Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How to be a 'yahoo' in life

Here's the link to a column I wrote published on rediff.com today.

Because Shammi Kapoor was a true blue original and that's something each of has the potential to be, whoever we are, whatever we do in life!

For those who prefer regular format to slideshow, here it is below.

How to be a 'yahoo' in life
-Rashmi Bansal

Shammi Kapoor died in his sleep on 14 August 2011, 04:30 am IST, at the the of 79. More than 40 years after he last played out his junglee days. The light hearted romantic hero of numerous hit films.

Yet, there was an outpouring of grief on social network sites. As his mortal remains were taken for cremation, the streets were lined with ordinary people, Koli fishermen played the song 'Yahoo!' in one last, boisterous, celebratory farewell.

All this, because Shammi Kapoor was a symbol of life, of zest, of joy.

Imagine any other person, say a businessman, who ran a very successful company for say, 10 years. And then, failed and shut shop. Which is kind of what happened to the jovial Shamsher Raj Kapoor.

By 1970, he was edged out Rajesh Khanna, the new, chikna romantic hero. But more than that, it was Shammi's own (lost) battle with weight which proved to be his downfall.

He did try directing films. But unlike brother Raj Kapoor, he did not succeed in that arena. The hero now played supporting actor roles, and over time pretty much retired from the public eye.

And yet, like I said, he left such an imprint in the minds and hearts of generations of Indians. That 40 years later, we woke up and cried to hear he was gone.

I think that is so beautiful and rare, and something we all should take note of.

Are we bringing joy to the lives of the people we touch everyday?

Because that is all that really matters.

Are we being original and true to ourselves?

Because that is all that is needed.

We can't all be actors, but we can learn from the life of Shammi Kapoor. The one and only way to be truly successful is to create your own brand. Like he did.

Creating the Cult

Shammi Kapoor entered the industry at age 17, as a junior artiste, at a salary of Rs. 50 per month. He made his debut in Bollywood in the year 1953, in the film Jeevan Jyoti.

As the son of Prithviraj Kapoor and brother of Raj Kapoor, getting into the movies came easily. Getting into the hearts of the audience was quite another matter. Shammi was stuck in uninspiring roles, wearing silly wigs and melodramatic expressions.

What's worse, critics wrote him off as a copycat. Years later he recalled how a review of his second picture Rail ka Dibba said: 'Shammi Kapoor apes Raj Kapoor'.

"It hurt a lot because I didn't understand what it meant to ape somebody because I wasn't aping. I came from the same school of acting. We were from the same stage and had done the same roles. But it made me realise that it was going to be tough."

In 1955, Shammi married Geeta Bali, a popular star of that era.

"I was in even deeper trouble. Then I was no longer only the son of Prithviraj Kapoor, and brother of Raj Kapoor, but I was also the husband of Geeta Bali. That's three-to-one. It gave me a challenge, an incentive to go out there and prove myself."

Apparently, at one point, Shammi Kapoor even considered giving up films and finding a job as a manager on a tea plantation in Assam. It was Geeta Bali who persuaded him to stick it out.

The turning point came when Filmistan gave writer Nasir Hussain a break as director, with Tumsa Nahin Dekha, The problem was Dev Anand was not available, Neither was Sunil Dutt.

Sashadhar Mukherjee, co-owner of Filmistan told Nasir Hussain, 'Try this lad. Let's see how it works out. I see some greatness in him.'

Shammi could never be sure what that greatness was, but the fact that *someone* believed in him inspired him.

"I had nothing to lose, so I went all out, changed my image, shaved off my moustache, got myself a crew cut, and there grew the yahoo image."

The rest is history.

Why did it work?

Because it was different, and captured the imagination of people. Nasreen Munni Kabir is a film journalist who's written the chapter on Shammi for an upcoming book titled 'Bollywood's Top 20: Superstars of Indian Cinema'. She notes:

When Tumsa Nahin Dekha was released in 1957, cast opposite Ameeta, Shammi Kapoor impressed with his intuitive and fresh acting, playful edge and great physical agility, which involved jumping, leaping and general cavorting.

