Watched two Masala Bollywood movies, back-to-back this weekend. Only , these were made in Hollywood! 'Limitless' requires limitless patience and unlimited popcorn. I felt really bad for Robert de Niro - a great actor, reduced to playing dumb cameos. The second was 'Unknown' - such a gaanja film! Liam Neeson looked like Harrison Ford. Diane Krueger looked delicious. And countless Mercs got thrown off bridges into cold rivers for reasons that are just too idiotic to go into. From the paisa vasool, time pass point of view.... yup... no complaints. It was a toss up between this option and the IPL. I chose wisely!
This appeared in the Sunday Times yesterday....
What Manmohan Singh can learn from Dhoni and his Boys… My aandawala ,is a bent old man in his seventies with a serious heart condition. He is originally from Lucknow. Yes, he confesses tiredly, he’s a long way from home and longs to retire there someday. But he says with a philosophical shrug, he can’t think of it. Not at this stage of his life. Why can’t he? His two sons are doing well, his grand- children are healthy and happy, his wife is willing to look after him in his autumn years. So, what’s his excuse?He leans forward, looks over his shoulder surreptitiously and whispers, ‘Bhrashtachaar! I can’t handle it any more. Mumbai has its corruption. But Lucknow! Hadd ho gayi.” He seems resigned to the thought of spending the remaining years of his life cycling from building to building, delivering bread and eggs to his regular customers. Over the years, I have seen the bright gleam in his eyes reduced to a sad flicker when he says, “Purana zamana hi theek tha.” By that he means life under the British! The first time he said that, I wasn’t sure I’d heard right. So, he repeated it a few more times. And we left it at that.It’s a pretty damn depressing comment for any citizen of India to be making sixty three years on.But there it is. I met my aandawala ( Raeesmiya) the morning after our historic World Cup victory and asked him if he’d watched the match on tv. Indeed he had… his eyes were shining again. Just like old times. And?What did he think of the match? Dhoni? The team? He shut his eyes and exclaimed, “If only Manmohan saab could learn from these jawaan boys! Just look at how they have enhanced our desh ki shaan. Wah! Allah ki dua!” After a brief, euphoric chat, he picked up his heavy basket and left. His eyes were still shining. Well… countless eyes were shining for at least a week after Dhoni lifted the magnificent Cup … along with the spirits of a disillusioned and angry nation. Comparisions and conclusions between our Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh and our cricket captain, were inevitable. It was all about effective leadership and leading from the front. Something poor Manmohan Singh has never been able to do ( his hands and feet being tied). Sachin ( the Legend of Legends), called Dhoni the best captain he’d played under. That is a huge compliment coming from the Master Blaster. In the political context,can Pranab Babu say that in all honesty about our P.M. ? One wonders what Manmohan Singh’s takeaway was from the final game against worthy opponents, Sri Lanka. Surely he must have noticed a few of the bold, unconventional, individualistic and risky decisions taken by Dhoni ( changing the batting order, being just one of them)? And surely, he must have applauded the manner in which the entire team played as a tightly knit, well oiled winning machine, supporting one another’s strengths, covering up weaknesses, all the way? How did Dhoni do it? Not by waving a magic wand. Not through bull dozing and badgering. And certainly not by looking the other way when his Boys were tripping up or losing heart. Everybody agrees only Dhoni could have pulled it off. And as convincingly, too. Because Dhoni has shown over and over again that he plays with a straight bat. Simple. And expects the same from his team. Dhoni also doesn’t play favourites and treats every player with the same respect. Dhoni is smart enough to realize he doesn’t have all the answers and seeks the guidance of seniors, even juniors, besides listening attentively to the team manager. Dhoni audaciously puts himself on the line when he has to ( Sreesanth!) and takes his chances when he needs to ( making Sachin bowl). He’s a man with his own mind and speaks it ( no mincing words, not even about his earlier lackluster performances). He has licked what was considered a good team into a world class one through strategic planning and total commitment. This spectacular win was no fluke. The first people to admit as much are his critics, and they do so ungrudgingly. There is much to learn from Dhoni. And if Manmohan Singh keeps his eyes, ears and heart open, it’s still not too late to start reversing the damage done to a bruised nation. A leader who’s good at his job, instinctively realizes when to push ahead and when to back off. A leader also knows whom to give credit to… in Dhoni’s case, that one person was clearly Sachin, but he made sure all the other key players in India’s win ( Gautam, Virat, Zaheer and of course, Yuvraj) were duly acknowledged, as was every player in the team. Dhoni demonstrated admirable restraint ( that’s one powerful trait he shares with the prime minister) all through the dramatic season.Perhaps, that’s the key common attribute that Manmohan Singh should capitalise on and adopt - Dhoni’s Mr. Cool attitude. No matter what the provocation. Tough, but achievable. Team India has shown the world what it’s capable of on the cricket field. It’s high time the other Team India scores a similar victory in the global arena. Come on, Manmohan Singh – go for it! If all else fails, induct Dhoni into your cabinet! For all our sakes.