Shobiz Chairman, Rehmatali Tobaccowala, passes away at 83

Chairman Of Shobiz Experiential Communications, Rehmatali Ebrahim Tobaccowala, passed away peacefully on 7 October 2016 at the age of 83. A veteran from the events domain he was considered a torchbearer for his pioneering work over a period of 35 years.


Rehamatali Tobaccowala, fondly known as Rehmatbhai, started off as a technician providing lighting services to public and private events in Bombay. He proceeded to work at D. Karmali & Co., a company that made sets for weddings. During the Chinese aggression and the consequent war, there was a slump in the business and Rehmatali had to find other means of sustaining himself. He went on to set up Shobiz in 1982 as a set-design company.

Rehmatali established a firm base for Shobiz by constructing sets for movies- the most popular form of entertainment at that time. Apart from Bollywood he also worked very closely with erstwhile powerhouses such as Alyque Padamsee and produced theatre sets for 'Jesus Christ Superstar', 'Evita' and 'Kabaret'.

“He was the closest thing to an event manager in those days”, said Sameer Tobaccowala, Rehmatali’s son, recalling his early life in conversation with EE last year. “As a kid I have seen my father rise to prominence in the events space. From organizing weddings of Ambanis, Bachchans, Mahindras, Godrej, Ruias, Singhanias to Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu to managing Filmfare Awards and Femina Miss India, the options began and ended with Rehmatali Tobaccowala”, reminisces Sameer.

He adds, “I would always see my father toiling with laborers and carpenters. He truly worked his way from the ground up in that sense. He ensured I follow the same practice when I joined the company in 1991 as an 18-year old. By 1997 our company had expanded to Delhi and Bangalore and became ‘Shobiz Events’ from Shobiz Stage Management Pvt Ltd.”,

Interestingly India’s first ever product launch for Unilever Rexona was designed and executed by Rehmatali. In fact the father-son duo were instrumental in preparing the launchpad for brands like PAL-Peugeot, HLL, Kellogg's, Coca-Cola, Mercedes Benz, Opel Astra, Fiat Uno and Mahindra Ford.

The growth graph of Shobiz Group has been both interesting and impressive. It started out as a set-design company, moved on to secure it’s monopoly in stage-production, set up Shobiz Events with multiple creative units like Shobiz Design Studio, Shobiz Stages, Shobiz Production Services, Shobiz Exhibits and Shobiz Cares and, most recently, in 2010 branded itself as Shobiz Experiential Communications. The company currently employs over 300 professionals across its various offices in India, Dubai and Singapore.

In 2008, EEMA (Event and Entertainment Management Association) conferred upon Rehmatali Tobaccowala the Lifetime Achievement Award. At the news of his demise, saddened members of the association came forward to comfort the grief stricken Tobaccowala family.

“Rehmatbhai was here before any of us event managers had arrived. A pathfinder and visionary for the industry, he was truly the ‘father of event management’, said Sabbas Joseph, Founder Director Wizcraft and President EEMA.

“He was and will always remain an institution for the industry. May his soul rest in peace”, said Roshan Abbas, Founder, Encompass.

“He was a father to the industry. We have suffered a big loss”, said Siddharth Ganeriwala, Director, Aura Integrated Solutions.

“He was an icon to the industry and a role model to many. May God bless his soul”, said Pramod Gaikwad, Director, Ice Global.

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