Star Leadership

Imagining the Future

Uday Shankar

President, The Walt Disney Company APAC

Chairman, Star & Disney India

Uday Shankar is the President of The Walt Disney Company for Asia Pacific and the Chairman of Star and Disney India.

Uday leads the charge for Disney’s transformation into a direct-to-consumer company in the most exciting region of the world. He is also focussed on creating deeply local media assets in the region. Along with his leadership of Disney’s media networks and direct-to-consumer businesses, Uday also oversees Disney’s film distribution and content sales operations in APAC, which has emerged as the fastest growing market for this business.

Prior to his current role, Uday was the President of 21st Century Fox for Asia and the Chairman & CEO of Star India. He took over the leadership of Star India in 2007 and since then has transformed Star into one of the largest and most successful media companies in Asia. A believer in the power of local, Uday led the company’s aggressive foray into regional and local language programming, transforming Star into a content behemoth which now broadcasts more than 30,000 hours of content every year. Uday also consolidated Star’s sports broadcasting operations through 21st Century Fox’s acquisition of its joint venture with ESPN. Today, Star Sports is India’s largest sports broadcaster and is fundamentally redefining India’s sports ecosystem. In a notoriously single sport country, Star has launched multiple domestic sports leagues like those in Kabaddi and Football and has pioneered the agenda of creating a thriving multi-sports culture. Under Uday’s leadership, Star has also made strides in disrupting the country’s digital landscape with the launch of Disney+ Hotstar (erstwhile Hotstar), which is India’s largest OTT platform for professionally produced content and has gone global in its footprint. With its strong technology muscle, Disney+ Hotstar has guided the evolution of Star beyond a traditional media institution into a leading consumer technology company. It is now the largest digital video platform outside of US and China. Under Uday’s leadership, Star has transformed into a multi-screen, multi-genre media network and that reaches out to more 700 million viewers every month in more than 100 countries. It broadcasts 70+ TV channels in 8 different languages in India, reaching 9 out of every 10 C&S TV homes.

In addition to his leadership of Star, Uday has played a key role in shaping the media and entertainment sector in India, bringing reforms for the industry and its consumers. He has been at the forefront of landmark initiatives in television broadcasting including self-regulation and digitization of the television distribution ecosystem. Currently, Uday is the Senior Vice President of FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry). He has earlier been the President of the Indian Broadcasting Federation (IBF) and the Chairman of FICCI’s Media and Entertainment Committee.

A trained journalist, Uday also pioneered the development of TV news ecosystem in India. Prior to Star India, he was the CEO and Editor of Star News, which was the first 24-hour news channel in India. He was also the Editor and News Director at TV Today Group, where he spearheaded the launch of Aaj Tak, a leading Hindi news channel, in 2000 and Headlines Today, a leading English news channel, in 2003. Uday holds an M. Phil in Economic History from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi.

K Madhavan, Managing Director, Star & Disney India

As Managing Director of Star and Disney India, K. Madhavan oversees the company’s television business spanning across entertainment, sports and regional channels and the studios business in India. He is responsible for driving the growth of the business, focussing on innovation and creating compelling content for consumers.

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

K Madhavan, Managing Director, Star & Disney India

K Madhavan joined Star India in 2009 as its South Head. Under his leadership, the company has built a thriving regional entertainment portfolio. He has been the driving force behind Asianet’s growth as the undisputed leader in Malayalam with more than 50% of market share. Madhavan’s vision for the regional language network has led the company to set benchmarks in quality programming in South India, which is now being replicated throughout India. The channel is now present in over 100 countries.  In the highly competitive Telugu Language market, Madhavan’s strategy has taken Star MAA to a leadership position in a short span of time.

Prior to his media career, Madhavan was in the banking and corporate finance sector. In 1999, he joined Asianet Communications Ltd. as Director and took charge of the company as the MD and CEO in 2000. He is Director and Vice President of Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF).

He is a post-graduate in Commerce from Calicut University and Certified Associate of Indian Institute of Bankers (CAIIB).

Sanjay Jain, Chief Financial Officer, Direct-to-Consumer & International - APAC, The Walt Disney Company

Sanjay Jain is Chief Financial Officer, Direct-to-Consumer & International - APAC, The Walt Disney Company where he leads financial planning, M&A, tax, treasury, forecasting and investor relations. Sanjay joined Star in 2005 as Deputy CFO and has been part of Star's biggest transformations over the years. He conceptualised and implemented Star's transition of operations from Hong Kong to India.

