Dr Lalvani, Founder-Chairman of Vitabiotics, rarely stops still for too long. He’s often travelling as Vitabiotics vitamins and health drinks are now sold in more than 106 countries across the globe. A rapidly growing number of products in the 44-year-old Vitabiotics range are prominently displayed in pharmacies up and down the land.
Dr Lalvani’s father owned pharmacists in Karachi, and now that Kartar’s son Tej is helping to run the company, three generations of pioneering Lalvanis have been pivotally involved in the international pharmaceutical industry.
One of the nice things about Dr Lalvani is that he remembers working in the Indian High Commission for a short while in his early years, alongside my own father. He reminded me 10 days ago that our family relationships go back a long way.
But Dr Lalvani’s work in building his company from scratch after studying pharmaceutical science in London, Germany and India is the real success story.
In April 2013, Vitabiotics became the first British company to receive the Queen's Award for Innovation in Vitamin Research. In the same year Vitabiotics became the UK's Number One vitamin supplement company and Boots named the firm “Overall Supplier of the Year” in all categories.
In 2014 Dr Kartar Lalvani was awarded a Professorship from France's leading centre of dermatological excellence, CERT, University of Franche Comté (part of one of Europe's oldest 900 year old medical institutes at St Jacques, Besançon). The prize was given for Dr Lalvani’s ground- breaking Perfectil skin research.
When the BBC visited his laboratory, he told it that vitamins are needed because people are living longer. He said that he already produces a range for the over 70s but felt that since the population is getting older he may soon be selling vitamins for the over 80s and the over 90s.
I am not the only one finding that Vitabiotics boosts energy levels, for the brand is now the largest vitamin company in Great Britain.
Aside from growing a multimillion pound business, Dr Lalvani spends a great deal of time and money in helping projects and causes that sit close to his heart.
One of these is the film ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’ that has just opened across 40 countries to widespread acclaim.
The film tells the story of Guru Nanak who travelled the world to spread the message of equality, peace and 'Ek Onkar' (there's only One God) that has influenced over 100 million followers worldwide. Nanak’s message gave birth to Sikhism.
The movie is narrated by Nanak’s disciple-companion, Bhai Mardana, a Muslim Fakir. The producer, Harinder Sikka, said that Dr Lalvani went to Mumbai specially to see the film. He immediately decided to endorse it and put his weight and backing into its promotion and marketing.
Eminent Sindhis and Sikhs including Lord Indarjit Singh were present at the London preview, arranged by Dr Lalvani. Lord Singh told us he thought the film was good and accurate and there was nothing he could find wrong with it.
AR Rahman was the score mentor, it was well received at Cannes and has been endorsed by India’s top Gurudwara committee.
Guru Nanak is portrayed by computer graphics, facing away from the camera at all times in a ray of light.
At the preview, Dr Lalvani gave us an exclusive interview. He said of the film,
“This is a very practical message of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. The message is of unity. The interfaith that we find all over the world is basically from the Sikh religion. The Sikh religion is a symbol of interfaith. The Guru Granth Sahib [The revered book containing the holy teachings of the Sikhs] is the foundation of interfaith.
It is how people of different religions and different faiths can sit together. The film is the first of its kind. The message goes far, very far.”
The Vitabiotics founder said that his faith pervaded his company’s psyche, which is all about a “sense of healthy living. Look after yourself, look after your health. Vitabiotics takes care of people. My faith has influenced me in developing my science philosophy.”
He also mentioned that he is influenced by Guru Nanak and Guru Nanak’s philosophy that all races are one, as exemplified in the Sikh holy book.
“37 Saint- authors have written in the Granth Sahib,” he commented.
Dr Lalvani is a passionate advocate.
“I want this film to be a great success. As much as it possibly can be. We like keeping people of all faiths together. It’s the first time that this has happened. I can’t remember any initiative like this film; putting all faiths together. Different people, different religions, we all follow one God. It’s a real road map. I’m very happy it has been such a big success.”
Dr Kartar Lalvani, OBE, finished with a message for Asian Voice readers.
“Love all religions. People are the same. God is one.”
“Vitabiotics takes care of people. My faith has influenced me in developing my science philosophy.” Dr Kartar Lalvani, OBE.