You’d think that experience would teach us better, but it doesn’t matter how many years you spend in the film industry, some things still scare us silly, even though they should not.
1. Growing old
I guess that holds true of everybody in life and not only in films. However, here the age factor is something to be dreaded and denied, much like a family secret that threatens to tumble out of the closet! The sooner we realise that talent has nothing to do with age, the sooner we see that age brings about its own experiences and wisdom, the sooner we get that with age comes a body of work and years of building fan base, then we will not be scared anymore. Youth is great, it’s new, it’s fun - and it’s also a passing phase for everyone. Finally, only true talent lasts, so don’t deny your years, take pride in them and remember, 40 is the new 20! (Now do the math for subsequent years.)
I know all of us at some point have wished that by some quirk of fate, all our competition died and then by default we’d be number one in our fields. Don’t deny it, we’ve all dreamt of this, but really, what would be the fun in that? The fun is in being on top of your game with others also doing great work. Appreciate it, learn from it and up your ante. Sadly, in our industry, we rarely want to reach higher, we would rather pull others lower. I’m very competitive by nature, even in the board games I play with my friends. However, I learn from the good work others are doing and in my mind I want to best that, not run theirs down. Competition is good, it doesn’t make you complacent and it raises the quality of work. Imagine if there was only one kind of phone, car or film. Now stop imagining your competitor is dead.
3. What ‘people’ will say
In the immortal words of Anand Bakshi, “Kuch toh log kahenge, logon ka kam hain kehna.” I always believe that I must do what my heart says is right. Sometimes my head says it, but never do I do something because ‘people’ say it’s right. Who are these ‘people’? What do they know of me? My capabilities? They don’t come to comfort me when I’m low (barring a few). Nor are they happy when I’m high. Why should it matter what they feel about my life? Also, don’t be so self obsessed as to think all ‘people’ do is talk about you! No one has so much time. If I had listened to what ‘people’ had to say, I probably wouldn’t have made Main Hoon Na, got married or had triplets or acted, or in general just lived.
4. Scared of taking a chance of someone
Don’t be! If no one ever took a chance on something new, there would be no Amitabh Bachchan, no Shah Rukh Khan, no AR Rahman, etc. I remember going with Salman (Khan) for Maine Pyar Kiya some 23-odd years ago to help him with his dance test. I ran away from there thinking, “He toh can’t dance, he’s never going to get this film.” But Sooraj (Barjatya) saw his potential even though he had a flop — Biwi Ho Toh Aisi — before him, and the rest is history. Look for the talent, the potential, and not the success ratio. That’s a matter of a Friday. Give someone new a chance — a cameraman, a music director, an actor. It also makes your work looks fresh.
Last, but most important, don’t be scared to fail. Especially in our industry, where people are allergic to failure and ready to write you off before the first show is over. It’s okay to fail. It means you tried, you made something and sometimes it doesn’t work out. Every big, successful person has had failures, be it Steven Spielburg, James Cameron, Raj Kapoor, etc. The list is endless. It’s their ability to handle it with the same dignity and aplomb with which they handle their success that separates them from people who fear failure so much that one flop can destroy them. “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable, but also more useful than a life spent doing nothing!” said George Bernard Shaw. Again, it’s a matter of another Friday. Learn from your mistakes, but don’t give up on your convictions and your principles to please someone else. Also, it’s good to know who your true friends are. Only failing once in a while will let you find that out.
DISCLAIMER: This column is to be taken with a big tongue in your cheek and dollops of humour. It’s with malice towards none and truth towards all.