Precisely 100 years ago an unabashed dreamer – a crazy genius, Dhundiraj Govind Phalke released a silent movie, “Raja Harishchandra” at the Coronation Cinema, Mumbai. Many great institutions start with a dream. Quite often a shameless – fearless dream and an equally fearless dreamer. Dhundiraj, better known as Dadasaheb was one such dreamer. The story of his travails and troubles have been very beautifully captured in Marathi movie ‘Harishchandrachi Factory‘, released in 2009.
Dadasaheb Phalke had to beat several odds. There was very little that could be called resources. He didn’t have properly trained talented actors. But above everything else, performing arts in general, had very little social approval. Also, whenever a new medium or a new technology emerges, society always resists to accept it. Dadasaheb was intelligent enough to understand these issues. But, he was crazy enough to ignore them and that’s what made him brave enough to go ahead with his project.
Interestingly, Dadasaheb was the first Indian who made an entire feature with an all-Indian crew. He was neither the first maker nor the first exhibitor. A year before the release of Raja Harishchandra, another movie maker Dadasaheb Torne had made a movie called ‘Pundalik’ with the help of British cinematographers though. Dadasaheb Phalke got inspired to make movies when he went to a screening of a silent movie titled, “Life of Christ”.
If movies were already shown in India, what made Dadasaheb so special? Well, precisely what made many of his successors like Raj Kapoor, Satyajit Ray, Bimal Roy, B. R. Chopra, Yash Chopra or even Manmohan Desai, successful and special. Understanding Indian audiences and its sensibilities. When Dadasaheb Phalke saw “Life of Christ”, he immediately imagined a film with Hindu deities and characters from Indian mythology. Because somewhere deep down he knew that it would work. Most of Dadasaheb’s movies were about Hindu deities. In his movies when Lord Krishna or Rama would appear on the screen, people would stand up or bow down in front of the screen. Interestingly, the foreign movies continued to be exhibited in India. But Dadasaheb always thought that despite them being interesting enough, those movies could never strike a bond with Indian audiences. His movies created a national frenzy. When ‘Harishchandrachi Factory’ was released in Chennai (erstwhile Madras) there were traffic jams. His movies, ‘Lanka Dahan‘ and ‘Krishna Janma‘ were in circulation for almost a decade. In fact, he understood the economics of Indian movies very quickly. He realized that there is one class of audience that would never like his work and he never bothered to cater to them. He hardly ever advertised in English newspapers. He always tried to appeal his audiences through vernacular media. In the movie ‘Harishchandrachi Factory’, he is even shown coming up with promotional schemes like free pair of clothes with the movie ticket. All this made the movie a commercial success. Raja Harishchandra’s success allowed Dadasaheb to keep making films and probably that’s what planted firm roots of our Film industry.
1. Indian Film, by Erik Barnouw and S.Krishnaswamy. Columbia University Press, 1963
3. Dadasaheb Phalke – Wikipedia
The History of Photography
SkyArt, Fun Doodles Drawn Into Photographs of the Sky http://laughingsquid.com/skyart-fun-doodles-drawn-into-photographs-of-the-sky/
At some point during the year 2013, Rubén Castro, a striker who plays for the Sevilla based football club Real Betis, is likely to get a call to represent Spain in an international football game. I heard this on a Radio while commuting to work during the week. I wasn’t surprised! Every professional sports team looks for young blood to rejuvenate the winning spirit and for infusion of new skills. However I was indeed surprised when I discovered that Rubén was already 32. An age where a professional footballer starts planning for his retirement. The same age when Maradona’s career started to decline. The same age when Spanish legend Raúl was shown the exit from the national team, Rubén Castro will be rewarded for his hard work and consistency in his performances. Rubén started at the age of 19 in the club of his hometown Las Palmas. He was signed by Deportivo la Coruña at the age of 23. Later in six different seasons he was loaned out to six different clubs before he settled down finally at the age of 30 at Real Betis. Such a career trajectory is enough to demotivate any player. But Rubén not only stayed motivated, he actually flourished.
