Padmavaat : Lessons on Organization Behaviour & HR Policies

padmavati posters

Those who have watched the movie 12 Angry Men during HR classes (and have fallen asleep – I confess I have every time and remember only bits and pieces of the movie), Padmavaat with one barbaric man Khilji may have more fodder for entertainment, learning and elements to keep your eyes open! My take on Organizational Behavior and this movie is a pure work of fiction and coincidental pointing to any person, organization or place or whatever it may be is absolutely unintentional.

Well! I do have a habit of muttering something under my breath while watching a movie and then giggling with my movie partner for the next few minutes. We have often got strict glares from those seated beside us, but somehow some things don’t deter us from having fun in our own way! Listing down our thoughts (and building on the same), just for gags!

10 lessons on OB and HR Policies from the movie Padmavaat, popularly still known as Padmavati

  1. Rigidity of HR policies: Just like every organization has a HR policy and different levels of rigidity, Mewar had a list of “usools” which could never be compromised on! Even when the enemy uses unethical ways during the battle and your life, wife and kingdom is at stake. Usools are usools, like your kinky promise, cannot be broken!
  2. Employee Engagement: Khilji firmly believed in employee engagement! “Kushti” tournament or wrestling tournament was introduced to prevent the soldiers from getting bored! I mean, really???
  3. Motivational speeches: are extremely important. Khilji did a great job in convincing his soldiers to stay back in the scorching heat of a Rajasthani summer, but Padmavati stole the show.
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    Padmavati after deciding on jauhar

    She motivated women of all ages, expecting mothers and young children to jump into a burning pyre. I would have never done it, brutal and ruthless enemy or not, yet I have to factor in the era and social fabric of that time, so I cannot comment.

  4. Leading by example: Padmavati led her troop with pride and set such an example that nobody faltered, be it at war or at death. And it is not just the movie, all tales of Rani Padmini echo the same story of a brave battle fought and communal jauhar.
  5. Loyalty to the organization: Well this is directly proportional to how well the organization takes care of you! You can read all the hints of sarcasm you wish to in the previous sentence. Malik Gafur was loyal to Khilji, and went out of the war strategy usool way to protect his king.                                                                 Padmini’s followers were devoted to her beauty, wisdom and courage and followed suite to kill themselves. Ratan Singh’s minister had chosen a death of glory and wanted to fight for his kingdom. Loyalty can move boulders which otherwise cannot, are organizations listening?
  6. Open door policy: Well the new age organizations following this and are doing pretty well, the likes of Flipkart etc. Khilji paid a lot of attention to what his minister had to say about his army, motivated them, kept them engaged etc. Ratan Singh, on the other hand, was exactly the opposite. He did not care if there were less food resources and the enemy had surrounded the fort and it was getting difficult for his people.
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    Padmavati scene when Rana Ratan Singh is ready for battle

    He never paid heed to what Padmavati said either – he could have definitely saved his life that way.

  7. Strategy & Planning to attain visionary goals: The organization must strive to make it bigger and better. Khilji had the vision. From usurping his uncle’s throne to expanding his empire, his dynasty definitely has created history, ethically or unethically. I don’t think any other emperor of the Khilji dynasty did as great a job or are remembered today – for right or wrong reasons! Strategy & Planning is extremely crucial. The organization must have a vision and a dynamic strategy to achieve the goals based on changing market conditions and unforeseen external factors (read recession or slowdown). Khilji removed his soldiers from Chittor and changed his strategy after waiting outside the fort for 2 months. It worked for him, Padmavati or no Padmavati. He won the battle unethically but yet had a strategy in mind. You cannot just walk in to your enemy camp without weapons assuming they will treat you well. It’s equivalent of walking into a sales pitch with no business numbers in mind just because the competing vendor told you that they don’t have their presentation ready. Duh!
  8. People’s Leader: The organizational hierarchy must be approachable. Khali Bali – what was Bansali thinking when he included that song? This was the only element I did not like in the movie. The only sane explanation I can come across is to show Khilji as a people’s sultan. If you come up with a better explanation, type away at the comment box below!
  9. Perks & Incentives: Jalaluddin Khilji would have not lost his life is he had allowed Alauddin to keep the precious stone he wanted. The entire loot of Devagiri was for the Khilji dynasty. Instead, he gifted Alauddin a slave. Compensation and benefits were always important, and is important even today!
  10. Data Security: Last but definitely not the least, all employees must not have access to confidential information. If Ratan Singh would have kept the Rajguru or priest away from his beautiful and intellectual queen, or taken care of his employee well, the seeds of revenge would not have been sown.If you wonder why a bag check happens and pendrives and CD’s are not allowed, don’t blame the poor guards! They have been instructed to do so! But how will they wipe our grey cells out?

