7 Lessons I learnt about Life and Entrepreneurship from Bollywood movies in 2012

Pritam Roy04 Jan 2013

2012 was a landmark year in the history of Bollywood. With several films with out-of-the-box themes releasing and tasting success at the box-office, it comes as no surprise that it offered lessons more than just one. Here are 7 lessons the author took back home post his movie outings.

2012 has been a reasonably good year for Bollywood, which saw a large number of Hindi movies enjoying success at the Box office and quite a few of them achieved the Rs. 100 crore milestone, which became the new benchmark of a film’s success. In this year, there were a few filmmakers who took the path less trodden and wrote a bold new chapter for Bollywood. When I look back at the year gone by, I find quite a few lessons to learn from the movies, which can help us in our life and entrepreneurial journey.

1. The core ingredients of success are eternal

The more things change the more they stay the same - Alphonse Karr

Cocktail and Jab Tak Hai Jaan were two love stories of different kinds. While Cocktail spoke about relationships in modern times, JTHJ spoke about eternal love, romance and longing in true Yash Chopra style. Though the love stories were different in nature, love stories and romance will never go out of fashion in Bollywood and will always find favour among the audience. While new crop of entrepreneurs, businesses and business models may emerge, which didn’t exist a decade earlier or even recently, the core ingredients to building successful businesses still remain the same. Passion, Ambition, Hard work, Ethics and Perseverance are still as critical for entrepreneurs while building lasting businesses, as they were probably, a century ago. Even in our personal lives, we will do well to stick to the basics to achieve long term, enduring success.

2. Re-launch is a good idea

Karan Johar decided to remake his father’s film Agneepath in 2012, as the original version didn’t achieve commercial success. He believed in the product and gave it another shot. Sridevi decided to re-launch her career in 2012 with English Vinglish. Few thought, that a film with a housewife in the lead role had a chance. Both instances prove that, it’s never too late to reboot your product line or your career. Also, whether it’s a story or an actor, if the quality of the product is good, it’s hard to put it down for long. If you believe in yourself, your product or a business and the initial results didn’t match your expectations, it could be a good idea to give it a fresh lease of life, with a re-launch or reboot or even a pivot. Timing could be an important ingredient of success formula and you may just get it correct with another go at it.

3. Innovative story telling is as important as the story

Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again - Andre Gide

Often the way you narrate a story is as important as the story itself. Vicky Donor and OMG: Oh My God! are two films of 2012 with a message for the society. Vicky Donor was a story of sperm donation, a taboo in Indian society and adoption, while OMG was a story about the sensitive subject of blind faith and idol worship. In both the films, the message was beautifully woven into the narration, that it didn’t seem like preaching or spoonfeeding the audience. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can be part of your Organizational DNA. Some Companies have built strong businesses by integrating what’s good for the community in their business models. The Tatas, Birlas and even multinationals like P&G & HUL have demonstrated how they have woven innovative storytelling to communicate their CSR initiatives, while selling their wares. Also, contrary to a commonly held notion, it’s possible to create for-profit social businesses.

4. A remake can be a successful proposition

Hindi filmmakers have often looked down South for inspiration and 2012 was no different. Son of Sardaar was a remake of Maryada Ramanna (Telugu); Rowdy Rathore was a remake of Vikramarkudu (Telugu) and Bol Bachchan was a remake of Gol Maal (Hindi). In business, especially in Indian startup scene, entrepreneurs have often built businesses by replicating successful business models from the West. Most of the travel websites are modelled on the likes of expedia or Travelocity; Flipkart, the largest e-commerce site considers Amazon as its role model and there are many more similar stories. So, if you’re running short of ideas, a remake can be a viable business model. Who knows, you may end up becoming bigger than the original! In career, it’s sometimes good to follow the career path of more illustrious colleagues or seniors, which may give a good idea about, where your career is headed. Even in life, having a role model is often critical component of success.

5. A little bit of intrigue can whet the appetite

Kahaani and Talaash were two films of 2012, which were built on intrigue and suspense. Both of them managed to whet the appetite of the audience with the right amount of intrigue and suspense built in the plot, as well as promotion plans. If you can arouse the curiosity of potential customers about your product or impending launch event, it often acts as a good strategy to get people to test your product and builds great word of mouth publicity. Apple has almost perfected the art of building appetite among ‘Fanboys’ for its product with well timed leaks and stories before any new product launch. So, if you can create a product or business, which people are interested to know more about, it could be half the battle won in the marketplace. In personal life, a well written resume is also often built on the intrigue factor, which should be exciting enough for potential headhunters or employers to initiate a conversation. Think about it.

6. Don't tamper with a winning formula

Ek Tha Tiger and Dabangg 2 are part of Salman Khan’s success juggernaut in 2012. It seems, no one can truly stop Salman’s dream run at the Box Office and the filmmakers have also realized, it’s better to give the audience, what they want and not try to tweak it or ‘fix it, until it’s broken’. The Coca-Cola Company launched 'New Coke' with a new formula in 1985, intended to replace the original. However, it was a major marketing failure and customers rejected the new product and the Company had to revert to the original formula. More recently, GAP faced a huge backlash on the social media in its attempt to change the logo and had to quickly retrace its steps. Change for the sake of change may not be a good idea and unless you are sure about the fundamental reason and need for change, it’s better to not tamper with a winning formula, whether it’s a business you are running or a product’s formulation or even your career.

7. Unlikely heroes can emerge

Barfi! and Paan Singh Tomar are two movies of 2012, as different as chalk and cheese. However, in both the movies, we find unlikely heroes. Barfi! was the story of a deaf and dumb hero falling in love with an autistic girl, while Paan Singh Tomar was the story of an athlete who turns into a dacoit, after being betrayed by the system. In Barfi! Ranbir Kapoor played a saviour to Priyanka’s character and Paan Singh led a gang in the neglected sections of the society. Often, it’s difficult to conceive of heroes emerging out of ordinary people and difficult situations. However, the truth is, entrepreneurs and leaders can bloom at all places. So, if you think, you have found a customer pain point, which can be successfully addressed, or you think, you’re ready to take on a role bigger than the current one in your job, go ahead and grab the opportunity with both hands. There’s a latent entrepreneur and leader in all of us! We just need to unleash it, when the moment beckons or epiphany strikes!

So, these are a few of the things I learnt from my Bollywood outings in 2012. What about you?

Tags: Barfi!KahaaniTalaashEnglish VinglishSon Of SardaarVicky DonorJab Tak Hai JaanOMG - Oh My GodOpinionFeatureManagement

Pritam Roy is a movie lover. Pritam likes watching all kinds of movies: the good ones, the average ones and bad ones. He likes discovering trivia and especially bloopers in movies. He is an ardent believer in movies as a powerful tool to influence people. Pritam also believes, there are some lessons in life and business that can be learnt from all kinds of movies.

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