheap flight too.
The story of the film Surarai Pottru is based on the autobiography of G Gopinath. In the coming time, this film will also be ready ,.