Tag: Rajesh Khanna
Einstein, ikigai and equanimity
Why I raise a mid-morning toast to Life!
After my morning walk today I remarked to Vaani: “It feels so good to have walked. It is so energizing.”
Just about 15 years ago, I loathed exercise. I was perpetually on the “busyness treadmill” – running from meeting to meeting, traveling 21 days a month, managing people – their shortcomings, attitudes and tantrums – more than harnessing their talent or managing our business! I had diabetes and hypertension; I weighed 95 kilos and had a tobacco habit. I also drank considerably large volumes of alcohol – frequently, sometimes daily.
And look at how my Life has changed in these years!
I read a story on Albert Einstein’s idea of happiness in the papers a couple of days ago. He has said this is 1922: “A calm and modest Life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.” That was almost 95 years ago, but even today I can relate to his philosophy. Simply because I have lived that restless Life and understood its futility. When we went bankrupt in 2007 (Read more here: Fall Like A Rose Petal), and in dealing with worklessness and pennilessness for most of the past decade, I realized that the greatest wealth in Life is the ability to celebrate what is, to live fully in the present moment. I believe I squandered a large part of my 20s and 30s pursuing success – name, fame, money – and so I was constantly restless. I was searching for something; I don’t ever remember feeling fulfilled or complete at that time. And then – poof! – everything material was snatched away from me, from us. And I was forced to learn to be patient with Life. That’s when – and how – I learnt the value of being calm and of enjoying, savoring, each moment – no matter how tough our circumstances have been.
Interestingly, I am reading ikigai – The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life (by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles) currently. ikigai is an ancient Japanese concept that means ‘reason for being’ or ‘a reason to jump out of bed every morning’! The book’s interesting. Though I feel it is more focused on the idea of longevity than on happiness itself. And I come from the Anand (1971, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan) school of thought of “Babumoshai, zindagi badi honi chahiye, lambi nahin”!!! (Life must be a grand celebration and not necessarily long!) Even so, I completely relate to the idea of ikigai! Because only when we understand the reason for our being, only when we have a reason to jump out of bed every morning, will we learn to be happy – despite the circumstances!
It’s been a fascinating morning for me…yet another day worth celebrating despite our zillion problems…there are so, so many broken parts of our Life that we don’t know how to fix, but re-reading Einstein’s idea of happiness, living my ikigai, worshipping a carefully cultivated sense of equanimity and relishing every sip of Vaani’s coffee…make me look forward with enthusiasm. To Life!
How I am learning to live happily, peacefully, in a WhatsApp Group-ridden world!
If we can overcome the urge to want to make a point and to be seen as being right, every single time, we will have learnt the art of intelligent living.
Yesterday, I posted this Prayer on my personal Facebook Wall:
Grant us this day, and ever after, this Prayer…
Disable Forwarding Privileges on WhatsApp
And give us Sense and Sensibility among our WhatsApp Groups
And grant people the compassion so that they don’t add us back when we have quit a WhatsApp Group
And, through all of this, make this digital world a better place for us to leave behind for our children, and their children…
PS: Even if you like this status, please don’t forward it…:) 🙂 :)!!!
It was posted half in jest. And half out of concern.
I am part of very few WhatsApp Groups. Out of these, a majority are well-regulated, non-spamming Groups. Some are virulently spamming and so, I ignore the spam in them and scoop out only relevant messages. In one Group that I am part of, the Admins are making a valiant effort to invite people to pause and reflect before they spam. They are encouraging self-regulation and sensitivity rather than enforcing discipline with non-negotiable rules.
It is in watching their struggle that I was inspired to write this Prayer yesterday and this blogpost today.
Over a drink last night, I thought through deeply about what we can learn about human behavior and about ourselves while being part of WhatsApp Groups – spamming, non-spamming, whatever kind!
I personally don’t read forwards, jokes and spam memes (including festival wishes). I don’t believe in anything that’s not personal. If it lacks a personal touch – including stuff that comes over email/bccs) – it gets trashed by me instantaneously. In fact, my WhatsApp Status message reads thus: “Please don’t send me Jokes and Forwards. Appreciate your kindness. :)” A huge majority of my contacts respect this choice of mine. And I deeply value their sensitivity.