Read Padmavat or Padmavati Movie Review to see my thoughts on the movie. For those who still don’t know about Rani Padmini : click on Padmavati: recreating history to get more info!

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Padmavaat Movie Review

 

Rating : 4.2/5

Let me clarify at the beginning itself. PADMAVAAT is a brilliant movie, no two ways about it. However, the long wait, all the controversy and the saga that revolved around it just set our anticipation levels much higher. While Ranveer Singh’s acting surpassed expectations, the movie has not garnered the great reviews it should have received. Probably, this is because most people know the story about Rani Padmini and there was no major twist in the story, no surprises and no new elements. Critics, please note that there has already been enough hue and cries regarding “distorting history”, so the story line cannot be changed to entertain. Secondly, it is a periodic drama, folklore of yesteryear’s and the elite those days lived in such royal grandeur and opulence. For someone who has been following Sanjay Leela Bansali’s movies for a while now may find the sets similar, let me remind you they are still very different. Each of the rulers, be it Akbar or Peshawar Bajirao, had a different style of architecture influenced by their origin and surroundings. And that has been maintained. Creating these sets involve a lot of time, money and effort and only then it looks stunning on the wide screen. Introduction of belly dancing showing the Afghan and Turkish regions, gives it the local flavour.

For those who blindly believe religious leaders, I am sure you know by now that PADMAVATI glorifies Rajput culture and their ethical value system and nothing is derogatory in the movie. I strongly condemn the vandalism involved in this country being a Hindu myself, especially the attacks on the sets, threats to the producer and actress and ATTACKING SCHOOL BUS WITH YOUNG AND INNOCENT CHILDREN. For the uninitiated, the sets were damaged and the actress Deepika Padukone was threatened that her nose will be cut to shame her while Sanjay Leela Bansali had received a life threat from a local fringe activist group.

 

Coming back to the movie, Ranveer Singh steals the show, curtains down. I am sure Allauddin Khilji would be squirming in his grave if he had seen the movie. The man was known to be brutal and ruthless, but Ranveer Singh has beautifully depicted the character. He deserves a BIG salute.

 

Deepika Padukone, the movie is all about her character, Padmavati. And she has done an exceptional job. A beauty with brains, her dialogue delivery to poise to costume to elegance – she has once again proved that she means business. I had the opportunity to meet the actress once when she was still a student, way back in 2004, and I am amazed at the transformation and with each movie I feel she has gracefully evolved. She has done justice to this role. Though overshadowed by hear alleged beau Ranveer, the movie cannot be reviewed without mentioning her stellar performance.

 

Shahid Kapoor, Rana Rawal Singh of Mewar, bow to your usools and values. While much has been spoken about the usools and how certain unethical practices were followed which made him lose the war, it is this “usool” that distinguishes not just him, but all true Rajputs and the clan. Calm, poised and strong, I wish he could ooze out some more personality to have more followers for his “gentleman” character.

 

I also must mention and appreciate the character of Khilji’s wife, Mehrunissa, it requires a lot of courage and strength to rebel against a conquerer like Khilji. Also, it is turmoil of emotions to see your husband lust for power and kill your father to ascend the throne. Women share very little screen space in this movie. Yet, all the women here are strong and ethical and are an epitome of courage. This includes the mother of the brave soldier who lost his life in war. The lady who said she will not be submissive to the invaders and die a death of valour and honour instead, to the lady help of the older queen who rushed to greet Rani Padmini when she fought the battle of wits and rescued her husband, disobeying the orders of the elder queen.

