Two days ago, I went to a restaurant for dinner, with my friends. I was craving good Italian food. The chef at the restaurant was happy to see us and took it upon himself to order for us.
However, I was keen to have risotto prepared in a particular way and when I want to eat a certain kind of food, I can get very fussy. I'm known to subject everyone around to my tantrums, if my demands are not met.
The chef misunderstood what I wanted and served me a disaster. I was unhappy. My friends were laughing as well as sympathetic towards me.
It was at that moment that a poor unsuspecting waiter asked me, "Mr Bhatt, are you enjoying your meal?" I scowled and passed an extremely rude comment. Everyone at the table laughed. The waiter was visibly hurt.
I busied myself with my unwanted meal. Suddenly I felt terrible at the way I'd behaved with the waiter. He reminded me of myself, years back.
On verge of tears I had been an assistant to Mukul Anand at the beginning of my career. Mukul was an extreme ly short-tempered person, known to insult his assistants at the proverbial drop of a hat.
I was at the receiving end of many of his insults. It's not a very encouraging feeling to be insulted every day in front of the entire cast and crew, when you want to make a career as a director.
I vividly remember once, shooting on the streets in Juhu. Something went wrong and he took off on me, on his megaphone - the sign of a director's power.
There were more than 300 junior artistes, the entire cast and crew, besides onlookers. His insults were amplified and it felt as if I'd been hit by a freight train. I was close to tears.
I went behind a car, unable to bear the sting. Why was I taking his insults? Why was I bearing all this ridicule? Then it dawned on me. I was a victim of my burning desire to become a director, not of any circumstance.
Desire to learn I wanted to learn from him. It was my need. I understood the situation very clearly. I'd given him the permission to insult me.
No one can insult you without your permission.. when we insult someone, we should remember that they've permitted us to.
Somewhere hidden behind our power and their powerlessness, is the equation of the need. We mistake someone's need for our power.
A college student who bears the ragging of his seniors needs to complete his education, the clerk in the office needs to feed his family, the wife needs to stay with her husband, the budding actor needs to become a star.
The waiter at the restaurant needs his job. Just before leaving the restaurant, I called for him and apologised.
He was stunned. Apologising to him was my need. Otherwise, I would have gone home and slept peacefully, and he would have been exactly like me, years ago, stinging with the insult.