Saturday, 25 April 2009

Luck by Chance

Though the movie is pretty old, I finally found time to watch this very recently. As I was watching it, so many thoughts flew past my mind which I thought I would share here along with the story itself:

‘Luck by Chance’ is the story of an aspiring actor Vikram (Farhan Akhtar) who wishes to make it big in Bollywood like many other people. He has friends who think that he does not even know the basics of acting, let alone playing the lead role. But his girlfriend Sona (Konkona) believes in his abilities and supports him all the time. At around the same time, the biggest production house in bollywood, the Romy Rolly productions is having a movie made with to launch the daughter Nikki (Isha Shravani) of a yesteryear’s superstar Neena Walia (Dimple Kapadia). It so happens that the original hero of the movie, a famous Bollywood name, Zaffar Khan (Hrithik) refuses to do the movie halfway through the shoot and the production house is looking out for new faces for the lead role.

By a master stroke of lady luck, and of course some help from his girlfriend, Vikram finds himself doing the lead role of the movie. And once he acquires the celebrity status, his life-style changes drastically – he cheats on his girlfriend with beautiful women of the movie land, he belittles his friends as if they dint mean anything, and all the stuff that we usually associate movie people with. During the end of the movie, the lead protagonist realizes how self-centered he has become with his new found status and tries to patch up with his old buddies.

I felt good after having watched the movie and was thankful that someone had the guts to make such a movie. It was a movie about what actually happens in the movie land and someone had taken the pains to show to the outside world its harsh realities. People with real talent struggle for years together to get a role in the movies. After that they have to prove themselves in the industry. The struggle for such people somehow never ends. The lucky ones however manage to make it big overnight and stay at the top for years.

It was at that time I realized that this argument holds true for almost every field where the competition is stiff. There are some lucky ones who always manage to get the same success with a level of preparation that is less than most of the others. And even after too much of preparation and inherent talent, some people never seem to achieve success.

As an example, let us consider the case of one of the toughest entrance exams in the country. This exam is conducted by the premier management institutes in the country for entry into their MBA courses. Close to 3 lakh students take up this examination in the hope of gaining an entry and finally, only 1500 people make it. Thus, the pressure to perform on the day of the exam is immense on every test taker and it is only the performance in that 2.5 hours that decide whether you get to the next stage or not. Students spend years and years preparing for that most important 2.5 hours of their lives in the hope of cracking the test. But due to immense competition, it is only quite a few of them who finally get to go the next stage.

These days, whenever I speak to a friend of mine, the conversation is always about a co-worker of hers who has acquired celebrity status of late by cracking this tough test. I have heard this colleague’s name so many times in the past few months that the name keeps echoing in my ears all the time. Thankfully for me, it is a God’s name :) Till a few days ago, he was just a normal person like any other in the industry – a bachelor who stayed with his friends close to office, working as much as the job demanded, sometimes even on weekends, and seemingly satisfied with his job. But a few days ago, he just sent a mail to his teammates at work saying that he was selected for not one but four of the premier management institutes of the country for a MBA course which made him a celebrity almost instantaneously. His usually quiet desk at office suddenly had turned into a hotspot where people from all over the workplace flocked and asking him all sorts of questions. They asked him how he had managed to crack such a tough exam with such less preparation, how he had managed to keep his cool under pressure in such grilling interviews, asked for tips from him so that even they could crack the exam next time by following his lead and so on… he had become a hero.

I find it quite funny when people give so much importance to what successful people say or do. They feel that if they imitate whatever the successful people do, they will also become successful in life. In college, there are people who borrow books from only those seniors who would have got high marks. There might be a student who might have made the best possible notes. But those are not important. What matters is how celebrities behave. Consider a student who has prepared for an examination for years and years and has adopted the best possible study methods. All those are irrelevant if the student does not do well in the exam. On the other hand, people flock to get that invaluable, ever so precious piece of "preparation-tip" from a successful student even if that student has done it merely by luck.

This guy had no plans of giving the test in the first place. He was happy with his work. But he stayed in a PG room where his friends prepared for the test day in and day out. It was just because of them, he took up the test. Out of three sections in the test, he never used to score in one of them and had given up hope. During the final days of preparation, when many people in office take holidays to prepare for the test, this fellow had worked even on weekends as the job demanded him to do so. He had given up preparation completely and as admitted by him, he had written the test “just for time pass”. He did the two sections by himself and in the third section; he had marked the answers randomly. It was a risk and it had paid off. It was his day. His friends had written other entrance exams and could not manage to get into any of them. But he, who had taken up the exam just for the sake of them, had made it to the top most institutes in the country making everyone envious of him. Besides, there were far more deserving persons who had given their best shot and he had snatched the initiative from one of those people.

What saddened everyone the most was the way that he acted after getting through. Even he was aware it was purely luck that had got him there. But the taste of success had made him so much self-centered and proud. He would no longer work the same way he did earlier, he would crib about the work that he did making the others at work uncomfortable; he would not help others if they were stuck and he even did shrewd calculations about leaving the work on a favorable lucky day.

Not all people are like this guy though. There are ones who really work hard to make it big in life. And when these people make it big in life we feel happy. One of my batchmates at work has also cracked this test this year and has made it to his dream institute. His story is one of hard-work and determination. As compared to the other person’s story, this one is far more motivating and inspiring. Luck was necessary in both cases – but the way in which the latter behaved was totally commendable.