But, of course, I realize that not everyone is the same. Fundamentally, we human beings are very expressive. Introverted is a word that does not really apply to us. Seriously. Even the most “introverted” person is expressing himself or herself through their silence. Silence is a great way to say something – several things in fact! So, because we are expressive, and because not all of us are very powerful conversationalists, over phone or face to face, a platform such as WhatsApp gives us so much space, and opportunity, to say whatever we want to. Sometimes, we may have nothing to say, but WhatsApp is seductive enough to entice us to want to make a statement. A Forward, which has no connection with either the subject being discussed or the core intention of a WhatsApp Group, is someone’s way of seizing the opportunity to make that statement. A meaningless festival meme or joke being forwarded is the person’s way of hollering in the deep, black, endless, digital hole: “Hellooooooow! See, I Forward, Therefore I Am!” Further WhatsApp – more than Facebook – because it is at this time hugely text/image driven and smartphone-based, allows instant gratification on several fronts: you can express yourself by forwarding, you can speak your mind on social, economic, cultural, political and religious issues, you can berate someone, you can take on anyone, argue, debate, and fire your salvos (often your dormant emotions, feelings, opinions a.k.a your dil ki bhadaas) head-on. In a face-to-face debate, a better communicator can win an argument. But on WhatsApp, you can drown someone and their argument with your ability to type faster and, interestingly, purge endlessly. If you observe closely, a pattern you will often find in your Groups is that very combative stances taken on issues by people are purely a function of what they think of you as an individual and has nothing to do with their being objective or issue-based. I chose to exit my school WhatsApp Group for the same reason – people who believed Vaani and I were faking a bankruptcy kept attacking every post of mine, while others watched in ‘dignified’ silence. Initially, I didn’t see the pattern. But when I saw it, I exited because I didn’t want the camaraderie in a school buddies forum to be vitiated by a few people’s opinions of one individual and his Life! So, in summary, WhatsApp to a majority of people is not just a messaging platform. It is the virtual version of the Speakers’ Corner in London’s Hyde Park. At least in London, the police intervene when there is a complaint. In a WhatsApp Group, unless the Admins are strict, who is to regulate? And, seriously, no Admin wants more administration responsibilities on their Life’s plate – which is overflowing from so much to do already!
So, how do we live, survive, converse and, if you like, share, in a WhatsApp Group-ridden world?
Here’s what I have learnt to do – take whatever works for you, if it doesn’t, well, trash it! 🙂
#1. To not be in a WhatsApp Group is a personal choice, so exercise it. In essence, this is a leadership moment – decide!
#2. If you choose to stay (if you are being forced to stay, revisit #1), please be sure to stop complaining. Complaining never made anything better. It only makes you bitter.
#3. If you are on a WhatsApp Group that’s stuffed with folks who are Forward Terrorists, you can learn to ignore their posts. Ignoring is an art. Not everything in Life is relevant or requires your attention and focus. And these folks are giving you a great opportunity every single day to learn the art of ignoring all that is not relevant.
#4. Related to #3 are two other arts – the art of not having an opinion and/or the art of not having to share an opinion. The human mind rushes you to want you to have a say in everything. You need not opinionate on everything and in some contexts, even if you have an opinion, it is pointless to voice it. So, simply, learning these two arts, helps you practice patience. A very, very, very important Life skill.
#5. Finally, if someone’s being rude, combative, unnecessarily argumentative, then don’t react. Just be silent. The best way to win any battle is to not fight at all. That’s an art too – and WhatsApp gives you just the right opportunity daily to forgive, forget and move on.
I treat my engagement with the world via WhatsApp as an opportunity to unlearn, learn and share. If my saying anything will create value, if it is an original thought, I share. If not, I remain silent. Yes, I am human too. And so I wish my fellow humans are more sensitive than they are…but then, because I can’t go change the way people are engineered, or the way they think, I lean on this great, spiritual, song from Amar Prem (1972, Shakti Samanta, R.D.Burman, Anand Bakshi, Kishore Kumar) which reminds me that Kuch Toh Log Kahenge…
And this is the way I believe I can live happily, peacefully, in a WhatsApp Group-ridden world!
Life = Coddiwompling!
Always it is the journey that’s more important than the destination.
A Facebook meme that came in my newsfeed piqued my interest. It read: Coddiwomple (v.) to travel in a purposeful manner to a vague destination. Instantly, I made a spiritual connection with the word. I thought to myself, doesn’t this describe what we all must ideally be doing in Life?
We have all been created. And eventually we will all die. After that what? So, the destination is indeed vague and on the way to where we will all end up going – death – we are always searching for meaning. I have discovered that this search itself is futile. Because Life has no meaning.
Think about it. We have been created without our asking to be born. Our death is inevitable. It is certain. We came with nothing. We will go with nothing. So why this Life? If you can’t take away anything that you worked on acquiring in this lifetime, why slog, why earn, why invest, why engage, why love, why hate…why all this drama? So, if you hold this perspective that Osho, the Master, championed, you will realize that Life is utterly, totally meaningless. Yet, the only way to live with inner peace and happiness is to bring meaning to this meaningless Life. And only you have to bring that meaning. No one else can do it for you.