Another example that came to my attention in a very interesting article in Cricinfo is that of Sitanshu Kotak. Sitanshu Kotak is going to play his first Ranji trophy final (Premier Indian Domestic Cricket Competition) in a week. Sitanshu Kotak is playing his twentieth season. He is 40. Most of his teammates from his junior cricket team today would be either cricket administrators, coaches or would be doing something completely unrelated to Cricket. Sitanshu was a promising batsman. But he never got a chance to play for the country. When he was at his peak, the selectors denied him an opportunity saying “he was over 30″, while he actually was still 28. Many sports professionals hang up their boots once they know that they will not get a chance to play at the highest level. They lose their motivation.
Then what motivates people like Sitanshu Kotak and Rubén Castro? Maybe, the sheer joy of game. However it’s not just fun. There’s something more than that. Teresa Amabile, Harvard Professor in one of her earlier studies had shown that intrinsic motivation is based on intrinsic value that one attaches to work. In colloquial parlance often intrinsic motivation is misunderstood as fun and enjoyment one derives from an activity. Intrinsic value is not just fun though. In the article mentioned above Sitanshu Kotak says one important thing about his motivation, “My only motivation after 2005 was to play, perform and trouble the opponent. And if the [opposition] had senior or international players, I wanted to make them understand: even if he has never played for India, he is a player of our standard.” This tells us a lot about intrinsic motivation. It’s not just fun but it’s about proving one’s worth. Sitanshu says that he will play as long as he feels good. One plays as long as one feels that one can prove himself through the sports. This motivation of doing well. The motivation of proving one’s worth. Motivation of doing the best that one can do. That’s what keeps players like Rubén Castro and Sitanshu Kotak going.
At times, lady luck smiles at them. I read a wonderful piece about Bryce McGain. The player who was an ordinary club cricketer but was rewarded with a call up to the Australian test side. Unfortunately he registered one of the worst debuts ever in the history of Cricket and was discarded after a solitary game. No matter what, he kept on working hard and trying hard. It’s players like them who keep the spirit of any sports alive. Because its sports which keeps their spirits alive…
Amabile, T. (1985). Motivation and creativity: Effects of motivational orientation on creative writers. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48 (2), 393-397 DOI: 10.1037//0022-3522.214.171.1243
Finally Sachin retires from one-day cricket. Young cricket lovers who are still in their early twenties would probably never have watched an Indian team without Sachin. Purely from a statistical perspective, Sachin is indeed the most prolific and the most successful batsman of all time. However, numbers and records neither tell the entire story of Sachin’s influence nor they do justice with his impact over Indian cricket and Indian psyche.
Sachin revolutionized the way India played, the way India thought and the way India approached her cricket. When Sachin arrived on the national scene India was not a strong team. It was 1989. Sunil Gavaskar, the highest run-scorer in test cricket then, had retired only a couple of years ago. Main batsmen in Indian team were Dilip Vengsarkar, Ravi Shastri, Srikkanth etc. Most of them believed in ‘save your wicket and leave anything outside off’ approach. Technique was revered and aggression was ridiculed. Kids wanted to emulate Gavaskar and Vengsarkar. Scoring big and staying on crease was the mantra. Some notable exceptions to the rule were Srikkanth and Kapil Dev. While Srikkanth was generally laughed at, Kapil Dev was criticized and was called irresponsible for his aggression. The only player who stood out was Azharuddin. But Azhar’s super-flexible wrists made his batting look so exotic, nobody dared to emulate him. Apart from being defensive in batting, India was at times psychologically weak as well. Matches against Pakistan were the most glaring examples of problems with Indian mindset. India generally lost to Pakistan even before taking the field. Akram and Imran always looked unplayable. Abdul Qadir looked like taking wicket with every ball he bowled at us. And Miandad! Images of him, running amok on the ground after hitting Chetan Sharma for a six on the last ball left us depressed for ages.
