The Lagaan Effect

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The Lagaan Effect

  1. 1. ::: The Lagaan Effect Does Bollywood have a Management Lesson to offer? Background Why would an HR Consulting Company research a Hindi movie? India has over the centuries used various forms of Art including literature, music and dance to spread messages for everyday living. The Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Panchatantra, the Hitopadesa are a few standing examples. For a country so used to Art, it is no surprise that films and more recently Television soaps have become an integral part of our lives and have shaped public opinion and views on many subjects. Their power to influence and impact is beyond doubt. We are however unfamiliar with the idea of an Indian movie seeming to teach us lessons in Management! Even if many of them did, people have seldom looked at it that way. Trainers and Management Consultants around the world have however been using movies extensively for Management & Leadership lessons. “12 Angry Men”, “12 O Clock High” and “Tora Tora Tora” are regularly used by Management Trainers to teach various aspects of Leadership and Human Behaviour. “A VCR, a rented video, a tub of pop corn and a copy of Movies for Leaders: Management Lessons - four All-Time Great Films … management training doesn't get any better than this ….” Says this web site called www.moviesforbusiness.com The authors of this book and web site Shaun O'L. Higgins & Colleen Striegel have used four films - Hoosiers, The Wizard of Oz, The Bridge on the River Kwai and Moby Dick to teach a dozen management lessons. The idea is simple: • Movies are easily accessible, unlike training films • They combine entertainment with learning • Their linkage with everyday living makes the bridging easy • Their quality of production makes them significantly absorbing There is another important point. The world of business which is ravaged by unprecedented turbulence and uncertainty seems bereft of fresh ideas and perspectives. There is too much theorizing about the same old things. No wonder
  2. 2. football coaches, musicians, actresses, Swamijis turned motivational speakers turned management gurus and other celebrities are in great demand in the Lecture circuit. The world is full of them and yet is ready for more. It is against this backdrop that we at totus consulting got interested when we saw and heard a lot of people spontaneously speak of the lessons that the movie “Lagaan” seemed to deliver. Not only did we see Business Heads and Professionals watch the movie and pick up these lessons but also choose to watch it along with their colleagues and in groups. In fact we have heard of at least two or three companies book tickets for the entire Organisation en mass to watch the film. I am told that a Professor at IIM - Kozhikode has already written a case study using the film for use in the academic program. For the first time in recent times are we seeing a movie interest people in Organisations. We therefore wanted to understand this further. Having seen the movie ourselves, we were convinced that there were many possible lessons in Management and everyday living that people could learn from. We wanted to use research to quickly test our hypothesis. TOP How & where was the Research done? Research Design We conducted the Survey using a partly structured and mostly open-ended questionnaire among viewers. The Fieldwork was conducted by a professional field agency through personal interviews. Our Qualitative Research Consultant, Geetha Pisupati handled the Instrument design, analysis and interpretation. Sample We chose Bangalore as the city to do the survey, given its cosmopolitan nature. A total of fifty interviews were conducted among respondents in the 18 - 45 age group.
  3. 3. Major Findings What people liked about the movie The movie was universally liked by all for the following four reasons: 1. The Theme: true-life, historical, simple and empathetic, use of cricket • “villagers waiting for the rain” • “the suffering in the hands of the British” • “exciting like a one-day international” 2. The treatment: unusual and gripping, good dialogues interspersed with comedy, good characterization, good direction and photography, perceived to be perfect in every way • “Aamir has set a new trend competing with Hollywood” • “very unlike the love stories, running around trees” 3. Attention to details: attractive and believable location, good music and choreography, superb action and picturization, realistic and painstakingly chosen costumes 4. The attention arresting elements • Bhuvan's character - risk taking, responsible, confident, encouraging, supportive, 'never say die' attitude • Elizabeth's role in supporting the villagers • Patriotism, Oppression, fight for injustice • The team play TOP Salient Messages that the movie seemed to have delivered The respondents were able to enlist a whole host of messages that they seemed to have picked up from the movie (many of them accompanied with a lot of feelings and emotions). We have reproduced the quotes verbatim. Relentless spirit to fight “nothing is impossible for nobody” “don't give up till the end” “convincing people is very tough, the way Aamir did it was really very good” “whatever you dream you can achieve”
