Disney Star Leadership

Imagining the Future

“Impact to me is getting results, and for that one needs to inspire the team and consumers simultaneously.”

K Madhavan, Country Manager & President, Disney Star

K Madhavan, Country Manager & President, Disney Star

As Country Manager & President of Disney Star, K Madhavan drives the strategy and growth of the Company, responsible for the Disney, Star, and Disney+ Hotstar businesses and operations across General Entertainment, Sports, Direct-to-consumer and the Studios business. This includes overseeing channel distribution and advertising sales, as well as a thriving local content production business with nearly 20,000 hours of original content every year across 70+ TV channels in 9 languages reaching around 700 million viewers a month.

Mr. Madhavan joined Star India in 2009 as its South Head. Under his leadership, the company built a thriving regional entertainment portfolio. Previously, he was the driving force behind Asianet’s growth as the undisputed leader in Malayalam with more than 50% market share, serving as MD and CEO from 2000-2008. His vision for the regional language network led the company to set benchmarks in quality programming in South India.

Mr. Madhavan has steered Disney Star to a leadership position in both linear television as well as streaming businesses, offering high quality content to diverse viewers across geographies.

He currently also serves as:

• President of the Indian Broadcasting & Digital Foundation (IBDF) – India's apex organization of television broadcasters and Digital players that promote the interests of the Industry.
• Chairman, National Committee of Media & Entertainment CII (Confederation of Indian Industry)
• Director, BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) India – Ratings body for the broadcasting sector in India.
• Director on the board of the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum.

“Our stories are created with a purpose to drive change, challenge stereotypes and shape a progressive narrative in the country.”

Gaurav Banerjee - Head – Content (Hindi Ent. & Disney+ hotstar) and Business Head – Star Bharat, Hindi & English Movies, Kids & Infotainment & Regional (East)

Gaurav Banerjee - Head – Content (Hindi Ent. & Disney+ hotstar) and Business Head – Star Bharat, Hindi & English Movies, Kids & Infotainment & Regional (East)

Gaurav plays a pivotal role in shaping our diverse entertainment portfolio His responsibilities span across all entertainment curation for Disney+ Hotstar, covering multiple languages and overseeing original series and films. Gaurav also runs all content for Hindi Entertainment TV, which includes six of the top ten shows in the market on Star Plus. In addition to this, he is also responsible for iconic TV brands, including Star Gold. Star Jalsha, Star Bharat and National Geographic Channel. Gaurav serves on the board of directors of the Indian Broadcasting & Digital Federation, which is the country's media leaders' industry forum. He also serves on the core technical committee of BARC India - the body that measures television ratings in India.

Under his leadership at the Hindi Content Studio, a remarkable slate of shows has consistently ranked among the top 10 in the category. These successes include groundbreaking TV series such as Anupama, Ghum Hai Kisi Ke Pyaar Mein, Imlie and many others. Furthermore, his contributions to Disney+ Hotstar include creating award-winning and immensely popular streaming originals like Emmy nominated - Aarya, Special Ops, The Freelancer, and The Night Manager.

 Gaurav joined Star News as a prime-time anchor and senior producer in 2004. He played a significant role in launching the Bengali news channel Star Ananda for the group in 2005. 

Building on his success, Gaurav moved to lead the content strategy for the network's regional entertainment channels in 2008 and expanded the company's reach in two new markets, Bengal and Maharashtra, with Star Jalsha and Star Pravah, respectively. Star Jalsha became India's number-one Bengali language channel within a year of launch. 

Gaurav was appointed as the Head of Content Strategy for Star Plus, the flagship Hindi entertainment channel of the network, in 2009. During his tenure, he played a crucial role in the success of cult shows such as Diya aur Baati Hum and Sasural Genda Phool which catapulted Star Plus back to reclaim leadership in 2010. 

He assumed the role of General Manager for Star Plus in 2013. Under his guidance, the channel soared to new heights and became a dominant force in the industry with blockbuster shows like Mahabharat and Yeh Hai Mohabbatein. 

