View: So, what movie do you live your life in?

To supplement my not-so-meagre income, I have been toying with the idea of writing and making motivational books and videos. Toying with the idea, of course, won’t get me any money. Writing the books, making the videos may. (Smart readers may have registered what I just did there: drop a motivation as a free sample.)

The first thing, though, that I had to decide is whether I’ll tackle motivational or inspirational stuff. To motivate, as any floor manager worth his or her strutting up and down aisles knows, is quite different from to inspire. Inspirations mostly stay stuck in the ‘feeling’ stage. Motivations are more actionable, of the getting-off-one’s-butt kind.

Plus, inspirers – inspirators? – are a far larger, more variegated pushy bunch. They can be anyone who may not have sought to be inspirational in the first place, but who still ends up inspiring. Tariq Khan has been such an inspirator for me.

As Ratan/Monto in Yadon ki Baraat, he holds a guitar in his hand without playing it even once in the title song scene despite the number having enough guitar ‘jhaaang’s in it. See it for yourself at bit.ly/44jIgoi. Effectively, Tariq has inspired me to get away with doing nothing while constantly ‘holding an instrument’.

But motivating people requires a similar strong sense of self-worth and motivating by example. If Jesus constantly bickered with his neighbours, ‘Love thy neighbour’ would have been dead in the water-turned-wine. So, to get people to act, one has to get one’s act together. Which for me, being not the regular man of action, can be a challenge. Be that as it may, there is one pearl of motivational wisdom I can cast before wine-sippers this Sunday: Choose the movie you are living in.

Let me elaborate (further elaboration may follow in book and video later). Every time we watch a horror movie in which a character opens the basement door and looks down from the top of the stairs into the darkness, we all internally shout out, ‘Lady, that’s the last place you would want to go to in a horror movie!’ And yet, there you have it – the character goes down gingerly, is either gored to death at some point, or is bricked up alive in the basement wall Anarkali-style. But here’s the thing – no character in a horror film knows that she or he is in a horror film. The person goes about life – and into basements – as if it’s real life where basements have washing machines, discarded gym equipment, and where Nokia 3310s go to die. Certainly, they don’t enter into a space they know to be a dank Airbnb to a demonic entity or the malevolent spirit of Henry Lehman, eldest brother of Emanuel and Mayer. In real life, if something creepy goes on, you avoid the basement. But if you flip the film-real life vinyl around, and treat your life as a movie, you have control over the genre you wish to inhabit, and some amount of the narrative in the script too. If you, say, live in a musical, the stress of an approaching deadline can take the form of an over-the-top tune. If it’s an action movie you choose to inhabit, even as you get berated by your boss for showing an astounding lack of initiative, you can have the imaginary pair of Aviators on while taking out your imaginary Beretta M9 for a headshot.

Choosing your film to live in can also help you take decisions. Thinking of buying a home in St Moritz while you’re unsure how your company balance sheets are doing? Depending on whether you’re in House of Cards or Do Bigha Zamin, you can take a call within your comfort zone.

As far as motivating people to live in the movies of their choice goes, I’m not sure whether my kind of gobbledygook will be effective. But there is gobbledygood and gobbledybad. How charmingly, convincingly one can spin it makes all the difference between What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School – which by not going to Harvard Business School most of you know already – and, well, What They Do. As for Tariq and his non-utilised guitar, he remains the motivator for me – always making something out of nothing.


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