I admire Bollywood for many valuable management lessons, particularly for us in the Indian IT industry. Take for example the idea of reinventing oneself. From silent movies to the talkies, from black and white to Technicolor, from analog to digital, from cinema halls to multiplexes, Bollywood has made sure that technology has never stayed more than a step ahead of the film business at any time. The same has been the case with storylines; it is amazing how scripts have changed even as the boy-meets-girl core is a constant. Fifty years ago, Bollywood wove magic and mesmerised audiences with stories of Rani Sahibas and the Raj Mahals;
today it covers a wide canvas from cricket patriotism to counter insurgency, and does not shy away from topics such as mental illness, homosexuality and caste-based violence. The heroes and heroines, villains and vamps have been constantly reinvented; stereotypes have been challenged with consistent regularity.
In all these, people usually forget to note a fundamental thing: that Bollywood has never seen shortage of great talent; there never was a famine for any single category, from light boys to music arrangers to editors to screenplay writers. But most significantly, there was never ever a dearth of heroes and heroines. The industry has consistently produced great talent and has a superb sense of overlay and smooth transition so that never ever anyone had to wonder what would happen after one superstar or the other was gone. Prithviraj Kapoor to Amitabh Bachchan to Ranbir Kapoor, from Madhubala to Madhuri Dixit to Deepika Padukone, there has never been a moment of anxiety about who would fill anyone’s shoes. People have certainly mattered, giants have been born but they have not made themselves indispensable.
As a result, the industry has prospered; it has remained recession-proof, it has globalised, and it has remained aspirational. Like everything else Indian, dynastic advantages have been there but those alone have not helped anyone to get to the top, far less, stay there. Audiences and hence, producers, have been cold to anyone foisted upon them who did not bring more than DNA to the party.