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Not Just Luck By Chance

This is Part 2 in a two-part series on Bollywood and Entrepreneurship. Read the first part here

Conviction: In recent times, one of the best films about the film business was Zoya Akhtar’s Luck By Chance, released in 2009. It tells the story of Vikram Jaisingh, an aspiring actor, and his efforts to make it in Bollywood amidst cut-throat competition. Vikram believes that success and failure are simply choices people make. In a dramatic scene, his girlfriend breaks down when she learns that she has been overlooked for a lead role in a movie she had spent years chasing. Vikram tells her that so far you’ve believed in and relied on others, now believe in yourself.

He tells her that opportunities are not found, they are created. Apne raaste par chalte raho, chalte raho…dheere dheere saari duniya tumhare raaste par aa jaayegi (Keep traveling your chosen path, gradually the whole world will start following you on that path), says Vikram Jaisingh. Played expertly by Farhan Akhtar, Jaisingh goes on to become a superstar. The movie keeps the viewer guessing whether he was just lucky or “created luck” by sheer hard work, drive and conviction.

Conviction is indispensable for entrepreneurs, particularly the truly innovative ones. Success is elusive and hard to come by. When starting out, family, friends and everyone around you wish you well but they also harbour doubts. Personal conviction is paramount, but it is also very important for entrepreneurs to have a mentor and guide who has unfailing conviction, someone who can advise and course-correct when required while believing in the dream. While it’s difficult justifying a stressful lifestyle and long work hours indefinitely without showing some accomplishment; as an old saying goes, the distance between madness and genius is only bridged by success.

Contentment: Clarity, confidence and conviction mutually reinforce each other, eventually leading to breakthroughs. A hint of success and achievement can alter public perceptions. The idea of the personal computer was considered outlandish, but the entrepreneurs who pushed its development are part of business legend today – history is replete with many such examples.

Success and recognition are accompanied by pitfalls, and they can breed a sense of contentment. Contentment breeds a stasis that can destroy an organization. Again, the role of a mentor who helps maintain the entrepreneur’s focus and passion is critical. Contentment can quickly undo the positive effects of the other three Cs. The biggest risk is not taking enough risks.

The hunger and drive never really dies in effective entrepreneurs. In the movie Guru, Gurubhai asks his shareholders whether they want to become the largest company in the world, now that the company is the largest in India. Vikram Jaisingh describes a friend working in theater as “content” – after working in theater for several months, he had achieved some success and was unwilling to rock the boat.

When entrepreneurs combine the first three Cs and ward against the fourth, stars are born.

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