Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Guru and business history

Guru is all about daring to dream and making it big in what you do best. It's a typical Mani Ratnam film - a reasonably good storyline ( could be been made into a biopic on the life and times of Dhirubhai Ambani), exceptionally good acting by Abhishek, standard fare from A R Rehman, excellent cinematography etc etc. Well, I could go on to write a critical review of the movie. But that's not what I intend to do.

Plus or minus, Guru is a watchable film though the plot had some loose-ends at times. Most of it verbose, at times it gets decontextualised and fails to provide links while building on the main character. What is interesting here is perhaps this is the first Indian movie to attempt this genre of films, I'm not sure how easy it would be for an Indian Director to venture out a biopic of a business tycoon `a la Aviator. Understandably even though Guru is obviously based on the life of the older Ambani, it could not have dared to present his life without the necessarily censoring the facts. Nevertheless, in a fictional way , the director has made deliberate attempts keep the characters as his creations, though bearing a strong 'fairytale' resemblance to the Reliance and Vimal saga.

Political history is taught as a subject in school whereas business history is not. Culturally (with a predominant middle class) we are biased towards doing something on our own, starting a business venture for instance. A majority of us are still comfortable being employees (than employers), we think twice before supporting new ideas for business, we are happy to find ourselves smugly nestled in our comfort zones. Entrepreneurship is rarely encouraged. On a different front, this movie makes us think of the role played by business persons in the development of a country. How often do we think of the contribution of Tatas, Birlas, Ambanis or Premji or NarayanMurthy when we talk about progress, growth and development? We often measure things by chronicling them with political landmarks and political leaders. It is easier to remember how things changed during the time of Nehru or Indira Gandhi or Vajpayee.

After watching Guru I wondered: what if one makes a movie on the life and times of Narayana Murthy. Isn't he as passionately involved with Infosys as Ambani was with Reliance? Don't they both dream and share the same entrepreunerial spirit? So what, if they come from different educational backgrounds? If one was fighting the License Raj, the other reaping the benefits of 'globalization' and Liberalization - but share the same sense of volumes in whatever they do. Jobs in manufacturing or jobs in services, jobs for educated and less-educated millions of the Indian middle classes. If Ambani's vision was derived from post-independence India, Murthy's , a few decades later. Their mantras for economic growth too find some parallel. I'm sure this movie would inspire several youngsters to discover the entrepreneur in themselves as they write the business history of 21st century India.

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