However it all started to change on 16th December, 1989. India was going to play Pakistan at Peshawar. We switched our TV sets on in the morning. The match was cancelled due to bad light. The match was called off but not to disappoint spectators at the ground, a 20-over exhibition game was organized. By the time we switched the TV on again Pakistan was butchering our bowlers. So routine! TV switched off again! And then India played usual subdued game. It didn’t surprise us anymore! And Sachin arrived at the crease. All we remember now is, Sachin marching forward and hitting Qadir and Mushtaq for consecutive sixes. He was hitting a Pakistani bowler in Pakistan. That was the first big blow to the diffident mindset we were trapped in. The first proper victory of India over Pakistan that my generation saw over television was the one achieved in Sharjah in 1991. In that game, Sachin played a brisk 42 in 30 deliveries in final overs to help India set a competitive target. Defeating Pakistan in Sharjah was a tremendous boost to India’s confidence. A few months later at Sydney in the world cup game once again India defeated Pakistan. This time Sachin was man of the match. During those years Sachin not only established himself as the best batsman in the squad but he also became the psychological support for Indian fans. As long as he would be out there, our hopes of a victory would be kept alive. I remember the first game of Benson & Hedges series played at Perth against West Indies in December, 1991. India had been bowled out for 126. In reply Indian seam quartet of Prabhakar, Srinath, Banerjee and Kapil Dev bowled beautifully and brought India to the brink of victory. However all of them had bowled out their overs by 40 overs and West Indies scored 120 for 9. Debutant Anderson Cummins was playing a surprising cameo and had brought West Indies on the brink of victory. India didn’t have any regular bowler left to bowl 41st over. Everybody thought the experienced Ravi Shastri would bowl the over, but no! Sachin was given the ball and he managed to take the last wicket on the last ball of his over with scores tied. Two years later in the semi final of the hero cup, once again Sachin was asked to bowl the last over and here he managed to grab a victory from the jaws of defeat. Sachin was India’s talisman.
Sachin became a run-machine much later. I remember that after he scored two consecutive centuries in Sharjah against Australia, Doordarshan had telecast a program titled, ‘Legend at 25′. Yes! Sachin was a legend by the time he was 25. The only dark spot in his entire career would be his failure as a captain. However, during Sourav Ganguly’s captaincy Sachin got a much needed support and stability. Sachin concentrated much better on his game during Ganguly’s captaincy. In fact his batting average improved a lot during those years.
Sachin had many contemporary batsmen with whom he has been compared. For many bowlers Brian Lara was a more dangerous batsman than Sachin. For many Ricky Ponting had been a better batsman because for most part of his career he also had to burden the responsibility of leading his side. For some Jacques Kallis is a more complete cricketer because he is also a very good bowler. But no player has had such transformational impact on the mindset of an entire nation like Sachin Tendulkar had. It’s not his runs or his centuries that made Sachin so special. He provided India with something India was desperately lacking, Inspiration! That made him God.
Aakash Chopra in his book, ‘Beyond the Blues’ mentions that the way a player approaches his game also tells you a lot about the way the person is. I would like to extend this argument by adding, that by molding the way an individual approaches the game, one can mould his personality as well. Sachin changed the way India approached its game. That changed our mindset, our attitude and our body language. One example is Virender Sehwag. Without Sachin it would have been impossible to get a batsman like Sehwag. Sehwag openly admits that his role-model was Sachin. Had Sachin not changed the way we looked at our game, Sehwag would still be an underrated struggler shuttling in and out of Delhi’s Ranji trophy side.
It has been only two games that India has played since Sachin’s retirement. His absence is already felt. Not just in performance but in the way Indian team has approached the game. Once again, India’s nemesis has been Pakistan!
Recently a video of Nick Clegg, Deputy Primer Minister of UK and a Liberal Democrat Leader, has created some reasonable flutter over internet. It’s very rare that a political leader’s video would do rounds on internet, unless its some sting operation. The content of the video, nevertheless is very interesting. In this video Nick Clegg is apologizing to his voters for having made an electoral promise which later on was turned out to be difficult to keep. “We made a pledge, we did not stick to it, and for that I am sorry.” says the Deputy PM. Prior to elections Nick Clegg’s party had promised that tuition fees won’t be raised post-election. However, the coalition government in the UK lifted the cap after elections. The words he employs are very interesting. He says, “”It was a pledge made with the best of intentions – but we should not have made a promise we were not absolutely sure we could deliver. I shouldn’t have committed to a policy that was so expensive when there was no money around. Not least when the most likely way we would end up in government was in coalition with Labour or the Conservatives who were both committed to put fees up.”
