|Ramesh Babu stands flanked by his Rolls Royce (to his right) and a BMW
Bangalore, Sept. 25: If you want a good haircut, Ramesh Babu can give you one for Rs 65. That is, if he hasnt already driven off in his Rs 3-crore Rolls Royce Ghost.
Babu, after all, is no ordinary barber. He is a billionaire barber who owns a rent-a-car fleet of 60 cars.
He is also the subject of an upcoming film, likely to be released in three languages. Somehow, things have clicked for me, says the 41-year-old.
Thirty-two years ago, everything seemed to be going wrong.
His father had just died, leaving the family his barber shop. His mother leased the shop for Rs 5 a day and took up work as a domestic help to make ends meet.
I remember the day my father passed away, leaving our family and his barbershop, he says, recalling his mothers struggle to bring up three kids on her own.
As he grew older, Babu couldnt decide whether to continue studying or start working.
His mother made the decision for him.
He completed his schooling at St Patricks High School and then finished his high secondary in St Josephs College of Commerce. In 1991, he decided to run his fathers salon.
The salon, named Inner Space, was in a shopping complex by the school where he studied. It soon became a trendy styling outlet for youngsters.
Within three years, Babu had enough spare cash to buy a Maruti Omni people carrier for personal use. Then someone gave him the tip that changed his life.
One of his mothers employers advised him to lease the Omni to Intel, the company she worked with.
It all began from there and, by 2004, I had six cars all engaged in the same business, Babu says.
After he lost the Intel assignment in 2004, Babu floated Ramesh Tours and Travels and scouted for clients.
To tap high-end clients, he invested in a Mercedes E Class luxury sedan that cost him Rs 38 lakh. Three more Mercedes cars and four BMWs were added to the fleet, which is, however, dominated by 48 Toyota Innovas. His clients have included actors Salman Khan, Aamir Khan and Aishwarya Rai.
The Rolls Royce, a recent addition, came with a bank loan for which he is paying Rs 7 lakh every month. When not leased out, Babu drives the white beauty to work.
At Rs 50,000 a day, his Rolls Royce is rarely hired, but Babu is a contented man. I can at least drive this dream car and take my mother and family out on drives, he says.
Babu owes his success to doing what he thought was best. Whatever I did, I did well, thats all I can say, he smiles.
His bank balance and social status have changed for good, but Babu — now married with three children, two girls and a boy — has stuck to working at the salon without fail. Thats my bread and butter, he says about Inner Space.
An early riser, he checks his fleet before reaching the salon at 8 in the morning. Whatever I have achieved, theres nothing like giving a good haircut, he says.
An avid football fan, who counts former India and Mohun Bagan player Babu Mani among his friends, Babu cant hide his disbelief that a film is being made on him. Now someone wants to make a movie on me, he says.
Director Suresh Reddy is likely to cast southern actor Ramesh Arvind, who has an uncanny resemblance to Babu.