Vir Sanghvi is an award-winning Indian print and broadcast journalist – probably known as the best of his generation. In 1978, Vir became the editor of Bombay Magazine and fetched the title of being the youngest editor in the history of Indian journalism. Sanghvi is also a talk show host, author of six books, and a food and wine critic, who actively writes travelogues and food and wine columns for the English dailies. His column titled “Counterpoint” was once an extensively read column in the Hindustan Times, while his “Rude Food” for the Brunch, Sunday magazine of Hindustan Times is another hugely popular column. Vir also writes a weekend column for the financial daily Mint titled ‘Pursuits.’ When Vir was asked about his profession in an interview, he replied,
Just do what you enjoy doing has been my policy. I do not belong to a school of thought that says only political journalism is important and everything else is worthless, I think it’s all journalism, it’s all worthwhile. If people want to call me a food journalist, a lifestyle journalist, it’s fine with me, I don’t give a monkey’s. I’ve always lived my life doing things I enjoyed. I enjoy writing about food, I enjoy doing my political columns as well.”
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Vir Sanghvi was born on Thursday, 5 July 1956 (age 65 years; as of 2021) in London, the United Kingdom, though his nationality is Indian and his zodiac sign is Cancer. Vir attended the Mill Hill School in London and then received the remaining formal education from Mayo College in Ajmer, India. After being brought up in Mumbai, Vir returned to the UK for his higher studies after he earned the prestigious Open Inlaks Scholarship. He took up Politics, Philosophy, and Economics at the Brasenose College, Oxford University in the UK. Vir is fluent in both Gujarati and English languages and can speak colloquial Marathi.
Height (approx.): 5′ 7″
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
Vir Sanghvi hails from a Gujarati Jain family and he is the only child of his parents. His parents moved to Carmichael Road in Bombay (now Mumbai) in the 1940s.
Parents & Siblings
Vir’s father, Ramesh Sanghvi, was a struggling writer and a lawyer in Mumbai, who died when Vir was just 15 years old. According to Vir, he had seen his father infrequently since he was nine years old because he was away in Ajmer studying in a boarding school; however, Sanghvi idolizes and admires his father greatly. Decades later, Sanghvi still remembers his father’s teachers and beliefs and lives by them. He also revealed in one of his blogs that his father was a member of the Communist Party of India and had gone to jail for nine months for his beliefs, as the CPI was outlawed then.
Vir’s mother, Vimoo Sanghvi, worked as an industrial psychologist (now called Human Relations) in a British company in Bombay (now Mumbai). She had moved to Bombay from Ahmedabad – her hometown, when she was in her early 20s. Sanghvi revealed in an interview that in 1951, his mother escaped from her conservative Indian parents to marry Sanghvi’s father in Paris.
Wife & Children
Vir is married to his second wife, Seema Goswami, since 2012, and the couple had a reportedly quiet registration wedding. Seema is his fellow journalist, columnist, and author. Sanghvi was first married to Malavika Sangghvi, who is another fellow journalist, columnist, author, and poet, and the couple has a son, Raaj Sanghvi. Raaj is the CEO of the Culinary Culture, co-founder of Sanguine & Caviar Noir and is a contributor to Business Standard India and Vogue India magazine. The family considers Mallika Narvekar, wife of Raaj, as their daughter.
Vir Sanghvi was in a two-decade-long romantic relationship with Seema Goswami before he married her. The two journalists met in the 1980s when Sanghvi was working with the ABP group and Seema had moved to Delhi for a senior editorial role at the same group. At the group, the Mumbai-brought up Sanghvi took up the role of a mentor for the Kolkata-bred Goswami that sparked their romantic interest in each other.
Vir Sanghvi is a Jain. He was born to agnostic parents in a Gujarati Jain family. According to Vir, his parents never encouraged him to worship any religious texts or idols, but living with his relatives who followed Jainism influenced him considerably, and Vir started getting more interested in Jainism. In one of the columns written by Sanghvi for Hindustan Times, the journalist admitted that he has always been fascinated by the history and beliefs of both Jainism and Hinduism and he has read extensively on the subject. So, while growing up, Vir started embracing his Jain and Hindu identities, and now he practices the Shvetambara sect of Jainism.
Vir started his journalism career in 1978 when he was just 22, as the editor of Bombay magazine. In his memoir, Vir had revealed that in 1978, he was also offered a job by the Times group in Bombay (now Mumbai) at much higher pay than the ABP group’s Bombay magazine; however, he chose ABP and moved from Bombay to Calcutta (now Kolkata). In 1982, the young journalist was appointed the Editorial Director of Business Press, India’s largest publisher of trade magazines. In the next year, he was given the responsibility of revamping the monthly features magazine Imprint, but he eventually became its editor. At Imprint, Sanghvi engaged in heavy political reporting and had his first interview with Zail Singh, the then President of India.
In 1986, the youngest editor of his time, Sanghvi, helped “Sunday” become India’s largest-selling English-language news magazine, after eight years of starting his journalism career. After a decade long stint at Sunday, Vir became the Consulting Editor for The Telegraph (English) and Ananda Bazar Patrika in the Bengali language in 1997. Two years later, he got associated with the Hindustan Times as its editor. Under his editorship, the newspaper became the largest seller in Mumbai and gradually launched new editions in Chandigarh, Ranchi, Bhopal, and Calcutta (now Kolkata). Vir stepped down from that position in 2003 and continued serving as the Editorial Director of HT Media Limited. Since 2007, Sanghvi has been serving the advisory role with HT Media.