Direction and screenplay – well weaved and crafted. There are no missing links, small incidents and dialogues add so much to understanding the character. There are certain insinuations about Khilji’s orientations very subtly introduced without making it obvious or vulgar. Those who are aware about historians speculating his relationship with Malik Gafur can easily guess.

Like all Sanjay Leela Bhansali movies, Padmavaat is also a theatre watch. The magnificent palace and forts, and the battles and wars and yes, the exquisite costumes and jewellery can wowww you only if you are viewing this in a big screen with great sound effects. The script and dialogue delivery also score really high. The dialogue, “Rajputi kangan mein bhi utna hi takat hai jitna Rajputi talwar me hai” depicts immense strength and bravery.

Food for thought is that over the years, women have been looked down upon by the male dominated society. This movie emphasizes on the strength of character of a woman, her beauty, charm and intelligence. It also shows the love and respect for her husband and the levels to which one can go to save their chastity. It is a movie which spells out true valour and courage. Let me clarify that I do not promote jauhar in any way and in today’s date no one should practice the same. Yet, Padmavati was right when she said that Khilji may win the battle but would still be defeated since his ultimate objective would not be met.

The “usools” of not attacking someone who is wounded or unarmed, fighting your own battles ethically without involving innocent people are ethics which are good to follow even today. Although many claim that the whole saga would not have happened if the sage had not tried to peep when he wasn’t supposed to, and if he wasn’t banned from the country – the fact remains that wrong doings need to be punished to maintain law and order in the system.

 

For those who do not know the story, Rani Padmini was the princess of Singhal and well versed with archery. She is believed to be the most beautiful princess of her times. It was difficult to ascertain if she was crafted more with beauty, intelligence or bravery. She was married to Maharaja Ratan Singh of Mewar, one of the famous Rajput kings of that era. When the Khilji’s invaded India and were conquering kingdoms to expand their span, he got to know about the beauty of the queen and wanted catch a glimpse of her. The Rajputs, protective of their clan, would not hear of it. Khilji extended an invite to meet the King and his kith and kin, but when that was declined he decided rage war. Unable to penetrate through the strong walls of the Chittor fort, Khilji wanted to befriend the Rajput king. At the palace, Khilji requested to meet the Queen but the princess was shown to him only for a few seconds. She was the most beautiful of them all, like everyone claimed, and he began to lust her. Khilji played a trick on the King and captured the Ratan Singh on the pretext of inviting him as a guest. The condition laid was that he would release the King only when the Queen would meet Khilji.

Upon hearing this, Rani Padmini intelligently agreed to meet Khilji but said that she would meet him with all her maids and only after the King is released. Rani Padmini, on whom the story of Padmavati is based, chose the finest of soldiers to be seated in the palanquin that led to the Emperor of the Delhi Sultanate. Once the palenquins had entered the fort, her soldiers’ valiantly fought the enemies while she rescued her beloved husband. Outraged, Khilji attacked Mewar. None of the Rajput clans wanted to make enmity with Khilji and refused to help Ratan Singh. In the battle that ensued, Ratan Singh was defeated by Khilji by treachery. However, by the time Khiljji and his men reached the fort, all women of Chittor had jumped into a huge pyre and ended their life to maintain chastity and not be savaged by the invaders. And the rest, as they say is history.

There are some Sanjay Leela Bansali special moments. The last sentence spoken by Rana Ratan Singh to Padmavati, “Mere jaane ka waqt aa gaya hai”, the pun intended. And when Padmavati sought permission for jauhar, knowing that this battle was futile. Yet knowing, that this battle was necessary, not because of an ego clash, but because it was right. A sentence is enough to read the person’s mind and fears and intentions. The way Khilji plays chess with Ratan Singh and tells him that the queen is in danger are much thought provoking scenes.

The kesar rang has worked for Rani Padmavati in the battlefield and for Sanjay Leela Bansali in the box office! I wouldn’t be surprised if the movie bags quite a few awards as well!

