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40 years of Sholay: Lessons for Corporate India from Amitabh Bachchan

If you are a superstar - your conduct should be like one

Dev Chatterjee  |  Mumbai 

Poster of Sholay

Indians may be divided over various issues but one thing which binds us all is the movie Sholay. You will seldom hear anyone saying a negative thing about Sholay -- which created ripples across India in 1975 – the year of Emergency. The movie's story line of good versus evil was captured so brilliantly with iconic songs and dance sequences that it became a blockbuster overnight – making superstars of its cast.

When I first met Amitabh Bachchan on his 50th birthday in Regal Room at Hotel Oberoi in Mumbai – it was like a dream come true. The birthday party was thrown by ABCL and the company invited who’s who of Mumbai. The venue was packed to capacity with almost every guest coming in with a Plus one.

Mr Bachchan came in two hours late but the moment he took the mike in his hand and apologized to everyone in his famous baritone – blaming the traffic for his delay - everything was forgotten.

Mr Bachchan then shook hands with almost every guest while taking couple of rounds of Regal Room, nearly causing a mini stampede. The movie Sholay had made a superhero of Bachchan, Dharmendra, Sanjeev Kumar and Amjad Khan and Mr Bachchan had become a household name with his performance. Not to forget the unforgettable performance of the leading ladies of the movie – Jaya Bachchan and Hema Malini.

Later, as ABCL started collapsing and creditors started queuing up at his residence, I was reporting in the Indian Express about his misfortune. Each and every word I was writing about ABCL’s collapse was with a heavy heart – especially when bankers threatened to auction his house. But as luck would have it, Mr Bachchan walked into Yash Chopra’s house and asked for work. He starred in Mohabbatein which was a big hit in the year 2000. Mr Bachchan also started working on Kaun Banega Crorepati – a quiz based TV serial which is still running on Indian TV channels. Mr Bachchan repaid every penny of his lenders and never looked back and I was gladly reporting on it.

I think there is a lesson for India Inc in this entire episode of Mr Bachchan’s repayment of loans. Do not disrespect the trust of the people. There are numerous examples of top corporate leaders not repaying loans taken from banks and even to fixed deposits holders. Many have gone to jail and many will in future also.

With Sholay, Mr Bachchan became a superstar, saw the worst with his diversification into business but repaid each and every penny of his lenders. If only every CEO takes lessons from him, the balance sheet of Indian banks would have been far cleaner.

If you are a superstar – your conduct should be like one.

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First Published: Thu, August 13 2015. 12:39 IST