“We believe in keeping innovation at the center of everything we do, and creating greater shareholder value.”

Sanjay Jain, Chief Financial Officer, Direct-to-Consumer & International - APAC, The Walt Disney Company

Sanjay is drawn to the energy of Star, the vibrant work culture and the constant desire for innovation. His mantra of ‘work with speed and efficiency’ reflects in his contribution to the business acquisitions of Asianet, MAA TV and ESS Sports. In the recent years, he has made significant improvements in day-to-day business by implementing SAP for financial accounting and digitizing the vendor payable process.

Prior to joining Star India, Sanjay was Vice President – Service Delivery at Genpact overseeing a team of 300+ employees delivering high end financial operations. He also spent considerable time with GE Capital Services handling various assignments in controllership, financial planning and analysis, acquisition integration, across continents.

Sanjay holds a CA from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.

“We are witnessing an unprecedented demand for regional content in India and we’re poised to take things to the next level.”

Kevin Vaz, CEO - Regional Entertainment, Star India

Kevin Vaz, CEO - Regional Entertainment, Star India

Kevin Vaz is the CEO - Regional Entertainment, Star India leading all of Star's business interests in the Southern states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Kevin's exceptional journey with Star started way back in 1996 and he has scaled new heights every year since then. He joined as Sales Executive and went on to became the Sales Manager in 2000. By 2009, Kevin was promoted as President – Ad Sales where he built the monetization engine that allowed Star to invest more aggressively in content and yet remain profitable.

In 2011, Kevin took over the premiere Bengali channel, Star Jalsha as General Manager and catapulted Jalsha into breaking its own ratings record with 'Chalo Paltai'. Kevin moved to lead the English channels cluster in 2013 where his role was to grow the English segment, especially in the light of digitization. Under his leadership, Star Movies Select HD was launched. In 2015, he took on the role of leading Hindi entertainment which includes Star Plus, and Star Utsav. Kevin started his career with The Times Of India Response as Senior Officer in 1992.

“We are passionate about our mission of taking sports to the grassroots and inspiring Indians to play every day.”

Gautam Thakar, CEO - Star Sports, Star India

Gautam Thakar, CEO - Star Sports, Star India

Gautam is CEO - Star Sports, Star India which has grown to become the home of sports in India. Gautam is committed to help pave the future for sports broadcasting through an intersection of technology and best in class fan viewing experience that will inspire India to play more.


Gautam brings over 20 years of experience in global leadership roles across Asia, Europe and the US in startups and multinational consumer and internet businesses. In his last role as President & CEO of Living Social in the US, he led the turnaround of the business leading to an acquisition by Groupon. Prior to that Gautam spent a decade at eBay in a variety of executive roles based in California. This included leading the global marketing team for eBay’s international business, managing eBay’s multibillion-dollar cross-border business, transforming a global subsidiary company called as CEO into a large ad tech player. Gautam started his career with Procter & Gamble where he was a regional brand manager for detergents based out of India and the Philippines.

Gautam is a passionate sports fan who doesn’t let his limited athletic prowess get in the way of his conviction in the power of sport to inspire and shape future generations. Gautam has an MBA from Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow and a Bachelor’s in Commerce from Sydenham College, Mumbai.

“We have an entrepreneurial culture that encourages people to push the limits, often surprising them about their hidden potential.”

Amita Maheshwari, Head - Human Resources, Direct-to-Consumer & International - APAC, The Walt Disney Company

Amita Maheshwari, Head - Human Resources, Direct-to-Consumer & International - APAC, The Walt Disney Company

Amita joined Star in 2009. Under her leadership, Star has been able to diversify and upgrade its talent pool across the organization. Amita has successfully managed HR transitions and management changes during big-ticket launches and mergers & acquisitions of Asianet, Star Sports, Disney+ Hotstar, MediaPro, Star CJ Alive, Maa TV, Movies OK, Star Movies Action, Jalsha Movies and Screen. As a reflective and caring leader, one of her most lauded initiatives at Star has been the implementation of the ‘Family Comes First’ policy, which includes the 6+6 maternal leave policy.

Amita is an Electronics & Telecom engineer with a specialization in Human Resources from XLRI. Before Star, she has worked in diverse organizations such as Asian Paints, GE Capital, Genpact and MetLife India Insurance. Amita also provides pro-bono support to Care India, an international NGO.