What’s history and what isn’t?

You can read about the historical aberrations of Rani Padmini’s story and ponder about the figments of imagination here!  I would love to know what you think about the movie. Please do share your comments below!

 

 

 

 

 

Padmavati: recreating history!

Sanjay Leela Bhansali film Padmavati starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor is going through enough turmoil before its release! But who is Rani Padmini or Padmavati?

Padmavati Movie Review : click on this link to read

For the uninitiated, after several protests and destroying of theaters and a lot of chaos, the actress has been threatened. A community called Karni Sena wants to chop off Deepika’s nose (Surpanakha style) and have also warned her about an acid attack (how could they?) citing their demands about the story of this Rajput Queen.

The legendary Queen Rani Padmini, is believed to be the most beautiful, intelligent and bravest woman of her times. The movie Padmavati is based on her life. Some say that Rani Padmini is a fictitious character and she was mentioned in an epic, while others claim that she was the Queen of Chittorgarh, now in Rajasthan, India married to King Ratan Sen.

Here’s the official trailer of the movie, a window which throws some light to the Queen of that era.

It was during these times, 13th-14th century that the Indian subcontinent was conquered by the Muslim rulers. Alauddin Khilji, Sultan of Delhi, one such power hungry invader attacked the different kingdoms to find his empire. He and other rulers succeeded only because the different Rajput clans were not united among themselves and were prey to invasion. Wars, those days, not only took the life of the soldiers, but also the wives of the brave who died in battle. Once the kingdom was seized, the women were ill treated and taken hostage by the victorious kings.

The Rajput women, even today are known for their valor and dignity. The men are known to protect the ladies of the family. This clan and its descendants are known to stick to their words and promises, fight till death to protect their land and families and respect people, especially elders. They follow age old traditions and rituals and praise those who die a death of dignity and honor. Rani Padmini, along with several other women are worshiped even today because they chose to burn themselves to death (jauhar) than falling prey to the enemies and losing their chastity.

News about Rani Padmini’s unsurpassed beauty had reached many lands. Allauddin Khilji, wanted to see the unparallel beauty of this queen and was allowed to see her reflection in a mirror. Again, this story is debatable because many say there were no mirrors at that time and the Rajputs would die before allowing a Muslim ruler to see a beautiful Hindu Queen. Mesmerized by her beauty, Khilji attacked Chittor and kidnapped Ratan Sen since he lusted the queen.

Rani Padmini, on listening to the news of her husband’s abduction, sent a message saying she would like to meet her husband along with seven hundred maids before surrendering herself to Khilji. Khilji accepted the offer. Back in that era, the women would always travel in closed palanquins. And the brave queen decided to choose 700 of her kingdom’s finest soldiers and hide them in the palanquins. A battle broke out when Rani Padmini went to meet her husband, and by using her wits she managed to bring him back home. Needless to say, this infuriated Khilji.

After this Ratan Sen was killed. Again a controversial bit, some assume that he was killed by Khilji while other historians claim that the King of Kumbhalner, also enamored by the beauty of the Rani Padmini had killed Ratan Sen. Waiting to see which version the movie, an adaption to the story, chooses to present!

The brave Rani Padmini, would never bow to her enemies and submit herself. She chose to light a pyre and jump into the fire, this tradition is called jauhar. Her act of immolation and her bravery is also spoken about along with her beauty. Several other women of this kingdom followed suite so that they can die a death of dignity. The enemies, did not find a single woman in the castle.

Rani Padmini is a very popular legend and several television shows, plays and novels have been created to depict her story. Rani Padmini, would create history again with the release of the movie Padmavati! The songs of the movie, the costume and the battle with the censor board has created a lot of hype about the movie already. The mass is anticipating its release on the 1st of December, 2017 with fingers crossed so that the release date does not get postponed.

Arnab Goswami, a journalist has been lucky to get a sneak peak of the movie already and this is what he has to say:  He seems to have given a thumbs up for the release!

