Having everything at one moment and throwing that away just because of one weakness is the story of Dosa King P. Rajagopal. This son of an onion trader from a village in Tamil Nadu with his hard work and vision went on to create trailblazing Indian restaurant chain. However, a weakness for women and arrogance destroyed Rajagopal completely.
From Founder Of Eatery To Murderer
Rajagopal will begin a life sentence in the coming few days. He founded Saravana Bhavan, an eatery that has a presence beyond India from Leicester Square to Lexington Avenue and from Singapore to Sydney and Stockholm. Typically dressed in white with a strip of sandalwood paste on his forehead, Rajagopal first opened his grocer’s shop in Chennai in 1981. With his strong business acumen, he quickly understood what could work in those days and took the brave step of setting up his first eatery. It was the time when Indians rarely would go out to eat.
He struck upon the most winning formula that worked very well and is still a hit -the South Indian vegetarian delights that include deep-fried vadas, idli rice cakes, dosa pancakes with the homemade taste and affordable to the pocket. According to a journalist in Chennai, G.C. Shekhar, “If a lower-middle-class family wanted an outing, a good treat, a place to celebrate something, Saravana Bhavan was the choice. This man sort of democratized restaurants.”
Within a short time, this concept spread across India and even went beyond the boundaries of the subcontinent. As of today, this venture of 71-year-old Rajagopal has around 80 outlets across the world that mostly fulfills the tastebuds of homesick Indians in the Gulf, Europe, Australia, and the USA.
Fateful Decision And Opinionated Outlook Led To Debacle
Rajagopal has ensured that all his employees look up to him by treating them generously and offering them benefits like health insurance. Most of them even call him annachi or elder brother. But somewhere along the line, he started considering himself invincible or perhaps next to God. His perception is quite evident when you see his two pictures -one with his two sons and another with his spiritual guru hanging alongside Hindu Gods.
But it was his blind belief on an astrologer that has led him to a life sentence. In the early 2000s, an astrologer advised him to take a third wife- the woman who was the daughter of one of his employees and on whom Rajagopal always had a soft corner.
A local journalist said, “He was obsessed with her.” However, the young woman was married to someone else and was even not interested in Rajagopal. She rejected all his advances but the “Dosa King” refused to relent.
That is when, Rajagopal started showing his true colors and began threats, beatings, and exorcisms directed at the husband and family of the woman for months together. But when these failed to work in 2001 the husband was murdered on the orders of Rajagopal in the second attempt.
The court found him guilty in 2004 and sent him behind the bars for 10 years. Later on, he was convicted for murder on appeal and his sentence was increased to a life sentence. He has been asked to surrender by July 7.
Shekhar says, “Rajagopal is an example of how you can really come up in the society through hard work and thinking out of the box. What led to his downfall was his weakness for women and his belief that he was so powerful that he could get somebody murdered and get away with it.”