Zarina Screwvala is an Indian entrepreneur and philanthropist. She is the co-trustee of Swades Foundation, which is an initiative to uplift a million people from poverty in India.
Zarina Screwvala was born as Zarina Mehta in 1961 (age 61 years; as of 2022) in Washington, D.C. She was 8 years old when she moved to India with her family. She did her schooling at J.B. Petit School for Girls, Mumbai. She graduated with B.A. in Economics from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. For a master’s degree, Zarina went to Xavier’s Institute of Communications, where she earned a degree in Marketing and Advertising.
Height (approx.): 5′ 4″
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
Zarina Screwvala belongs to a Parsee family.
Parents & Siblings
Her father, Brigadier Furdoon Siavax Byramji “Duck” Mehta, was the first Indian aviator of the Army Aviation Corps and the first Indian commanding officer of the 9 Parachute Field Regiment. Her mother, Villie Mehta, was a businesswoman and ran her own catering business.
Husband & Children
Zarina Mehta got married to Ronnie Screwvala, who is an astute entrepreneur. Zarina’s husband has a daughter, Trishya Screwvala from his first wife, Manjula Nanavati.
Zarina Screwvala belongs to the Parsi community and follows Zoroastrianism.
Breach Candy, South Mumbai, Maharashtra
Zarina, being the independent woman that she is, started giving English tuitions to children as soon as she completed her studies. She asked for a job from Pearl Padamsee, with whom she used to do theatre in college. She was then offered the job of Production Manager in a play.
Zarina co-founded UTV with her husband Ronnie Screwvala and Deven Khote in 1990. It was the first independent production house in India. It even produced Mashoor Mahal, a quiz show for state TV channel Doordarshan, and Zarina was the assistant director of that show. UTV was then diversified into a leading movie studio, a game studio, and a creative content company. It went public and got listed on stock exchanges in 2005. In 2008, The Walt Disney Company picked up a 15 per cent stake in UTV Global Broadcasting for Rs 118.98 crore which made it the largest foreign investment in India followed by the acquisition of 32.1 per cent in the parent, UTV Software Communications Ltd for Rs. 805.05 crore.
Content Creator, UTV
UTV created different content for different age groups. They produced the country’s first-ever reality show, Saanp-Seedi, and first daily soap, Shanti.
UTV created a channel, Hungama TV, for children. Zarina managed the channel by becoming its ‘Head of Programming’ and later the COO. She produced successful kids’ shows like Hero – Bhakti Hi Shakti Hai and Sanya. The channel also showcased already hit cartoons like Doraemon and Shin Chan. Zarina executed various campaigns like ‘John Aur Kaun’ and ‘Hungama TV Captain’s Hunt’, which made the channel extremely popular among children. In the year 2006, it was sold to the Walt Disney Company for around $30.5 million.
Zarina curated a channel specifically for the teens and the youth, which was an unexplored area. UTV Bindass had shows like Emotional Atyachar, Yeh Hai Aashiqui, Love by Chance, Sun Yaar Chill Maar and Pyar Ka The End, which were aimed at the younger audience. The clear vision and direction made it easier for UTV Bindass to emerge as the No. 1 channel in the youth space.
After putting all her zeal and zest in UTV for 27 years, Zarina decided to shift her focus from there and work full time for her foundation SHARE (Society to Heal, Aid, Restore and Educate) as managing trustee. She bid goodbye to UTV by sending an internal mail to the company employees.
In the year 1983, Zarina Mehta and Ronnie Screwvala initiated the foundation SHARE (Society to Heal Aid Restore Educate), which got transformed into Swades Foundation in 2013. The aim of the foundation is to uplift a million people from poverty by educating them and giving them proper training. The foundation focuses on 4 key areas, namely, Health & Nutrition, Education, Water & Sanitation and Economic Development. Since 2013, Swades Foundation has reached out to 2700 hamlets/villages across Raigad and Nashik districts in Maharashtra. The foundation swears by its 4E strategy of engage, empower, execute, and exit.
- She has a pet dog named Sprite, a golden coloured Labrador.
- Zarina used to climb a Cherry tree in her childhood. She says that the tree was very dear to her, and she used to enjoy climbing it and swinging from it.