Gaurav took charge of leading the Content Studio in 2015 and refreshed the storytelling approach for Star Plus and Star Bharat. He has strengthened the Disney+ Hotstar library with world-class content that appeals to the unique tastes of audiences with Hotstar Specials. 

His passion for storytelling stems from his early years as a journalist. As an anchor with Aaj Tak & later Star News, Gaurav covered significant events such as the General Elections and Annual Budget, gaining valuable insights into the power of stories and their ability to provide context. 

Gaurav holds a master's degree in filmmaking and TV production from the Mass Communications Research Centre at Jamia Milia Islamia University, Delhi and has completed his undergraduate studies in history at St. Stephens, Delhi. He also serves on the board of this prestigious educational institution.

“We are determined to continue fuelling the growth and expansion of the organization in order to keep creating, innovating and inspiring.”

Mani Rangarajan – Head Finance & Strategy, Disney Star

Mani Rangarajan – Head Finance & Strategy, Disney Star

Mani Rangarajan joined Disney Star as the Head of Finance & Strategy in January 2022. In this role, he is responsible for all aspects of finance and strategy, including corporate development and M&A, strategic and financial planning, accounting, reporting, information technology, distribution and ad sales operations.

Coming from REA India (the largest full-stack real estate company owned by REA Australia and News Corporation), where he was the Group Chief Operating Officer, he has over 26 years of extensive experience across diverse areas, including P&L management, setting up and managing large-scale operations, risk management, data analytics and corporate finance. In his prior role, Mani led the turnaround of Housing.com and transformed the company into the market-leading online real-estate classifieds platform. His experience spans across 30 countries in financial services and the internet, with leadership roles in companies such as Citigroup and Yahoo!. Mani was part of the Silicon Valley start-up community for more than a decade and was on the management team and advisory board of start-ups with responsibilities across revenue, business development, strategy, operations, and finance, including fundraising and M&A. 

Mani has a PGDM from IIM Calcutta and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he was an Arjay Miller Scholar. He is also a qualified cost and management accountant.

“Our users are central to everything we do. Our sole focus is delighting them and earning their love by offering world-class content that reflects the diversity inherent in India and captivating live sports powered by incredible technology and a world-class product experience.”

Sajith Sivanandan, Head - Disney+ Hotstar, India

Sajith Sivanandan, Head - Disney+ Hotstar, India

As the head of Disney+ Hotstar, he drives India's overall strategy, growth, revenue and product operations. He is also responsible for developing the streaming services' strategic business goals and outlining a sustained and exponential development roadmap. Collaborating closely with the Disney+ team across the United States, APAC and EMEA regions, he supports the continued expansion of Disney+ Hotstar, making it India's most extensive streaming service.

He began his career at Star T.V., followed by successful stints at The Gallup Organization and Affle, based in Singapore. He then went on to join Google, where he strongly contributed to growing Google's presence by building its Malaysian operations from the ground up. He eventually ran and managed their operations across Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and emerging countries. After a 20-year stint in Southeast Asia, he returned home to India and was instrumental in expanding the Google Pay business before joining Disney+ Hotstar in 2022.

An athlete at heart, he represented Singapore in cricket as well. He holds a B.A. (Hons) in History from Hindu College, Delhi University, an MBA from Fore School of Management, New Delhi and another MBA (with distinction) from the Asian Institute of Management, Manila, Philippines.

“My mission at Star is to take its storytelling to every home in the world.”

Gurjeev Singh Kapoor, Head - Distribution and International, Disney Star

Gurjeev Singh Kapoor, Head - Distribution and International, Disney Star

Gurjeev Singh Kapoor heads TV Distribution for Disney Star in India and International markets.  He is responsible for expanding the network’s footprint in more than 109 countries, accelerating the distribution agenda for India and International markets, including the UK, Europe, US, ME, Africa & the APAC region.