Most importantly, he exuded an unabashed and irresistible sexuality that was far from the prudish heroes of the time… With his dreamy eyes, soft voice, charming dialogue delivery and arresting personality, Shammi radiated the raw appeal of an Elvis Presley -- especially evident when performing the songs.

Success then, was a mix of destiny and design. Established heroes not being available, Nasir Hussain being a debut director open to new ideas - these were the elements of destiny.

Design was the careful crafting of a new image. A more Westernised, free-wheeling 'rebel' star. Of course this only worked because it was not 'put on'. Shammi was just being his natural, exuberant self.

A man who dances to the tune of his heart must create the steps to go along with it. And that, is literally what Shammi Kapoor did.

As he once said in an interview, "My dancing was entirely extempore. I never knew what my next step would be. Sometimes, if I had to give a second take, my steps would be different. I couldn't do the same thing again. I had, within me, a dormant, incredible energy that was screaming out for expression, and, luckily, my directors agreed to let me do what I wanted."

Tap your own dormant energy, express yourself fully and honestly.

It is bound to work.

Finding your own rhythm

Shammi Kapoor found 'success' after four years of struggle and 19 flops. That's how life treats most of us. The important thing is to retain hope. To build self-awareness. And seize your moment, when it presents itself (as it must!)

Working in a large company, you may have a chance to work on an exciting loosely defined new project. Take it!

Tired of bureaucracy and bossy management, you may have a chance to partner your college buddy in a start-up. Give it a shot!

Struggling for a break as a writer/ musician/ graphic artist, you decide to 'self publish' and market your own creation. Give it all you've got!

Nasir Hussain and Shammi Kapoor went on to make dozens of hit films together. The first success opens doors to fields of golden opportunity, beyond your wildest imagination. But the burden of creating that success rests solely on your shoulders.

On your judgement, your inner compass of intuition.


Wellwishers will advise you ki aisa karo, this is what the market wants. The truth is, nobody knows what they want. The real needs of people are unspoken, unfelt. But when you tap into those needs, they embrace you with a fierce loyalty and enthusiasm.

Shammi slithered down the snow covered valleys of Kashmir with a light disdain of parental authority and conventional behaviour. He struck just the right chord.

Employ the same principle, and create the product or service, song or book, that everybody (secretly) wants. People will flock to you, like bees towards honey.

Create a revolution, your own Ramlila maidan.

Friday, August 26, 2011

I pledge to end vocational corruption

The entire country is gripped with anti-corruption fever.

Many are taking a personal pledge to neither give nor take bribes, which is wonderful.

But is that the only form of corruption in our society? If we expect our public life and public servants to be honourable, fair, just and honest what about other aspects of our lives?

What Anna stands for is the highest moral standard, applied to everything you do and say. To do what is right, versus what is convenient.

Because each individual’s actions and intentions create the goodness of society a as a whole.

It is in this spirit that I have formulated a series of pledges for people belonging to different professions. If you really feel strongly about ending corruption in this country, silently make your commitment. To create that brave new world.

Chartered Accountants

I pledge to truthfully and faithfully conduct audits, refusing to overlook and sign off on discrepancies.

I pledge to ask my clients to pay the correct amount of tax rather than asking them how much tax they want to pay and working backwards.

I pledge not to employ my young colleagues doing articleship for the sole purpose of generating fake expense vouchers.


I pledge to truthfully and faithfully examine patients, refusing to send them for unnecessary tests and surgical procedures.

I pledge to prescribe the correct and lowest priced medicine required, not the brand of a pharmaceutical company which offers me junkets and incentives.

I pledge to give receipts to patients for fees paid to me instead of operating in ‘cash’.

Marketers & Advertisers

I pledge to truthfully and faithfully sell products which live up to their claims.

I pledge that I will not play on the fears and insecurities of people by bombarding them with messages which make them feel old, ugly, unhealthy or unloved.
I pledge that I will not digitally enhance the hair, face and bodies of film stars and models to my products look better

Stock market experts

I pledge to truthfully and faithfully state whether I have made money using my own tips given to various television business channels.

I pledge to be a true expert by asking tough questions to company management and promoters.

I pledge to disclose all my personal investments in the stock market, before offering my ‘unbiased’ advice.