So, intelligent living really is coddiwompling – traveling in a purposeful manner to a vague destination! Simply, it is purpose that makes the difference between living and merely existing. And purpose, that seemingly elusive meaning, is what you must want to do to make your journey of this lifetime exciting, interesting, energizing and joyous. It is what makes you come alive. This morning’s Hindu carries a story of how an RJ, Rani Jha of BIG FM, helped reunite a 6-year-old boy with his family in Mumbai after over two months of tireless efforts. Now, that’s a great example of purposeful living. I don’t see purpose as always a grand, epochal, cosmic design. I see it as the ability to do anything, just about anything, that can make you leave the world better than how you found it.
As Rajesh Khanna’s Anand says in Anand (1971, Hrishikesh Mukherjee): “Babumoshai, zindagi badi honi chahiye, lambi nahin!” It means, live a big Life, impactful Life, meaningful Life, not necessarily a long one! So, on that uplifting note, happy Coddiwompling people – and for company, here’s a yodeling Kishore Kumar at his best in this memorable ode to Life, Zindagi Ek Safar, from Andaz (1971, Ramesh Sippy, Hasrat Jaipuri, Shankar-Jaikishen, Rajesh Khanna, Hema Malini)!
Our reactions to #Kabali offer us an opportunity to pause and introspect
Learn to be non-judgmental and un-opinionated – especially if you don’t know the full story.
I didn’t quite want to write a post on Kabali. Already there is so much virtual real estate in social media that’s consumed by the pre- and post-release frenzy over the movie. But my friend Bishwanath Ghosh’s (BG) column in today’s Hindu Melange titled “Why Rajnikanth Rocks” got me thinking.
BG points out that the greatness of Rajnikanth lies in the fact that the man separates himself from his work and resultant superstardom. “He is perhaps the only actor in the country who takes his work — and not himself — seriously,” writes BG. And almost anyone who knows anything about Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, the man, will agree that BG is bang on there. I have met Rajnikanth as a journalist when I was working for India Today more than 25 years ago. From what I hear of him from people who know him closely now, he hasn’t changed at all from the impression I have of him – simple, humble, genuinely amazed by how insanely popular he is and never considering himself to be an actor of substance at all. In fact, in a pre-release interview that Kabali’s director Pa.Ranjith gave Vishal Menon of The Hindu, Ranjith says that Rajnikanth often told him this: “I am not at all an actor.” So, in the wake of who Rajnikanth really is, and how he treats his superstardom, I believe, the frenzied pre- and post-release reactions to Kabali, tell us more about ourselves than serve as a denouement of the movie’s fate at the box office.
The #nerruppuda hashtag changing to #verruppuda, #kaduppuda, #serruppuda, or whatever, tells the story of a virulent audience response after first-day first-show viewings. But that’s the way audiences are worldwide. As Rajesh Khanna would often famously quote from the Kishore Kumar song (Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Anand Bakshi) from his own film Roti (1974): ‘Yeh Jo Public Hai, Yeh Sab Jaanti Hai’. As we all know audiences have little respect or patience for the processes and the emotions behind any creative work. And, in an instant gratification environment, marketers, who want to milk anything and everything, are quick to build hype even over fluffy offering. This past month everyone – from Air Asia to jewelers to Uber to pickle brands – has been milking Rajnikanth’s popularity. Now, there’s nothing wrong with marketing. But to expect a product to live up to marketing hype is always a tall ask. A movie is but a director’s way of telling a story. Some may like it. Some may not like it. To passionately associate with an actor, and make him or her a star or superstar, and unceremoniously disassociate and dump him or her later, is every fan’s birthright. But let’s pause for a moment to ask ourselves this question: What are you and I really doing here? You are saying that if someone is this way or that way then I like that person. And if that person does not live up to my expectation of him or her, I don’t want to have anything to do with him or her. So, essentially, it is what you expect that has begun to matter. Not who this person, that you claim you are a fan of, really is and what he or she wants.
I am not holding a brief for Rajnikanth here. I am not even saying what is the right way or what is the wrong way of being a fan or a superstar. All I am saying is that let’s not rush to judge people without having been in their shoes.