Gurjeev has spearheaded the transformation of the India distribution business under a pioneering channel retail pricing regime and strengthened the network’s presence across TV homes in the country. Segmented channel bundles were rolled out under his guidance to enable consumer choice with affordable pricing and attractive packaging options. He has played a significant role in making Sports more accessible to the Indian audiences by ensuring mass adoption of the Star Sports portfolio across semi-urban and rural segments, as well as regional languages. He also fronted the efforts for the regional portfolio to gain a strong foothold with a strategic reach advantage across southern and other regional markets. 

A cable and broadcasting industry veteran with more than 25 years in the trade fraternity, Gurjeev is credited with innovations and best practices. He has played an instrumental role in digitization; collaborating with broadcasters, DPO partners, regulatory authorities, and other industry stakeholders, to join forces and build a digital highway that has been crucial in curbing piracy and bringing greater transparency in the business.

Prior to his current role, Gurjeev headed the International Business for Star out of London. He began his career with ESPN Star Sports for the South Asian countries, thereafter, he moved on to play crucial roles at Set Discovery(Business Head), Star Den Media Services(CEO), Media Pro(COO), a joint venture between Star DEN Media Services and Zee Turner.

Gurjeev holds a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from Delhi College of Engineering (DCE), and a Master's degree in Business Management from the Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), Delhi University.

“The focus is to make our universal stories relevant for fans in India and take our local stories to global audiences.”

Bikram Duggal, Head - Studios, Disney Star

Bikram Duggal, Head - Studios, Disney Star

Bikram Duggal is responsible for driving the Studios business, which encompasses all global releases from the iconic brands Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Studios, and Searchlight Pictures, along with local productions through Fox Star Studios.

In this role, he is responsible for the marketing and distribution of the global movie releases in the country and he also leads the charge for the local productions on the creative, marketing, and distribution strategies. Under his leadership, with a sharp focus on consumer, creativity, and localization, the Studio business has grown exponentially. Bikram has been instrumental in the local success of blockbusters like Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame (the No.1 movie across India in 2019), Avengers: Infinity War, Thor Ragnarok, and Black Panther, and Disney titles including The Lion King, Frozen 2, which set new benchmarks in the film industry. He is now looking forward to creating similar successes through local productions, and building them into big movie franchises. 

In his previous role, Bikram was leading marketing and distribution for the Studios business. Before that he was spearheading the corporate strategy and business development functions for Disney India. Bikram has also led the marketing and digital efforts for the Media Networks business, and supported creative functions in building Disney’s linear TV business in India.

Bikram has more than two decades of extensive experience in the media industry. Before joining Disney India, Bikram worked with global brands across multiple categories in companies like JWT, Lowe, HUL, and Turner. He also founded his venture in the premium tourism segment in an entrepreneurial stint shortly before joining Disney.

He has a post-graduate diploma in advertising and communications management from NMIMS, Mumbai.

“We believe in telling compelling stories that make you believe that sports is worth investing your time and attention in - a worthwhile pastime, a viable career option, and a source of inspiration – as a fan, as a viewer, and as a participant. We believe sports in India is on the move and our stories fuel this movement”

Sanjog Gupta, Head - Sports, Disney Star

Sanjog Gupta, Head - Sports, Disney Star

Sanjog Gupta leads the Sports business for Disney Star/Disney Star India which includes a portfolio of 17 channels. In this role, he is responsible for the business, product (programming & production), marketing, and strategy for the Sports network.

Sanjog has been pivotal in driving the Sports broadcasting space in India. Prior to his current role, he was the content head for sports where he shaped and delivered marquee national and international broadcasts watched in over 200 countries ranging from IPL to ICC Cricket World Cup. Sanjog also played a significant role in driving growth for home-grown Indian sports properties such as Pro Kabaddi League and Indian Super League. He pioneered the regionalization of sports broadcasts by delivering live feeds in seven languages and launching regional sports networks in Hindi-speaking markets, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka & Tamil Nadu.  He has championed grassroots development in sports by launching properties such as KBD Juniors and partnering with the Sports & Youth Affairs Ministry to launch Khelo India, which seeks to drive youth participation in Sports. The delivery of interactive consumer experiences and deployment of live AR/VR on broadcast – both world firsts – along with the use of state-of-the-art production technology have been crucial milestones in his vision of putting Star Sports at the forefront of the global broadcasting space.

