Let me begin by wishing all my faithful readers a very happy New Year. I spent a good four days last week with my family in Surat. This being my wife’s hometown and as son-in-law I had my wife’s family fawning over me, which embarrasses me no end. But their unmitigated love acts as a soothing balm on the travails of the four-plus hour exhausting drive from Mumbai to Surat. It’s another thing that I spent half the time on calls with colleagues from across the globe, as we had a huge deal to close. But the trip was memorable as we also had some close friends come over from Mumbai, indulging in some unique gastronomic adventures (some of the cuisine that you will not find anywhere else), with the added advantage of the ladies being able to shop for the fabrics that Surat is famous for.

Another highlight of the trip was all of trudging off to a local multiplex to watch the movie Dangal. To call it just an inspirational movie would be an understatement. This would arguably be the best movie of the year (only Sairat comes close) – supremely entertaining, highly motivating and brilliantly acted. The debutantes are so good that they can easily put veteran actors to shame. Aamir Khan effortlessly puts to rest speculations about who is the better actor of our generation. Those who have seen the movie will instantly recollect the scene where his on-screen daughter calls him after a long period of time – without saying a word, he sets the screen on fire with just his subtle facial expressions. His earlier gratuitous “intolerance” remarks notwithstanding, here’s an actor who has graduated from his initial chocolate-hero days to mature into a complete cinematic experience, improving and improvising with every outing. The fact that he does just one movie a year (if at all) only adds to his aura. I have read some of the reviews of the movie written by international critics, and they are not so appreciative of the movie. Almost all of them rue the fact that the movie is superficial and is more of an entertainment for the masses. But we Indians are like this only – we watch movies for entertainment, and if we learn something in the process, it only adds to the value for money. Sure, the team has taken cinematic liberties with Mahavir Singh Phogat’s life-story, but it only makes it more dramatic viewing.

But what I found more interesting in the movie were the lessons that it conveys through some beautifully written scenes, the most important one being having focus in life. The male protagonist is ridiculed, harangued and even intimidated for his single-minded goal of grooming his daughters into becoming world-class wrestlers. In the predominantly male dominated India and Haryana’s extremely misogynist society, to have daughters participate (and win) in a manly sport like wrestling requires not just courage, but also steel-willed determination. Brushing aside the vociferous protests from his wife (no chicken in her kitchen), daughters (chopping off their locks) and the village elders (how can girls wrestle with boys), he concentrates all his energies on making his girls gold medal potentials in a sport that he loves and was once a champion in. But the highlight of the show was when the entire audience stood up when our national anthem was played. I am someone who gets goosebumps every time I hear our national anthem being played. Call me a “nationalist” if you want (I wonder how this became a vituperation for the “liberals”), but I am extremely proud of the country which gives me an identity in this world. We are still busy forwarding asinine jokes about demonetization, rather than looking optimistically towards the new year. This one move has magically transformed people who could not clear their economics paper in school into financial “experts”! If we do not like the current incumbent, we will get an opportunity in a couple of years, but till then let him do his job. Why do we still insist on staring at closed doors when we have so many little windows of opportunity open for us?

Making money can never be a goal and should not even be our focus in life. Long term goals in today’s fast-changing world is not feasible, but why not set short term goals in life? Like for me, the personal goal for the year is to try and complete (and publish) my first book, make more inroads in the field of music, and professionally to improve my technical capabilities. Also, on popular demand from my wife and daughter, want to be less addicted to my phone and social media, which seems difficult but not impossible. We all have a Mahavir Singh Phogat buried in us, it is only a matter of bringing him out and working towards our goal – the keyword in this effort being focus. Short-term goals are easier to achieve and if your focus is right, they cannot be broken like the resolutions we all make at the beginning of the new year. Rather than trying to be better than anyone else, but let our goal for this year be to better than we used to be!



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