“As we expand our viewership, employees, and footprint across the globe, we’re equally mindful of building efficiencies and skills in the system to create a world class legal department.”

Deepak Jacob, Chief Regional Counsel, Direct-to-Consumer & International - India, ME & SEA, The Walt Disney Company

Deepak Jacob, Chief Regional Counsel, Direct-to-Consumer & International - India, ME & SEA, The Walt Disney Company

Deepak has been pivotal in creating transformational legal and regulatory strategies which have guided the business through a decade of turbulent regulatory interventions, while ensuring that Star’s portfolio of channels continue to grow both in terms of revenue and market share.

Deepak played a significant role in the digitization of the analog TV industry resulting in unlocking of subscribers and revenues. He was one of the brains behind creating the self-regulatory mechanism for TV content i.e. the The Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) for addressing consumer grievances and also preventing the government from censoring television content.

Deepak has been a part of Star’s growth story and the acquisitions of Asianet, ESPN Star Sports, Maa TV, creation of media pro and the launch of Hotstar. Prior to Star, Deepak served as the Head of Legal for eBay India, where he was responsible for managing risk and driving growth of the e-commerce platform. Previously, Deepak was the Senior Legal Counsel at Reliance Infocomm supporting the Broadband & Corporate Wireless division in building a successful business of bundled telecom services.

Deepak is an alumnus of University of Madras and has spent considerable time as a litigation lawyer in Delhi High Court.

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

Gaurav Banerjee, President & Head - Hindi and English Entertainment, Star India

Gaurav Banerjee, President & Head - Hindi and English Entertainment, Star India

Gaurav is President and Head of Hindi and English entertainment at Star India. In this role, he leads the entertainment portfolio that includes general entertainment, movie channels and Hotstar original content.

Gaurav joined Star India in 2004 as Anchor and Executive Editor of Star News prime time shows. He moved on to lead the content strategy of 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. Within a year of launch, Star Jalsha became the number one Bengali language channel in India.

In October 2009, Gaurav moved on to Hindi entertainment as Head of Content Strategy at Star Plus, and he was responsible for Star’s widely popular shows like 'Diya aur Baati Hum' and 'Sasural Genda Phool'.

Gaurav took on the role of General Manager of Star Plus in 2013 and propelled Star Plus into a strong leadership brand with blockbuster shows like Mahabharata and Yeh Hai Mohabbatein.

Around 2015-2016, as Star’s entertainment became available across screens, Gaurav took charge as the leader of the Content Studio and refreshed the storytelling approach for Star Plus and Star Bharat. Gaurav also leads Star’s English portfolio which includes Star Movies and Star World. He has strengthened the Hotstar library with world class content that appeals to unique tastes of the audiences with Hotstar Specials.

Gaurav is dedicated to nurturing a pool of talented writers with Star Writers Program – one of India’s most immersive courses in television writing.

Gaurav believes that good stories provide context. It comes from his experience of being a journalist with Aaj Tak in 2000. As an anchor, he covered the Afghan war and the General Elections.

Gaurav has a Master’s in Film Making and Video from Mass Communications Research Centre, Jamia Milia Islamia University, Delhi.

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

Gurjeev Singh Kapoor, President - TV Distribution, India and International Star & Disney India

Gurjeev Singh Kapoor, President - TV Distribution, India and International Star & Disney India

Gurjeev oversees distribution for the company. His role involves expanding Star's footprint and accelerating the distribution agenda for India. Gurjeev also has moved the international business from strength to strength - currently, Star is available in over 109 countries. His current portfolio includes distribution, ad sales & syndication for international business. His key territories include the UK, Europe, US, ME, Africa & APAC.

Gurjeev believes in delivering. He believes that the right mix of people, passion and vision can turn things around and deliver success for a business. In his current role, Gurjeev has created efficiency in the market and improved the business yield. He has also opened new markets with the syndication business and increased the business footprint through deeper reach and new subscribers. Gurjeev moved to London to lead the International Business for Star after a stint at MediaPro India (JV between Star & Zee) as the COO - managing India’s biggest distribution portfolio across 68 channels. In his role at MediaPro, Gurjeev worked with industry stakeholders to address the anomalies of the analog market and doubled the revenue in just three years.

He has played an invaluable role in curbing piracy and accelerating the pace of digitization to bring greater transparency in the business. He is an experienced industry veteran, with 22 years in media across destination channels such as ESPN, Star Sports, Discovery & Sony.