Having been with Star India for 10 years, Sanjog also led content development for Life OK – Star India’s GEC channel for two years, prior to his role in Sports. He has been in the broadcast industry for almost two decades and has donned content leadership roles across English & Hindi News, Hindi General Entertainment, and Sports.

He is also the Chairperson of the Sports & Youth Affairs Committee at FICCI. In this capacity, he has been influential in bringing the focus of corporate India to sports development and holistically driving a strong multi-sport ecosystem in the country.

Sanjog is a Graduate in Economics (Honours) from Shri Ram College of Commerce, University of Delhi.

“A relentless pursuit of excellence and quality is what drives us. This underpins our aspiration to build a team that is able to navigate an ever changing legal and regulatory landscape and forge opportunities through it.”

Mihir Rale, Chief Regional Counsel, Disney Star

Mihir Rale, Chief Regional Counsel, Disney Star

Mihir Rale oversees legal and regulatory affairs for Disney Star/Disney Star India.

Mihir has been practising law for nearly two decades across both contentious and non-contentious issues. Since joining Star India as a Manager in 2009, Mihir has played an instrumental role in the growth of the company. In 2019, he was promoted as the India lead for the company. At Star India, he has set up the Media Pro joint venture, acquire the ESPN stake in the ESPN Star Sports joint venture as well as setting up the joint ventures for the company’s football and Kabaddi initiatives. He has been deeply involved in high-stakes acquisition of sports rights such as IPL, BCCI, and ICC as well as the launch of Disney+ Hotstar in India. 

Mihir has also played a pivotal role in guiding the company and the industry through challenging regulations under an ever evolving regulatory landscape in India.

Mihir began his career with Haresh Jagtiani & Associates as a litigation counsel practising before the Bombay High Court. Prior to joining Star India, Mihir worked at AZB & Partners, where he practised both contentious and non-contentious assignments. 

Mihir holds an LLB and is a Bachelor of Socio-legal Sciences, both from the Indian Law Societies, Law College, University of Pune.

“There’s no greater power than storytelling and no greater joy than shaping imagination to inspire thought and action.”

Minakshi Achan, Head - Brand & Creative Communications, Disney Star

Minakshi Achan, Head - Brand & Creative Communications, Disney Star

Minakshi is Head of Network Brand & Creative Communications at Disney Star India. In this role, she leads brand strategy, consumer insights and creative communications across the network. Minakshi is also shaping the diversity, equity, inclusion and sustainability agenda for the network brand.

Minakshi joined Star in 2016. Her essential role in developing the organization's most impactful campaigns has cemented Disney Star's leadership positions in network and channel brands. Noteworthy achievements include spearheading the IPL campaigns, the ICC World Cup campaigns and PKL campaigns for Sports, the Star Plus refresh with 'Rishta Wahi, Baat Nayi,' the impactful 'Sach Mein' NTO (New Tariff Order) campaign, and 'Words of Pride' - a glossary promoting respectful terms for the LGBTQIA+ community, fostering inclusivity in society. 

She takes immense pride in infusing meaningful agendas with creative flair and firmly believes in the transformative power of collaboration. Minakshi actively cultivates a creative culture and establishes inclusive ecosystems, fostering an environment where teams can deliver their highest potential. 

With nearly three decades of experience spanning Advertising, Fashion, and Media, Minakshi's journey includes an impressive 11-year tenure as Chief Creative Officer at Rediffusion - Young & Rubicam. During this period, she spearheaded creative campaigns for renowned brands, earning international acclaim and numerous awards. 

