The Master Plan has no flaws.
I never met Shashi Kapoor. But I, like most others, love him and his cinema.
When he passed away a couple of days ago, I recalled reading Aseem Chhabra’s biography, Shashi Kapoor – The Householder, The Star, of him last year. I could particularly relate to a chapter, “On the Money – Shashi, the Producer and the Businessman”, where Aseem analyzes why, despite making good cinema, Shashi failed to make money. He was a large-hearted man. He gave his directors an “open chequebook”. And they often made creative choices that went against the grain of the economics of film production. Aseem speaks to Shashi’s children Kunal and Sanjana, to his co-star Sharmila Tagore, to critics and friends Madhu Jain and Anil Dharker, and to several others, in making this assessment.
I guess if someone made an assessment of me, and my choices, that led to our eventual bankruptcy, (Read more here: Fall Like A Rose Petal) it would be no different. In hindsight, the way we ran our business was very un-businesslike. Particularly, after we separated with a customer, who accounted for 60 % of our revenues, on ethical grounds.
I am often asked these questions – Do you regret the choices you made in Life? Do you feel bitter about how your ethics have landed you in this mess? Do you believe you may have acted differently if you were placed in a similar situation now?
All that is conjecture today.
In Life – and so, of course, in business too – you do what you believe you have to do. Sometimes your decisions go in your favor. Sometimes they blow up on your face. You take Life as it comes actually. I have no regrets. As entrepreneurs, Vaani and I, acted in the best interests of our team members, our clients and our investors – in that order. All our choices, particularly financial and in relation to our Firm’s operations, were focused on creating value for our people and our clients. We paid good salaries, had good incentives like paid overseas vacations and even gave away a car to a top performing team member once. As I said, no regrets absolutely. We did all that only because we believed in doing them. That our choices were not prudent from a business point of view was evident to us only in hindsight. But we have taken our losses and our fall in our stride. We owe all our borrowings to our 179 Angels/creditors – even now; we remain committed and accountable for these monies. But we are not bitter over what has happened to us entrepreneurs and as a family!
I am not sure how Shashi coped with this learning or whether he saw it as a learning at all. Aseem’s book seems to indicate that he took it in his stride too. Which is the way to be.
What I have learnt is that everything in Life happens per a larger design – the Master Plan. And this Plan has no flaws. The choices and decisions you make eventually bring you to where you must arrive. I cannot see myself as having done anything differently because I am not resisting or disliking where I find myself. My evolution as a person has been wholesomely aided and abetted by my bankruptcy. And so, I am eternally grateful to Life for this experience.
Ultimately, you came with nothing. And you will go with nothing. As long as you remain morally anchored and are accountable for your choices, as long as you can face yourself in the mirror each morning, keep ploughing on, keep flowing with Life. As the lyrics of the brilliant song Khilte Hain Gul Yahaan from Sharmilee (picturized on Shashi Kapoor and Rakhee; 1971, Samir Ganguly, S.D.Burman, Neeraj, Kishore Kumar) go, “…chaar pal mile jo aaj pyaar mein guzaar do…”!