The question however is, “How does it affect the position of a leader who is humble enough to accept his or her mistakes?”.
In another very interesting piece in Forbes, Doug Guthrie and Sudhir Venkatesh highlight humility as a virtue that has a positive impact on creativity. They argue that a humble leader, who is open to accept his/her mistakes is also open to seek and explore new ways for correcting those mistakes. In other words, a humble leader is likely to be a better listener and is likely to be someone who would be open to new ideas. They cite Kathryn Schulz’s book Being Wrong, “when you are open to the idea of being wrong, when you truly believe that another path might be better and are not cowed by it, you will be a more creative and innovative person. You will take more risks; you will explore more paths with unknown outcomes; and you will build a better organization.”
The answer is not very clear. From what I gather, Nick Clegg hasn’t received simply plaudits for his humility act. In fact there are people from among his followers who are rather disillusioned and disappointed. They are disappointed with the fact that his apology is actually for ‘Having made a promise which wasn’t possible to be fulfilled’ and not for simply ‘not fulfilling a promise’. In other words, his apology is more of a philosophical compromise rather than acceptance of failure. In a recent paper in Academy of Management Journal, Owens and Heckman (August, 2012) look at the concept of humility in business as well as religious context. One of their findings show that in the context of business humility and perceived competence are strongly related to each other. If a leader is perceived to be competent, than an act of humility is perceived positively; but if the leader hasn’t yet proved his/her competence, than humility isn’t viewed that favorably.
The two arguments above are not necessarily mutually exclusive. A humble leader who still hasn’t established his credentials for competence may still show humility and be open to new ideas. To anyone interesting in the topic, I strongly recommend the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi, “My Experiments with Truth”. Probably the most honest and objective account of a leader’s philosophy and it’s evolution ever written in the human history.
But then, he was Mahatma Gandhi. He could afford to be humble!!!!!!
Bradley P. Owens, & David R. Heckman (2012). Modeling How to Grow: An inductive examination of humble leader behaviours, contingencies and outcomes. Academy of Management Journal, 55 (4), 787-818 DOI: 10.5465/amj.2010.0441
Eugene O’Neill completed writing this play in 1942. When he had already won the Nobel and three Pulitzers. He was a living legend. He was credited with bringing modernism to American Theatre. He was an institution in himself. His influence over American Drama was so profound that Time in his obituary in 1953 upon his death wrote, “Before O’Neill United States had Theater, after O’Neill United States had Drama”. Despite all this today he is remembered the most for his last play. (And many trivia enthusiasts know him as the unhappy father-in-law of Charlie Chaplin).
The play ‘Long Day’s Journey into Night’ talked about real-life situation in Eugene’s life around 1912. When the play was completed it ended up becoming a mirror image of a lifetime of plight. The play was so painful for him that in his will he prohibited any stage adaptation of the play, not only during his lifetime but for 25 years after his death. However three years after his death his wife Carlotta Monterey had allowed to stage the play.
Such an estranged relationship between a creator and his own creation is not unusual. So often an artists sublimates personal emotions, stories, pains and complains in pieces of art. However once completed, it becomes difficult for the artist to confront that very personal pain again. Hayao Miyazaki, famous animation director from Japan, who probably has made the sweetest animation movie of all time, ‘Tonari no Totoro’ (my neighbor Totoro) had to deal with such a situation. The movie ‘Tonari no Totoro’ is a movie about two young girls, Satsuki and Mei whose mother is in hospital and they meet ‘Totoro’. Miyazaki once said that the same movie would have been too painful for him if he had two boys as protagonists instead of girls because the situation of the girls reflects very much the situation he and his brothers were in as kids.
Art is tough. Creating art is tough. Imagining art is touch. And once your creation is out, confronting your own creation is also tough. O’Neill, Miyazaki and many other artists confront this dilemma frequently. “Should I use my plight as my inspiration? or should I just let it disappear in the amnesia”. For the sake of their obsessive love for their art, they choose to suffer.