Gurjeev is a mechanical engineer from Delhi College of Engineering and holds an MBA from Faculty of Management Studies. He is also an avid sports player.

“The combined power of television and digital platform makes us the destination of choice for any brand.”

Nitin Bawankule, Head - Ad Sales, Star and Disney India

Nitin Bawankule, Head - Ad Sales, Star and Disney India

Nitin leads Ad Sales across both linear broadcast and OTT for Star India network and Disney+ Hotstar respectively.

Nitin has over two decades of experience in global sales, building large businesses, and expanding into new markets. His expertise includes scaling sales organizations, establishing strategic partnerships, and helping build long-lasting relationships with some of the biggest global internet and consumer brands.

Prior to joining Star India in 2019, Nitin worked with Google for over eight years. In his last role, as the Country Director for Google Cloud India, he spearheaded the exponential growth of Cloud adoption in the country. In addition, Nitin has led the Google Ads business as Industry Director. Before joining Google, Nitin worked with Dell as a Director, where he handled multiple sales and business roles. 

Nitin holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) in Marketing and Finance from Indian Institute of Management Bangalore and Bachelor of Engineering, Electronics Engineering, Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology.

“India is known for its unique diversity; with Disney+ Hotstar, we aspire to connect millions through compelling storytelling enabled by seamless technological experiences.”

Sunil Rayan, President and Head, Disney+ Hotstar India

Sunil Rayan, President and Head, Disney+ Hotstar India

Sunil oversees Disney+ Hotstar’s overall business in India. He is responsible to drive continuous growth for Disney+ Hotstar which, with its unrivalled scale, innovation and breadth of content, has become the leading streaming service in India. 


He has over 20 years of experience, with a rare mix of product engineering and commercial expertise. He brings experiences from across the world – having scaled businesses in the US, setting up large teams in South East Asia, and working with super app players in Latin America.

Sunil joins Disney+ Hotstar India from Google (Mountain View, California) where he worked for 8 years, and last served as the GM & Managing Director, Cloud for Games. He oversaw product, engineering and business development to grow the Cloud business in the video games segment. Prior to Google, Sunil worked with McKinsey & Co. for 8 years, where he was instrumental in driving commercial growth for large tech clients and developed deep expertise in sales force productivity and technology-enabled selling. He has also worked with Infosys, iGATE Mastech and IBM.

Sunil was raised in Chennai and completed Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science from Madras University in 1996, after which he moved to the US in 1997.

“Businesses which mean to really disrupt, need to first define and believe in the big disruption, then take the plunge and then find a way to over-deliver the plan.”

Prateek Garg, Head of Corporate Development – Direct-to-Consumer & International, APAC, The Walt Disney Company

Prateek Garg, Head of Corporate Development – Direct-to-Consumer & International, APAC, The Walt Disney Company

Prateek is Head of Corporate Development – Direct-to-Consumer & International, APAC, The Walt Disney Company. In this role, he works on all strategic and transformational initiatives in the region with a focus on creating a world-class, direct-to-consumer digital business in the region.

Prateek joined Star in 2012, and since then has been instrumental in shaping the transformation of Star’s television business into a leading content-led digital enterprise. He oversaw the strategy and execution of the biggest initiatives spanning the depth and breadth of Star India, such as regional channel expansion in vernacular languages, building India’s largest and deeply local sports business, and the launch of India’s most successful digital platform Disney+ Hotstar (erstwhile Hotstar).

Prateek strengthened Star’s entertainment franchise by acquiring leading media networks. He led the sports team to successfully secure the highly sought-after marquee sports rights like IPL, BCCI & ICC, and conceptualised and operationalised domestic sports leagues to give India kabaddi and soccer as its #2 & #3 sport beyond cricket.

His work with Disney+ Hotstar (erstwhile Hotstar) has been focused on finding ‘out of the box’ strategic solutions and creating value for the business. Prateek is also responsible for championing strategic alliances with partners globally. Prateek moved in the Asia Pacific role after the acquisition of 21st Century Fox by The Walt Disney Company.

Before Star India, Prateek worked with HSBC Principal Investment team for five years. Prior to this, he was with Sun Group Private Equity and Ernst & Young Lead Advisory. 

Prateek is a qualified Chartered Accountant and has completed his MBA from Indian School of Business, Hyderabad.

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.

Media with a conscience

The economic liberalisation of 1991 eliminated boundaries and opened opportunities for television. 

Imagine more
Id: 1123