To be sure, none of us knows what it means to be Rajnikanth. Or for that matter what it means to be a Virat Kohli today. We don’t know what it means to carry the burden of having to live up to the expectations of millions of customers or fans – every single time you step up to do something, or simply, go to work! At the end of the day, what a Rajnikanth does is, he works for a living – it is a business like any other. And Kabali is a product like any other movie is. If the product is bad, like some sections of the audience are reporting it is, then we must simply remember the age old wisdom that “no amount of good advertising can sell a bad product.” But the product being bad does not necessarily mean its makers don’t have good intentions or that they have no talent or potential. Besides, we have a right as consumers to reject a product if it does not appeal to us. But let us stop with this. Let us not pass judgment – the unkindest comment I read somewhere is that “Soundarya is intent on making her father (Rajnikanth) bankrupt” – or opinionate on what kind of films Rajnikanth must act in or what characters he must play. The shooting-from-the-hip attitude we are seeing on display on social media over the past 24 hours is an important reminder for all of us to revisit a significant principle of intelligent living: In situations where we know little about a person or the space they work in or the Life they lead, passing judgment or opinionating, is totally avoidable.
Just as you work for joy and profits, so does someone like Rajnikanth or Pa.Ranjith. The most ideal situation is when someone can get both joy and profits out of what they are doing. And sometimes, as in the movies business, even if the audiences reject the product, the people who made it may have enjoyed the process of creation. We will never know. Because we are neither Rajnikanth nor Pa.Ranjith. So, the best we can do is to watch the movie, if we really want to, we can like it or dislike it, and move on. Let’s not pass judgment on people whose lives we have not lived and so whose lives we can never understand.
PS: I am not a fan of Rajnikanth, the Superstar, but I believe he is a great actor and a greater human being!
Monday meditation on lessons from a Superstar’s Life
Everything passes on. Everyone passes on. Live every moment fully, happily, before it too passes on, into eternity.
I woke up realizing it is Rajesh Khanna’s death anniversary today. He passed on this day, in 2012.
His story of superstardom is folklore now. People of my generation grew up watching him mesmerize audiences in film after film! That is, until hubris struck him. With the arrival of Amitabh Bachchan Hindi cinema audiences preferred the Angry Young Man to the romantic hero. Sadly, instead of changing his screen strategy to suit the times, Rajesh grew jealous of Amitabh’s rising popularity. Books by biographers and researchers talk of how he snubbed Amitabh on the sets of Bawarchi (1972, Hrishikesh Mukherjee) – Amitabh did not have an onscreen role in the film (he was only the narrator), but he would hang around the sets courting a young Jaya Bhaduri then. They also talk of Rajesh’s drinking bout one night after coming back from an awards function where the crowds ran past him to mob and seek autographs from Amitabh. It is believed that Rajesh, in drunken stupor, ran up to the terrace of his bungalow Aashirwad, and in pouring rain, kneeled down on the ground, looked up at the menacing skies and cried out, asking: “Why, why me?”
I have loved Rajesh Khanna as anybody else in India has – as an actor who gave us great memories! Memories that have been made even more unputdownable by the songs that R.D.Burman composed for him, and those that Kishore Kumar sang for him! But I will always remember Rajesh Khanna for something else too. I will remember him for this acceptance speech that he delivered at an IIFA Awards event in 2009. There’s a big lesson, in how Life plays the big leveler, in observing him receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from, who else, Amitabh Bachchan – the man who knocked him out of relevance! There’s also a lesson in acceptance and moving on here, in hearing him recite his famous lines from Daag (1973, Yash Chopra) after he receives the Award. I am not sure if Rajesh ever realized the spiritual depth of what he said that night. But the lessons I gleaned from that speech (a reel dialogue mounted perfectly in a real Life context!) will stay with me forever: nothing is permanent and everything will, over time, pass on!
So, this Monday, I meditate on those learnings. I recognize that everything happens through me, and not because of me. Where I am in Life, I know I only have a right to make my efforts, every single day, while staying detached from the fruits of my actions – the Bhagavad Gita’s most basic tenet is now indelibly ingrained in me. I am grateful to Life for teaching me, through my experiences, to be this way. I know and accept that Life happens in phases, and every phase, like everything and everyone, will pass on…my job really is, as Life flows, to live fully, happily, in each moment!
Reflections on ‘Aashirwad’, Rajesh Khanna and the essence of the Bhagavad Gita
|The TOI story|
For heaven’s sake, it is not ‘zindagi ka suffer’….!
A lesson in intelligent living from Rajesh Khanna’s superstardom
|Rajesh Khanna: Dec 29 1942 ~ Jul 18 2012
Picture Courtesy: Internet
Lessons from a Star and a Super Star
|Yuvi: With Player of The Tournament Trophy and ICC ODI WC 2011
Picture Courtesy: Internet