On conceptualising the first City Centre
"At the time of laying foundation stone in February 2001, retail industry was nascent in India. There were hardly any malls and no clear understanding of how the retail scenario would evolve. Kolkata was far away on the retail map. The concept was to create a mixed use development to house shops, offices and residences."
On experiences that led him to think
“Much of what we did in City Centre was derived from my experience of having been an unwilling chaperone to my mother on her numerous visits to New Market. I would notice how she would thrive on bargains, how she would relish diversity … And what I would invariably notice was a familiarity between the shopper and the shopkeeper – not a cosmetic transaction but a personalised relationship.”
On the nascent idea
“At one level we wanted City Centre to be like a mother – caring, compassionate and a perfect hostess. And at another level, like a modern young girl – quick-witted, intelligent, full of fun and with a mind of her own.”
On the City Centre difference
"Our objective was to create an endearing environment, not plush enough to intimidate. From my architectural experience I can state that a lot of skill is required to create such a place: it is easier to create something attractive and glamorous, but to be chic, understated and yet elegant is really difficult. Also, contrary to the prevailing Mall theory, at City Centre, footfalls do not really need to be guided, which is really like saying, 'Let the consumer be guided by instinct'. And that is what really happened."
On responding rightly to the need of the moment
“Life for me has been a series of pleasant and unpleasant accidents. Thankfully, there were more pleasant ones.” - After the success of City Centres in Kolkata, encores at Siliguri, Raipur, Patna and Haldia have already been scheduled.