It was in 2009 that Mr L Lakshman of the Rane Group asked me to come over to his office. When I called on him he had a surprise for me – he wanted me to write the history of the Rane Group. I was at that time known chiefly for my writing on music and musicians. But it was so exciting a prospect that I said yes immediately. It took me two years to write it chiefly because I was already committed to finishing Four Score and More, the History of the Music Academy, Madras.

As the research progressed, I warmed up to the subject and found the writing of it to be an interesting activity. I particularly loved interviewing the senior employees and also poring over the minute books of the past. During the course of the research I unearthed several long forgotten stories.

I have always believed in sending off each chapter as it gets ready for approval. And I was amazed at the speed with which Mr Lakshman responded. We would meet once a week and he would be ready with the previous week’s chapter – printed out, and with his remarks neatly added. He was frank and forthright in his reminiscences, as were several others, in particular Mr A Hydari who is now no longer with us. I was apprehensive about putting in frank admissions of business downtunrns and difficult times but here again Mr Lakshman was of the view that everything HAD to be documented.

The manuscript was approved in 2010 but the date of release was fixed for December 11, 2011, to coincide with Rane Madras completing 75 years as a listed company. It turned out to be my second corporate biography for while it was awaiting print, another book pipped it to the post – Championing Enterprise, 175 years of the Madras Chamber of Commerce and Industry. That was another hugely enjoyable experience. But to me, the Rane book will always be special for it gave my writing a new direction. At the book release event, I was given a pen and I have treasured it. Rather sentimentally, I have signed all subsequent book contracts only with that pen!

I was delighted to know recently that Rane have put up the book as a free download on their web site. For those who are interested, here is the link: