It would have been his 60th birthday tomorrow. And he was overseeing preparations for the anniversary celebrations of his firm, which completed 125 years on November 29, 2008. Instead, his remains were cremated at Mumbai’s Chandanwadi electric crematorium that evening.
Anand Bhatt, was a leading solicitor and senior partner of Wadia Ghandy & Co. I had first heard about him from my classmates in law school who apprenticed with him. When I met him years later when I took up practice, he well fit the imagery that I had of him. Bhatt was among those rounded up by the terrorists from a popular restaurant in the Oberoi Hotel. News reports quote an eye witness as saying he was reasoning with his killers (veteran negotiator that he was) when his life was snuffed out. The eye witness had slumped to the ground with other dead bodies lying over him, pretending to be dead, and therefore, living to tell the tale.
Professionally, I have been in situations where I would have loved to see him lose, but always had the highest professional regard for him. Less than a week before he died, I was keen to have him as the escrow agent for a sensitive acquisition transaction that I was involved in. Even his professional detractors would say Bhatt should always be trusted to do the right thing and hence he was an able candidate for any fiduciary role.
A senior resource in his firm, who is also a budding artist, and had put in her papers, recently called on him to bid farewell. He sat her down grinning and gave her a sheet of paper and a pencil and told her she should sketch a portrait. He said she would be relieved only if the sketch turned out well. The gregarious Bhatt stood tall – what he lacked in height he more than made up in professional stature. Bhatt’s is an untimely but enviable death – he did so with his shoes on. Having been taken hostage while transacting business over dinner, we now learn that in his last moments he did his bit to negotiate a bargain for the hostages.