Bengaluru: L. Srihari Khoday, the vice-chairman and managing director of Khoday India Ltd that owns the iconic rum brands Khodays XXX and Hercules, passed away last night at Mallige Medical Centre on Crescent Road in Bengaluru.
He was 77 years of age and was undergoing prolonged treatment at the private hospital. He was hospitalized for over a month and succumbed to intra-pancreatic tumor with organ dysfunction, according to an executive at the hospital, who requested anonymity. He also had diabetes and was undergoing treatment for that too, the source added.
Industrialist and liquor baron aside, Srihari Khoday was also known to have written poems, dabbled in politics and produced a few Kannada films, including one that is yet to be released.
A Bengaluru businessman recounted a story about his meeting with Srihari Khoday on condition of anonymity to Mint. It was in the 1990s. The businessman had been summoned for a breakfast meeting with Srihari Khoday at the company’s British colonial era bungalow.
Khoday hadn’t arrived for his breakfast meeting yet when the businessman got there. Later when Khoday’s car pulled up at the company’s guest house (the bungalow) located on Bengaluru’s Cubbon Road, men wearing panches (Kannada for dhothi) and singlets prostrated at his feet.
It was “like going back in time to a feudal past,” the Bengaluru businessman recalled. His impression of Khoday was of a yajaman (Kannada for feudal lord) of old. Khoday was standing there with his “steely looking eyes,” surrounded “by all kinds of courtiers.”
The Khoday family’s history suggests that the businessman’s sense of being transported back in time was not too far off the mark. The Khodays are Somavanshiya Kshatriyas, better known as “savjis” who trace their origin to king Sahastrarjun or Kartaviryarjun, who ruled over Mahismati (present-day Maheshwar in Madhya Pradesh).
According to Kabadi Ramachandra, a son-in-law of Srihari Khoday’s brother Padmanabhasa Khoday, the Khodays’ history in Bengaluru began with the arrival of the first member of the clan over a thousand years ago when, he said, Bengaluru had a population of only 700. Since then, the Khodays have been in one or the other of some 200 trades the community was traditionally involved in.
Srihari Khoday was one of the patriarchs of the family that still runs the Khodays India group. Khoday’s production firm is named Yajaman Enterprises after what people call him, Caravan magazine reported in 2012. In that article, the magazine also quoted a chartered accountant, Prabhakar Rao as having high praise for Khoday. Rao tries to attend Khoday every morning, when the yajaman writes a daily poem. “Some of the things he has done in his life… It’s amazing—amazing! Whether he accepts it or not,” said Rao’s quote in the magazine.
The Khodays group was involved in various sectors but is best known as a liquor maker. Its Khodays XXX rum is one of the symbols of Bengaluru’s liquor city image and is known colloquially as Triple X. The company also makes other whiskies, brandies, rums and beer. The family business was created in 1906 by Eshwarsa Khoday, with liquor becoming part of the business only in the 1960s.
In the 110 years since it was founded, the company has diversified from its original business of silk manufacture to running distilleries, owning a call centre and power generation among other things.