I am as eager to watch the movie as the entire country is! Something tells me this is going to be Bollywood’s next block buster! Sanjay Leela Bhansali definitely recreates the era with wonderful sets. Deepika looks gorgeous as ever. The costumes and the jewelry steal the hearts of all women who fancy Indian ethnic wear.  I will be writing my afterthoughts – stay tuned for more!

Here’s a popular song Ghoomar from the movie Padmavati for you to watch till the movie is released!

Here’s the linkto the review:

Padmavat or Padmavati Movie Review

Review – Toilet Ek Prem Katha

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Toilet Ek Prem Katha – The love story which flushes the mindset of superstitious people!

For those who want to catch a quick glimpse of the trailer before reading my thoughts on this – here is the link! Trailer – Bollywood movie Toilet Ek Prem Katha !

The urban middle class women sitting in PVR Gold Class cannot imagine carrying a lota and walking a couple of kilometres every day morning to defecate. Gather, gossip and finish your business! The Lota Party is probably the primitive version of the modern day Kitty Parties! But yes, this system still prevails in remote parts of the country. The system of lowering the ghunghat (piece of cloth covering your head and face) also exists, in the not so remote parts of the country. Eating at the daughter’s sasural (in-law’s home) is still considered a taboo by many.

Toilet Ek Prem Katha has depicted the lifestyle of many in a very subtle manner. I liked the attention to small details, certain customs are called out without the shout-out-loud boards. Even the modern day educated women are expected to wear saris/Indian wear in their sasural, even if they are not accustomed to the same during their college life. Many women I know find this difficult – change of avatars in the presence of orthodox family members – and Jaya was expected to compromise (as always, the expectations are from the bearers of the XY chromosome) on the luxury (read with sarcasm) of having a toilet within the house!

Toilet Ek Prem Katha is a movie about changing mindsets!

It shows how people gradually evolve! How thoughts and ideals change given the circumstances! It is a contrast of characters! Let me explain.

Jaya always found it strange that women beat their husbands on the occasion of Holi! Once married, she did not spare the rod! She came back with a bottle of Dettol in hand, there is no doubt that she loves her husband, but she is rigid about her demand. Though Keshav is heart-broken, she refuses to return to her sasural devoid of a toilet. The emotional turmoil which Jaya was going through was very beautifully portrayed.

Keshav initially found it silly that Jaya made a fuss about joining the Lota Party! But he eventually realized its importance! And advocated for the movement. He also mentions, that people do not understand the magnitude of a problem unless they face it. So true!

Keshav’s father thinks that one cannot have a toilet in the angaan,which is used to worship the Tulsi, till almost the end of the movie. But he gave in, when his aged mother falls from the stairs and gets an urgent call from nature. Mothers are always forgiven, but daughter in laws are not forgiven easily. Sigh!

Toilet Ek Prem Katha is about the nature of different people!

Superstitious people believe that marrying a cow will help the manglik. The Sarpanch manipulates the villagers to believe that a toilet cannot be constructed in the premises of your home but changes his stance eventually when the government obliges! The politician who blames the people for not using the toilet instead of focusing on the scams and finding out where the tax payers money has disappeared.

Toilet Ek Prem Katha is a contrast of characters. 

A superstitious set of parents versus modern and liberal family members. Corrupt officials versus politicians who empathize with the people. Lazy and corrupt government officials versus an efficient minister. Docile housewives versus a strong independent woman who finds a solution to her problems.

Toilet Ek Prem Katha addresses basic hygiene issues.

A statement as simple as washing your hands after going to the loo! Using clean sanitized toilets! Oh wait! That is too far-fetched. Using a toilet instead of the open field!

I liked the way the movie urges people to accept and embrace changes instead of being rigid! It is always a fight with the mindset of the people. True that. The witty dialogues tickle your funny bones throughout the movie! Overall, I think it is a good watch.

4/5 is a well deserved rating.

Click here to read about my thoughts on the movie Lipstick Under My Burkha.

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Lipstick under my burkha – my two cents on the movie

So what’s all the hullabaloo about?

