His stint as a student of film-making, it is said, was only to prove a point that he wasn't taking it easy as the scion of a group bearing his surname started by his grandfather and his brother. But blood soon proved thicker than apparent rebelliousness.
In 1981, Anand Mahindra heeded to the family's calls and joined his father, Harish Mahindra's company, Mahindra Ugine Steel as executive assistant to the finance director.
The young Mahindra's MBA credentials were soon put to test as the company was caught in a price war. The timing couldn't have been worse, he recalls. "Things crashed in the electric steel industry next year. I made a concerted effort to sell the entire inventory. That established my legitimacy," he recalls.
However, while that situation worked like a charm for him, quite a few others did not, most notably his joint ventures, first with Ford Motor in 1995, which lasted all of two and half years, and then with Renault for Logan in 2007, which lasted until 2010. But Mahindra is unapologetic about the failures.
"JVs have a half-life. Indian's don't believe that. The theory of walking into sunset hand in hand is not practical and will not work," he said.
So while Ford was nothing more than an "escort service" as Mahindra quips, with the ultimate aim of garnering technological expertise for his own group, for Logan, it was always designed as a term-plan, he claims. "With Renault we actually negotiated a half-life. It was just a one-product JV," said Mahindra.
Another JV, with Global Vehicles of US, went all the way to the courts when the American company sued M&M for delaying its pick-up truck launch, scheduled in 2008.
Mahindra's acquisitions seem to have fared much better - scam-ridden Satyam Computers, which M&M acquired in 2009, is on its way to be merged with Tech Mahindra, while the Korean buyout, Ssangyong Motor, has reported operational profits of Rs. 2 crore for the quarter ended March 2012, though it still reported a net loss of Rs. 152 crore for the same quarter.
The astute businessman that he is, Mahindra has leveraged his hobby in motion and performing arts to further his personal and company brand equity — through the institution of the META awards for theatre and his joining the board of trustees of the Sundance Institute, founded by Robert Redford. The institute is a major force in “Indie” or independent cinema outside the commercial mainstream.