Can we learn to be unmoved by both success and failure? MSD’s Life tells us, of course, we can!
Yesterday, we watched M.S.Dhoni – The Untold Story (Neeraj Pandey, Sushant Singh Rajput). The film, of course, tells a very powerful, inspirational, story. Of a currently relevant and thriving Indian icon. It could have been much better made, in some parts, but I am not going to complain. I love MSD – who doesn’t? And I love Neeraj Pandey and Rajput! 🙂
The story focuses on the hitherto unknown part of MSD’s Life; of how he gave up being a ticket collector with the Indian Railways to go be the man he is now – cricketer par excellence and Captain Cool! Go watch the movie, mainly for the conversation on Platform 8 of Kharagpur Junction between MSD and his Railways boss A.K.Ganguly – it is almost as if Joseph Campbell (American mythologist and author, 1904~1987) scripted that part because it talks about how MSD really ended up ‘following his bliss’!
But I had a few other, more significant, takeaways. And I am sharing them here.
One, the hero of MSD – the film, is, to me, Paan Singh Dhoni (brilliantly played by Anupam Kher). When Dhoni the son calls from Lahore to validate his success with his father, and asks him if he is happy, Papa Dhoni replies: ‘Haan, mujhe khushi hai…apne galat hone pe mujhe khushi hai’; ‘Yes, I am happy…I am happy to have been proven wrong!’ He concludes the conversation, telling his son to be grounded and to never let the success go to his head. If this is what transpired between father and son in reality, my heart goes out to Paan Singh. One of the greatest qualities a human being can have is the humility to acknowledge a mistake and to be happy accepting it. I think most of the time we struggle with this opportunity to be happy with ourselves. When our intuition or assumptions are proven wrong by Life, and by people around us, we struggle with the new reality. We choose to cling on to an opinion we have had and therefore often suffer. Some see this as a manifestation of ego. I see it as lack of humility. Well, both are actually the same thing. To have an opinion or a sense of something and how it should be is not wrong. But when you are proven wrong, accept the new reality and be happy with it. This makes Life simpler and easier to deal with. Paan Singh, who did not ever wholeheartedly back his son MSD’s choice of a career in cricket, leads the way in acknowledging that he is happy being proven wrong! I clearly take that lesson away from the movie.
My second takeaway is something that is not stated but is evident enough, throughout the movie, to be sensed. Which is the fact that an entire ecosystem toiled to make MSD’s career successful. The coach who urges him to play cricket instead of football, his sister, his mother, his friends – the Sardar who owns a sports shop, Chittu, Santhosh who teaches him the famous ‘helicopter’ shot, his ticket collector friend Satyaprakash, his other friend who goes on to marry his sister Jayanti – and so, so, many more people! I personally felt a huge sense of gratitude to all these people. Without them India would not just have lost a great cricketer, but Indians would have lost an inspiration. And Indian children, particularly those from non-metro, non-urban backgrounds, need that inspiration to dream big and to follow their bliss. Rajesh Sharma, who plays Dhoni’s first coach, steals your heart away in the end, when he gestures, overwhelmed with joy, pride and a sense of accomplishment, after MSD hits the winning six at the Wankhede in the 2011 ICC World Cup, that it was he who had spotted this talent, this national treasure! My takeaway there was that there are so many, often nameless, faceless, people who have selflessly contributed to where we are in Life. You and I may not enjoy the iconic status that Dhoni has. We need not necessarily have it either. But there’s great value in pausing, reflecting and thanking all those who have, in whatever way, contributed to where we are today. Dhoni – the movie, reminded me of this important Life lesson.
Finally, how MSD gathers himself after the tragic death of his girlfriend Priyanka is a revelation. It is hard to imagine now that the early aggression and brilliance of MSD, that catapulted him to cult status with the 2007 T-20 World Cup win, was achieved despite the personal trauma that he was dealing with! So, the unflappability, the Captain-Coolness, that MSD is famous for…that will continue to be my inspiration. The movie only helped reinforce and reiterate this learning in me – to develop, and constantly hone, the ability to be unmoved by either success or failure, after all, both are mere imposters – and are, well, impermanent!
PS: What rankles me about MSD – the movie is that all through the film Sushant Singh Rajput, while showcasing Dhoni’s love for motorbikes, does not wear a helmet! I understand that Dhoni, in real Life, always wears one. The only time Rajput wears a helmet is when he, as Dhoni, is trying to disguise and save himself from fans!
This is irresponsible film-making. Dhoni is an icon. And impressionable kids are going to come away thinking it is ‘cool’ to ride motorbikes without wearing a helmet; just as they think it is ‘cool’ to not wear a seatbelt while driving a car – because most scenes in Indian films involving leading protagonists driving cars show them without seatbelts strapped on!
Our film-makers must play a bigger role in influencing behavioral change in society. They must utilize the opportunity they have! Seriously!