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The story of ‘Lipstick under my Burkha’ revolves around four women, each fighting their own battles against age old social stigma that governs this patriarchal society. Their wants are simple. They want their right to freedom. They want to live the life they want, the freedom to do what they desire without being fettered by the shackles of expectations that come with the XX chromosome. The narrative questions the practice of giving authority to the men to decide what their wife or girlfriend or daughter or buaji (paternal aunt, a motherly figure) should do. Why are women still being shunned by the man in the house (or in their lives) for their fantasies and desires? Why is the daughter reared to be married? Why is the wife treated as an object or a doormat?

The movie has already bagged eleven international awards prior to its release. It was screened at the Mumbai Film Festival and also the Tokyo Film Festival, where it won the Oxfam Award for Best Film in Gender Equality as well as the Spirit of Asia Prize respectively. Directed by Alankrita Shrivastava and produced by Prakash Jha, this movie was released in India on the 21st of July after a lot of fight against the Central Board of Film Certification. The colorful lipstick rebellion campaign which was launched as a protest grabbed a lot of eyeballs on social media. Not only did the four protagonists of the movie put their foot down and raise their fingers against this injustice, but also did they receive tremendous support from other actresses who believe in woman empowerment.

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A mask, sometimes in the form of a burkha, sometimes in the form of an aanchal or sometimes an invisible piece of fabric is used by most women to hide their troubles, pain, woes and even fantasies. This mask has nothing to do with region or religion, nothing to do with age or ethnicity. This mask is a result of the continuous oppression they have faced with time and urges them to rebel. And so they do, but hide it in the fear of accepted taboos and social norms. Alankrita Shrivastava has highlighted these social issues with a bold red color lipstick. And it was this boldness that had stirred the censor board.

The crux of the movie is the issues women in our country still face.

  • No consideration being given to what the woman wants – the man of the house is the decision maker.
  • And of course, there is this imaginary rule book which mentions details on how you need to sit, stand, walk on the road, dance in a wedding, behave! Blah! blah!!
  • A woman cannot choose her attire! Come out of the stone age, will you?
  • The education given to a woman is namesake, she is expected to help in household chores or in earning that extra buck. The degree is just a criterion for finding the most eligible boy in the community.
  • The woman CANNOT choose whom she wishes to marry. Well, the worst part is that the women who have got away with this one obstacle, have few more boulders being hurdled their way because the mother-in-law may not approve of a woman who has chosen her own husband. Sigh!
  • A woman needs to seek permission from her husband to go to work. How preposterous! But yes, very relevant even among the educated lot.
  • The woman being treated only as an object to give pleasure. Her wants and desires have zero value. Most of these complaints remain confined behind the closed bedroom doors.
  • A woman cannot express her desires. It is a shame! Pun intended.
  • The woman has the sole responsibility of bringing up the child more often than not. It is not the husband’s responsibility to take care of the daily rituals. Says who?
  • A widow cannot re-marry. But of course, the widower can! I thought sati was abolished for a reason – the woman had the right to live, and not count days of sheer existence.

This movie brings out a can of worms which exist in the world’s largest democracy. The so called ‘fundamental rights’ – Right to Equality and Right to Freedom seem to be mere page-fillers in the Indian Constitution.

Oh so-called-educated men in our society! When will you accept the fact that women are as human as you? May be not as physically strong, but women can equal your wits. Women have a mind of their own which can think as well. They want to choose the express their opinions, have a say on when and whom to marry. They want to be ready to have a child because it is a life-long responsibility before being forced into it, decide how many children and say NO when they have had enough.They are capable of earning a living, they can fend for themselves. They too have innate desires. They do not announce their feelings, but that does not mean they are incapable of feeling.

Can the Swacch Bharath Abhiyaan cleanse the mindset of the people?

The satire mocks the ‘system in place’, especially so in small towns. The story weaves relationship issues and the problems of a common woman which is very much prevalent in today’s society. A striking contrast of characters leaves a lot to ponder. A must watch for those who believe in woman empowerment!

Don’t forget to mention what changes you want to bring in society so that millions of women can fulfill their ‘lipstick wale sapne.’