My dad, in his own words: Manan Luthra

Manan Luthra, university student, interviews his dad Pawan Luthra, CEO of Indian Link Media Group

Reading Time: 5 minutes


‘My dad, in his own words’ is a series paying tribute to our fathers, ahead of Father’s Day. We asked children in various age groups to interview their fathers, showcasing the intergenerational bond between them and celebrating the wonderful and eventful lives they’ve both had. Here Manan Luthra, uni student and Indian Link contributor, sits down with his dad Pawan Luthra, founder and CEO of Indian Link Media Group.


Manan Luthra: What’s your earliest memory?

Pawan Luthra: There’s a funny one which ended in tears for me. Think I was three. I set out to capture the bad-tempered stray cat in my neighbourhood – armed with my grandfather‘s walking stick. Minutes later I found myself lying in the dust, bruised and battered and hysterical, as I tried to beat a hasty retreat. The cat had come face-to-face and gnarled viciously at me.

Manan Luthra: Pawan, the Cat-Slayer.

Pawan Luthra: Yup. The family remembers the episode to this day. The other memory from my childhood, is having the radio on in the house 24/7. Perhaps this was the seed that started the idea of a 24/7 Indian Link Radio.

Manan Luthra
Grin and ‘beer’ it (Source: Supplied)

Manan Luthra: Tell me about a favourite movie/song/book from your early years.

Pawan Luthra: My first ever movie, hugely memorable, was Kabhi Kabhie. I was completely taken in by the multi-starrer story covering all known emotions, playing out in front of me. I was hooked. I walked around for days afterwards singing its songs and replacing Rishi Kapoor in the romance with Neetu Singh.

Another time was when I went with my cousins (all reasonably older than me) to see The Sound of Music. We got the only seats left, right up the front row. 50 paise each.

Manan Luthra: Tell me about an important life lesson you’ve learned.

Pawan Luthra: Aah, this is something which has stayed with me all my life. In my senior year at school, through no fault of my own, I was removed from a position on the Student Council. I was shocked to find that overnight, friends began to distance themselves. The penny dropped that they were friends due to my position, not for who I was as a person.

I’ve learned not to allow a position of power or influence to change who you are as a person, or treat someone differently because they are or they are not in a position of power.

Manan Luthra: You’re a people’s person. I’ve seen you interacting with Prime Ministers and CEOs, tradies and baristas, and there’s ease and warmth in every case. How do you make friends so easily?

Pawan Luthra: Most people want to connect – it is up to you to find that connection point, be it family values, personal aspirations, professional goals, significant others, even faith. I think a genuine desire to see the good in everyone, does wonders.

Cheffin’ it up (Source: Supplied)

Manan Luthra: Tell me three little-known facts about yourself.

Pawan: I love cooking. Weekends you‘ll see me in the kitchen, with a glass or three of good red wine, Shah Rukh Khan/Kishore Kumar songs in the background, cooking up something Italian or traditional Indian or Asian. It relaxes me.

I love Haigh’s Chocolates – can’t walk past the city outlet without going in.

I love Rugby League. The Rabbitohs live all over my office walls.

Manan Luthra: What was your craziest job?

Pawan: This has got to be Asian Games 1984 in Delhi. I got a job as a ‘cultural guide’, coordinating the cultural programs on the sidelines. There was no job brief whatsoever – other than to make sure the performing stars got to their venues on time and all went smoothly.  I had the time of my life. I took great pride in the fact that India was hosting the games. I also got to see and hear some of India’s legendary artistes up close.

Manan Luthra: What would your autobiography be called, and why?

A Series of Fortunate Accidents. To date, nothing in my life has been planned – I’m not recommending this – but fortunately everything has worked out well. I was not meant to be on Doordarshan TV in India but got a break. I was picked by my student organisation to intern at Sierre Leone, but it was changed to Australia. I was meant to be here for eight months; it’s been 38 years. I just turned up and the dice rolled my way.

Manan Luthra
Manan, Pawan, Rajni and Devna (Source: Supplied)

Manan: Who’s your favourite child?

Pawan: Devna, I’d say… is my favourite daughter, and Manan is my favourite son.

Manan: Ha ha, very funny. Next question, I’m about to finish university and get on to full-time adulting.  How would you advise me about: a. Career b. Relationships and c. Personal life? (No promises I’ll follow your advice, but still).

Pawan: Career: A cliched answer, but do what you love, love what you do. I’ve followed this mantra all my life. Try and find a good mentor. Learn from others, but don’t let anyone walk over you. Stand up to your professional beliefs.

Relationships: Friendship is a key ingredient. Your partner should be your best friend, throughout your life.

Personal life: I strongly believe in doing whatever you’re doing with total honesty and integrity. Work hard but seek balance. Don’t let the world dictate your life – have core beliefs, and the strength to act on what you believe in.

In whatever you do, try to move the dial; give something back to society, your community; leave a legacy.

Manan: What is your favourite Father’s Day memory?

Pawan: The presents have been great. There’s a portrait of me on my dresser which I love, an ash tray (even though I’m not a smoker), a Russian fur cap with ear flaps, Lacoste sunglasses once. But the best memory is the giggles and chuckles outside my door as Father’s Day breakfast was being brought in. There was burnt toast and cold tea but plenty of love in the room.

Manan: We’ll do better this time round. How were your nappy changing skills?

Pawan: Excellent. I had it down pat. ‘Rajni, I think there’s a smell here…’  It never failed.

Manan: A special date with mum?

Pawan: I promised her a seaside dinner. We drove to Balmoral Beach, I spread the rug out for her, and had her wait while I got McDonald’s takeaway.  She didn’t speak to me for a week afterwards.

Manan: Which actor would play you in your biopic?

Pawan: Tom Cruise. No, George Clooney. Heck, just tell them to make two movies.

READ ALSO: My dad, in his own words: Vivek Bhatia

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