  4. 4. “strive hard for upholding your nation” “fear not; only believe” “never underestimate anyone” “don't be afraid of anybody... live like a lion” Patriotism “something that is forgotten these days” “since we are Indians British harassment affects us” “feel sorry to know about the struggles... to pay taxes” “feel good for your nation” Accepting the challenge, being open-minded “reminds us of our moral strength” “signals hope as against despair” “instills confidence and inspires” “to not miss opportunities, one has to take risks” “looking at their peaceful struggle and rebellion against injustice” “to see someone who can do something revolutionary even if it meant taking big risks” “that unity in diversity, patriotism and equality are relevant values” “if all are against us, God is there for us” “where there is a will there a way” “shows that we can achieve whatever we want” Team work “spirit and power of team work” “will power and determination” “unity and focus on common goal” “about how people can achieve the impossible by coming together, irrespective of castes” “unity is strength” Learning “zeal and willingness to learn” “the transformation from ignorance to winning is something” “even if you don't know something you can learn and achieve it” TOP Impact that the movie seems to have had (on various aspects of life) The majority agreed that the movie had an impact on all aspects of life. This is
  5. 5. reinforced by the fact that the respondents were able to see comparisons with their personal and work lives in many aspects. Two areas of significant impact emerged: 1. Impact on community and society: caste system, inequality, oppression, poverty, untouchability “a moral lesson to society and community” “how it is possible to fight non-violently” “colors of unity, courage and selflessness” “like our national team where emotions run further than professionalism” 2. Impact on personal and work life “something about everyday life” “reminds us of how we are and what we should do” “in our work life we realize how much more we can do if we are confident and determined” “teaches children to work hard be it studies or sports” “unless and until one succeeds no one will have faith in him” “need to be dedicated towards your job and have a zeal for learning” “feel every group head should see this” “like setting out to start something new, it can be motivating and inspiring” “as in the movie if there is no unity in business, then it is sure to fail” “every step in life is a battle to be fought” “how in order to get something we need to do something” “the beginning of the movie reminds us of the kind of struggles one faced in the initial days of starting business” Conclusions Lessons that we can learn & teach It is evident that Lagaan has the potential to help us learn and teach some very important lessons in Management & Leadership. While even this limited research effort has thrown up so many significant lessons, we see many more that can be learnt. Here are some: 1. The importance of Learning to survive & win 2. The importance of accepting & working with diversity 3. The need for a “can do” spirit, a positive attitude and the importance of fighting the typical Indian despondency. 4. The need to stay focused single-mindedly on Results 5. The power & importance of patriotism and National pride 6. The importance of being objective & unbiased
  6. 6. 7. The importance of trust despite betrayal 8. The importance of learning to manage and work with limitations and minimum resources 9. The importance of taking chances & risks to make dreams come true 10. The leader's role in a. being able to spot talent b. physically & emotionally mobilising a team c. coaching the team d. leading by example e. using the right balance of humor, encouragement and force What is significant is that many of these lessons are not general or universal but are reflective of competencies that Indians need the most. At a time when Indian Organisations are discovering the limitations of using western models to look at Leadership competencies and are searching for Indian ideas, Lagaan has certainly helped make a good beginning in this exploration. TOP Some Ideas for the future It is evident that Indian movies of this kind can certainly be a useful and effective medium to communicate relevant lessons in management and everyday living. While Lagaan is just one example, I am sure there are many produced in the past which hold similar learning potential. India desperately needs role models and national examples for the young and old to emulate. Our Organisations - business and educational need to look for Indian models for ideas and tools (including movies) to facilitate this learning. There are many available and we only need to look hard .…. ….. unless of course we would like to wait for a western author to publish a book on the Lagaan Effect !
  7. 7. 7. The importance of trust despite betrayal 8. The importance of learning to manage and work with limitations and minimum resources 9. The importance of taking chances & risks to make dreams come true 10. The leader's role in a. being able to spot talent b. physically & emotionally mobilising a team c. coaching the team d. leading by example e. using the right balance of humor, encouragement and force What is significant is that many of these lessons are not general or universal but are reflective of competencies that Indians need the most. At a time when Indian Organisations are discovering the limitations of using western models to look at Leadership competencies and are searching for Indian ideas, Lagaan has certainly helped make a good beginning in this exploration. TOP Some Ideas for the future It is evident that Indian movies of this kind can certainly be a useful and effective medium to communicate relevant lessons in management and everyday living. While Lagaan is just one example, I am sure there are many produced in the past which hold similar learning potential. India desperately needs role models and national examples for the young and old to emulate. Our Organisations - business and educational need to look for Indian models for ideas and tools (including movies) to facilitate this learning. There are many available and we only need to look hard .…. ….. unless of course we would like to wait for a western author to publish a book on the Lagaan Effect !

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