We need to have luck and complete faith to achieve what we aspire for in our lives. Some people are helped by lady Luck more than the others. But assuming that this luck will always be with us till the end of our life and acting smart will serve no purpose. Also, if luck does not favor you even after all the hard-work you did, there is no need to lose hope. It is important to have complete faith in yourself. Ultimately, life will give you what you rightly deserve - not by chance; but for certainty.

Monday, 13 April 2009

My Initiative

The elections for the Lok Sabha are happening on the 23 rd of this month. When I asked a few friends of mine about their awareness about the current elections, I found out that many people were ignorant or had turned a blind eye to the happenings around their area.

This being the case, I thought of creating a one-stop site that consisted of all the information about the candidates contesting the elections in Bangalore, the mapping of assembly and parliamentary constituencies and a few tips on "smart voting". Though this has taken so much of time, there is still lots of scope for improvement.

The link to the site is:

Please check this out and let me know your valuable comments.

Friday, 3 April 2009

God is now here!

I walk to the temple near my place every Thursday whenever I am home early. It is my own private moment with God – a time of contemplation of the days gone by; of quiet observations and feeling of the present; and of acceptance of the future. Tired after a whole day and seeing close to half of the city with its vehicular traffic and pollution, I prefer to walk to the temple instead of driving the activa. Besides, walking also gives me time to observe the people and things around me very closely and trying to understand the delicate intricacies of the world.

Since it is a Raghavendra Swamy Mutt, the temple is crowded on a Thursday. Outside the gates, there is commotion most of the times because of two wheelers and four wheeler owners struggling to find parking space, flower vendors asking you to buy all their flowers for a good price, beggars engulfing almost the entire footpath and pestering everyone entering in and out for alms. Even after entering the corridor, the noises continue – the priests chanting shlokas loudly, housewives gossiping about the happenings of the whole world, old people singing chants of the lord loudly, people meeting up old friends and as always the ubiquitous mobile phones ringing here and there with a variety of ringtones.

I bow to the Lord and go for the regular pradakshinas observing everyone around closely. There would be people from all walks of life and age-groups over there – the students who come there with their tution bags and praying for success in exams, the busy working professionals who come down directly from their offices in their work attires to pray for nice appraisals, the young girls in their mid-twenties praying for a early marriage with a nice groom, the housewives who come to pray for their whole families, the young couple teaching their kids small chants in praise of the lord, the unemployed or the relatively poor people praying for success in life and so on…. Sometimes, there will be discourses by learned people going on with only the people over fifty years of age sitting and listening to it.

It is the kids that interest me the lot. Some are still not old enough to walk and are carried around by their parents. They keep observing other people with wide open cute eyes, occasionally smiling at someone who smiles at them. Some kids are old enough to run helter-skelter across the corridor and enjoy in their own world. Some kids are taught small chants by their parents and mumble the chants in their own sweet ways. Some are curious about the whole thing and keep asking questions - Who is God? Why is He all powerful? What will happen if I don’t pray to Him? – the kind of questions even the renowned philosophers find it tough to answer.

I then start to wonder what it is that I have come to the temple for. My mind goes back to the first here – during my third semester exams. I had done one exam very badly that day in spite of studying hard for it. It was the first shock where I came to know of the VTU standards. I had a feeling that I would fail in that subject. There were many more subjects coming in very few days and I was too scared. I could not concentrate on anything. I had come here by chance. I dint know what to do – I dint want to ask God for assurances that I would pass. I just sat there bowing my head and closed my eyes in meditation. I realized that there was nothing much I could do about it. If God had destined me to fail, I could not help it. I just prayed for the courage to accept whatever I got – it was a great feeling then. My heart felt so light and was filled with joy. I went back and gave the exams my best shot. The exams were done and I had passed with good marks. And Since then, I had decided that I would go there every week – not to ask God for favors but to thank him for whatever I got. I just would go there to pray for the well-being of everyone in this world – sarve janah sukhino bhavanthu!

I see many people in the temple full of worries. I just close my eyes for some time to meditate and think about people and life. Everyone has their own reason for being sad in life – some feel they are not good-looking. The good-looking feel they don’t have enough money. The ones who have money feel they are very dark and wish they were fair. The fair ones feel they are not intelligent. The intelligent ones feel no one loves them. And everyone prays for blessings to get all that they want. But the irony of life is such that the wants never end – once you have got the thing that you need the most you will want the next one or would have lost the first one. A poor, healthy worker slogs day in and day out to become rich- and when he finally gets the money, he would have lost his health. In that matter, we are all equal and the same before god – if God does not want to give you something at this point of time, it is only because he is giving it to the one who needs it more than you. No need to worry about that – you will ultimately get the best in life. This realization gives the ultimate happiness in life and leads to immediate satisfaction.

I had this post in mind for so many days and finally was able to post it on a very auspicious day. Today is RaamNavami – the birthday of Lord Rama - probably the most controversial of Indian gods and the one who touches the emotional chords of every Hindu. The politicians have used his name in selfish ways but have completely forgotten the values for which He stood. The perfect adherence to Dharma, the tag of “Maryada Puroshotama”, the governance like “Rama Raajya” is nowhere to be seen these days. These are just some of the examples that we could derive from this divine figure and start practicing in our lives immediately – regardless of whether we believe in his very existence or not. I wish each one of you a very happy festival and nice, bright days for the rest of your lives.