Minakshi co-founded Salt Brand Solutions, showcasing her entrepreneurial spirit, and later transitioned her creative prowess to the fashion industry as the Chief Creative Officer - brand at House of Anita Dongre (a General Atlantic company). Her influence extended across high street, couture, and sustainable fashion. 

Minakshi holds a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) in Marketing from Indian Institute of Management Bangalore and a Bachelor of Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics from Mount Carmel College, Bangalore.

“We truly believe in creating an environment that provides opportunities for our diverse talent pool to grow and unleash their full potential, while upholding a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion”

Rishi Gaind, Head – Human Resources, Disney Star

Rishi Gaind, Head – Human Resources, Disney Star

Rishi Gaind is the Head of Human Resources at Disney Star. In this role, he oversees the company’s people function and culture of innovation. As the Head of Human Resources at Disney Star, he is responsible for leading the overall strategy for human resources, talent management, leadership development, diversity, equity & inclusion, and employee engagement spanning across TV, Films, and OTT businesses.

In his stint over 20 years with Star, Rishi has played an instrumental role in growing the talent pool to support aggressive business growth over the years. His work on the employer brand has set Disney Star as an aspirational employer. He has redesigned some of the company’s most thoughtful policies around inclusion, diversity, and employee benefits, and his efforts around institutionalizing comprehensive talent development practices have resulted in higher retention for the company.

Rishi has been a part of the core teams to set up a series of new businesses, including Star Sports and Hotstar. He has played a key role in setting up HR practices, strategy, and talent for Hotstar since the early stages of the business, which is now one of the most downloaded streaming apps in the world in the form of Disney+ Hotstar. 

He joined the Star Network in 2002 as an HR business partner for Star News and grew it from scratch to a diverse and agile 600-member team. Rishi believes in the culture of collaboration  and upheld this value even while leading various HR transitions, including integrating the India business of Star with Disney India and during Star’s acquisition of Asianet and MAA TV. 

Rishi began his career with Grindwell Norton, part of the Saint Gobain group, in 1997. He was last working with Computer Associates before joining Star. He holds a Master’s degree from Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, Pune.

“An organization's reputation is its most valuable asset. Ironically, it's an asset owned by others and can, at best, be shaped by the organizations' conduct and behaviour with its various stakeholders”

George Cherian, Head – Corporate Communications and Enterprise Social Responsibility, Disney Star

George Cherian, Head – Corporate Communications and Enterprise Social Responsibility, Disney Star

As the head of Corporate Communications and Enterprise Social Responsibility, George is a purpose-driven leader passionate about positively impacting the world. With a deep understanding of the power of Communication and its ability to inspire change, he has dedicated his career to building and promoting brands that make a difference. 

He brings over 25 years of experience as a financial journalist and a communications professional. He has a deep understanding of communication trends and audience behaviour, which enables him to develop communication strategies that resonate with key stakeholders. Before joining Disney Star, in his last role, George was Director & Head of Group Communications for the Deutsche Bank Group in India. He was also Barclays' Head of Corporate Communications for the Asia Pacific region. George was a part of the founding teams that launched Bloomberg TV India (then UTVi) and ET NOW, prior to which he did a stint at The Economic Times. 

In his current role, he leads a team of communications, PR and ESR professionals who work together to ensure the company's messaging is consistent and effective across all channels.  

George is a financial journalist by training and holds a Commerce degree from Mahatma Gandhi University in Kerala.


“Entertainment is not just about captivating audiences; it's about inspiring them, and as a leader, my mission is to bring that inspiration to life.”

Krishnan Kutty - Head Business and Content for TV and Digital for South India and Maharashtra

Krishnan Kutty - Head Business and Content for TV and Digital for South India and Maharashtra

Krishnan Kutty is at the helm of Disney Star's dynamic South and Marathi regional portfolio, overseeing Star Suvarna, Star Maa, Asianet, Vijay TV, Star Pravah, and Disney+ Hotstar Regional Specials. In this capacity, Krishnan spearheads the strategic direction of these regions and portfolios, playing a pivotal role in driving profitability, engagement, and innovation.