The unconventional journalist also hosted several shows on television, while simultaneously working in the print industry. In 1986, Vir first appeared on the television when he anchored the show “Question Time” for Doordarshan and “Round Table” for DD-CNN. After almost a decade, Sanghvi started working with the Star Network, which led him to anchor shows across different channels. Since January 2016, Vir has been a resident commentator on CNN News 18, the revamped CNN IBN news channel. His show, “Virtuosity,” on the channel was quite popular for his interviews with some well-known Indian politicians, Bollywood celebrities, and even the great spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. While working with the NDTV network, Sanghvi anchored shows like Face The Music, One On One on NDTV 24×7, and Custom Made for Vir Sanghvi on NDTV Good Times. He has also worked with the Discovery Travel channel and has hosted the shows, A Matter of Taste and Vir Sanghvi’s Asian Diary. On CNBC, the Tv presenter anchored “Living and Tycoons” and “On The Record.” In 2011-2012, his TV show, “Achiever’s Club,” was aired on Star World. Vir’s other shows include Veer Ke Teer, A Question of Answers, Star Talk, and Cover Story.
The journalist first wore the hat of an author in 2004, when the collection of his articles for the “Rude Food” column in the Sunday magazine was published by Penguin Random House as a book titled “Rude Food.” Next year, the book went on to win an award that was equivalent to the Oscar in the international food world. Vir also became a record-breaking best-seller with his book “Men of Steel,” which is a collection of profiles of India’s leading businessmen. In July 2021, Sanghvi published his memoir titled “A Rude Life,” which gives an insight into his life and experiences that were detailed just enough to not give away his privacy. Talking about his memoir, Vir said,
I had never thought I would write it, but I just got so bored sitting at home during the lockdown, I thought I should do something. This was easy enough: I just had to sit down, think back and put it down on paper. Also, I am conscious that I’m 65 now, a time will come when I may start forgetting.”
Sanghvi revealed in an interview that he landed as a food critic at the Hindustan Times by accident, as the aftermath of the re-launching of the Sunday section. The food critic recalled that the position of a food column writer at the HT was vacant, so he started writing initially under the pseudonym Grand Fromage. His new position coincided with a restaurant boom in India, which encouraged Vir’s interest in the food-writing niche. In 2012, the renowned food critic went on to judge the India-Pakistan food competition Foodistan on NDTV.
Leaving Conventional Journalism Behind
Sanghvi – being in the journalism industry for over three decades, has also remained a member of the National Integration Council and the Broadcast Content Complaint Council (BCCC), along with several other professional, academic, and government bodies. In 2015, Sanghvi decided to leave traditional journalism, and after years of experience as a food and wine critic, Vir launched his online restaurant reservation platform – EazyDiner, which is India’s first and one of the biggest platforms in its niche. In the same year, Sanghvi leveraged the power of the digital boom and started his YouTube channel “GOING VIRAL with Vir Sanghvi,” with ad film-maker Roopak Saluja. On his channel, he talks about trending topics of politics, current events, and food. His channel has a following of more than 1K (as of July 2021).
Vir Sanghvi, the then famous journalist, was accused to be one of the journalists associated with the Radia Tapes controversy, which was one of the biggest scandals of 2008-2009. He was accused of manipulating the article titled ‘Time for some transparency’ in his column “Counterpoint” for the Hindustan Times, after taking “suggestions” from Niira Radia – the former corporate lobbyist and the prime accused in the scandal. The Outlook and Open Magazine carried his leaked telephonic conversation with Radia. After Sanghvi faced severe criticism, the journalist released a detailed statement in his defence, in the Hindustan Times on 27 November 2010, and claimed in his statement that the Radia tapes might be tampered with. Around the same time, Sanghvi suspended his Counterpart column for the Hindustan Times. The journalist then expressed his thoughts through a blog on his own website. In January 2012, the Union government approached the Supreme Court and submitted a report that said that the Radia Tapes making rounds on the media publications were tampered with and the government agencies were not responsible for its leakage. The bench, after reading the report, gave the verdict that the Radia tapes were edited.
In 2010, Sanghvi was interrogated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the INX Media money laundering case. It was alleged that Vir was responsible for arranging a meeting between Karti Chidambaram and INX media owners Indrani and Peter Mukerjea. The journalist; however, denied all the allegations and clarified that he had already filed a complaint with the I&B Ministry regarding the financial irregularities while he was working with INX Media’s sister company INX News till January 2008. Sanghvi further claimed that he wasn’t on talking terms with Peter Mukerjea and had a feud with him.
2016: Mandate: Will of the People
2009: 26/11:The Attack on Mumbai, and Madhavrao Scindia: A life.
2007: Men of Steel – India’s business leaders in a candid conversation with Vir Sanghvi
2006: India Then and Now: Now/Vir Sanghvi
2004: Rude Food: The Collected Food Writings of Vir Sanghvi
Awards, Honours, Achievements
AIMA Media Person Of The Year Award in 2010
Lokmanya Tilak National Journalist Award From The Kesari Newspaper, Pune in 2009
The Friend of Thailand Award from The Thai Prime Minister and The Rajiv Gandhi Award for Journalism in 2008
Best Food Critic award from the Indian Culinary Foundation, The Asian Television Awards in Singapore, and The Cointreau Award for Best Food Literature Book in the world in 2004
Honoured as the Best Current Affairs Presenter at the Asian TV Awards in 1998
Declared the Global Leader of Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum at Davos in 1995
Vir is often called Tikoo by his friends and family.
He is a non-vegetarian (a beef-eating Jain to be precise) and drinks alcohol.
Sanghvi’s father was friends with Indian movie stars like Dilip Kumar and Sunil Dutt, Kings, and Indian Prime Ministers.
Vir considers himself an ‘accidental journalist’ because according to him, he had to write for the India Today publication when he was waiting to get himself enrolled into Oxford University, and was teaching English briefly at Mayo College, one of his two alma maters.