I was the guy parents warned you about.” It is tough to take the suit and tie-clad Janak Malkani seriously when he says these words. At 26, Mumbai-born Malkani works as a manager for a renowned global property consultant, whose name he did not wish to be revealed. He draws a six-figure monthly salary, works in a swank office, talks to international clients and is rewarded with generous incentives for every deal he closes.
Malkani also chooses to highlight something most people would want buried and forgotten. He failed in Class 12. “I was down in the dumps, but I didn’t let it get to me,” said Malkani, sitting in his office conference room.
After appearing for his class 12 exams through the National Open School, he moved to commerce. He tried his hand at various jobs till he was introduced to the world of real estate by a grandaunt who had been in the business for years. “I spent time with her and my uncle, who was a realtor in the United States and understood the business,” he recalls. “It was during my interactions with my grandaunt that I heard the word ‘broker’ for the first time.”
He joined the property listing portal indiaproperties.com, run by his uncle, Naresh Malkani. “My responsibility was to tap agencies for property classifieds that could be listed on the site,” said Malkani. “I would also network with brokers and builders to convince them to use our services.”
His first successful deal was the sale of an apartment in Worli’s Madhuli building for Rs 72 lakh in 2002. “Soon, I realised that I loved dealing in the residential part of real estate,” said Malkani. “The joy you experience when you get someone a house is something few jobs can offer.”
Today, Malkani has moved on from being a “broker” to being a “consultant”. But he still remembers his first-ever apartment inspection. “It was a flat in Colaba. I was so excited that I bought new clothes for that day,” he said.
What happened next was an eye-opener for Malkani, who had just entered the 20s. “When I introduced myself to the domestic help who opened the door, he called out to the flat owner, ‘
Memsaab, dalal aaya hai’
(Madam, the middleman is here),” said Malkani. “That day, I decided I would work towards improving this ‘dalal’ image.”
As Mumbai grew into a megapolis and the demand for real estate accelerated, Malkani’s profile improved. The retail boom created more opportunities. It meant more work, more travel and more money. It took four years for his monthly salary to move from Rs 5,000 to Rs 12,000. Today, seven years after he joined the industry, it runs into a handsome six figures.
He has travelled the country in state transport buses. “With livestock,” he added. His job requires him to adapt to diverse circumstances. “I could be sipping cutting chai at the local tapri (a small tea vendor’s stall) one moment and walking into a five-star hotel the next. I am comfortable with both,” he says.
Malkani, who now concentrates on corporate real estate, says he cannot see himself doing anything else. “If you are a go-getter, enthusiastic, with fire in your belly, this is the job for you,” he said.