His multifaceted role encompasses diverse responsibilities, including managing the P&L across these five markets, overseeing programming, marketing, and sales efforts, and curating original content for Disney+ Hotstar. Krishnan's vision extends beyond traditional paradigms, focusing on expanding Disney Star's digital footprint and driving subscription and engagement goals in South India for Disney+ Hotstar.

Before joining Star India in 2005, he made significant contributions at Mindshare, NDTV, and Hutch (now Vi). However, he has truly found his home at Star India (now Disney Star), where he has dedicated the past 18 years to various functions. His journey began in the realm of Consumer Insight before transitioning to Distribution, where he played pivotal roles in Distribution Strategy and eventually took charge of the entire function. In the last seven years, he has been heading Disney Star's Tamil Business and taking on additional responsibilities across various markets. 

Krishnan Kutty holds an MBA from the Indian School of Business (Batch of 2004), a PG in Advertising and Communication Management from NMIMS (1999), and a B.Com degree from Mumbai University (1997).

“In the dynamic world of media, we create the bridge between creativity and commerce”

Ajit Varghese - Head – Network Advertising Sales, Disney Star

Ajit Varghese - Head – Network Advertising Sales, Disney Star

Ajit Varghese is the Head of Network Advertising Sales for Disney Star, overseeing advertising revenues for television and digital businesses. With a strong strategic mindset and a unique combination of creative vision and analytical expertise, Varghese develops innovative advertising solutions that connect with audiences and deliver tangible results for advertisers. 

He has an impressive career in the media industry, having held senior executive positions in various global organizations. He consistently delivered outstanding results and demonstrated his ability to excel in dynamic and rapidly changing environments. Before joining Disney Star, Varghese served as the Chief Commercial Officer at ShareChat and Moj, responsible for driving monetization, leading marketing efforts, and securing content partnerships. Previously, he held key leadership roles such as Global President of Wavemaker, overseeing business operations across 50+ markets, and CEO for Asia Pacific at Maxus.

Ajit is an MBA graduate from XIM Bhubaneswar. With over 27 years of experience, Varghese has established himself as a highly accomplished leader, driving growth and revenue while spearheading business transformations across multiple areas.

“I believe we should embrace the future of storytelling with expertise and innovation; I chose to lead with this purpose and passion. Together, let's shape this captivating narrative in the world of entertainment.”

Sumanta Bose, Business Head – Star Plus and Star Utsav, Content Head - Disney+ Hotstar Hindi Specials and Star Jalsha.

Sumanta Bose - Business Head – Star Plus and Star Utsav, Content Head - Disney+ Hotstar Hindi Specials and Star Jalsha

As the Business Head for Star Plus and Star Utsav, Sumanta is responsible for driving the growth and innovation of these channels. He is also responsible for content development for Star Plus, Star Jalsha, and Disney+ Hotstar Hindi Specials, thereby helping strengthen Disney Star's position in Indian entertainment.

With a decade at Disney Star, Sumanta brings invaluable expertise and deep industry knowledge to his role. He is a highly accomplished leader in the Indian entertainment industry, known for his strategic prowess and effective leadership. Before joining Disney Star, Sumanta held key executive positions at companies such as Philips Television and Electrolux Retail Appliances (PE Electronics), TATA Tele Services, HDFC Bank Ltd, and Bharti Airtel, where he spearheaded successful marketing campaigns.

Sumanta holds a Bachelor's degree in Commerce from Calcutta University and a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Management (Marketing) from IISWBM, Kolkata.

Hear our leaders discuss insights, news and opinion

Related Stories

Change starts here

For decades, men dominated Bollywood, and Bollywood dominated entertainment. Women were underrepresented in film, television and society.

Imagine more
Id: 1123