I pledge to truthfully and faithfully report the news, without fear or favour

I pledge to not publish or broadcast paid news, or advertisements disguised as news.

I pledge that I will not suppress news, on the request or behest of any person/ persons.

The list of professions is long, I leave it to the readers to formulate the pledge necessary for their own line of work. You are welcome to add such pledges in the comments section :)

But here is one final pledge for all corporate fatcats:

I pledge to truthfully and faithfully work towards not just the bottomline of my company, but the health and happiness of society as a whole.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Startup of the month

Lots of you write in to me saying 'I want you to feature me in your book someday'. Well, someday is in the future. Meanwhile let me support you by choosing one entrepreneur every month who I find interesting, energetic, fresh & promising.

So nominate yourself by posting a few lines here abt who you are and what you do, what makes your product or service unique. The person I select gets featured here as well as on my Facebook fanpage.

Please be clear, concise in writing about yourself. Don't hardsell, but don't be too shy either. And remember, even if you don't get selected, this is a form of 'free advertising'!)

*Drumrollll* Let the nominations begin!

Monday, August 22, 2011

I am guilty

dear Blog & dear Readers

I am guilty. Guilty of neglecting you both.

There is a lot I want to write and say. Earlier I would right away come to this space and express myself. Now, thoughts and feelings get an immediate outlet on Facebook and Twitter.

But while I love these mediums, there is nothing as satisfying for a writer as putting together a thoughtful, well-researched blogpost.

I promise to rededicate myself to such writing, at least once a week.

Hope you all continue reading and sharing your feedback!

And now, for some news & announcements:

1) My book 'Connect the Dots' has been nominated for the Vodafone Crossword Book awards in the 'Popular' category. if you liked it, you can vote for it using this link:


2) I invite you to connect wih me on Facebook at www.facebookcom/rashmibansal. That way you will get regular updates of all events I am doing.

The next one coming up is the reading from 'I have a dream' at Reliance Time Out, Korum Mall, Thane (W) on Wed Aug 24 @ 630 pm

3) Lastly, this blog template is really very old and outdated. Somehow I find it familiar and comforting but realize it's time to change and upgrade. So I'm looking for one of you (maybe a student web designer/ small start up) to take on the challenge.

Email me as always at rashmi_b at yahoo.com with brief cv and 3 things you think need to be done right away @ Youthcurry and we will take it forward.

And remember, while this is a paid project I am looking for people who want to do it more out of passion than for money alone.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Har ek friend zaroori hota hai

After a loooong time, I caught an ad on TV which truly captures the spirit of youth today. Airtel's 'Har ek friend zaroori hota hai'.

This is the Facebook generation, where you can have 500 'friends'. Cynics wonder *how* can anyone have 500 friends. The truth is, you can. This isn't the ''yeh dosti hum nahin todenge' kind of friendship. This is an acquaintance of casual utility, every kind of friend can have his/her role.

Jaise chai ke liye toast hota hai
Waise har ek friend zaroori hota hai.

The early morning friend, the late night savior, the guy who throws his house open, the guys who always pile on. The ones who borrow money from you, the ones who pay for you - the list is endless.

The line I liked best of all:

Ek ghadi ghadi kaam aaye, kabhi kabhi call kare
Ek kabhi kabhi kaam aaye aur ghadi ghadi call kare

Don't we all know someone like that!

In short, it is a brilliant piece of work which is definitely going to catch on. The ad airing on TV is shorter while Youtube has the extended version (another great idea!). The Youtube video also features lyrics in sub-titles (TV version should do that too!)

Google does not reveal who's composed the song and lyrics, or the agency behind the idea. But I surmise it is the effortless genius of Taproot, which is rumoured to be the new creative agency for Airtel.

Taproot is an independent creative agency headed by Agnello Dias and Santosh Padhi (both ex-JWT). Not as 'famous' as Piyush Pandey or Prasoon Joshi but their work speaks for itself.

These are the guys who worked on the Nike Cricket ad (I thought that was amazing back in 2007) . And numerous Times of India campaigns (Lead India, Teach India and the ''Day in the life of… ' series).

Yessssss I am a fan.

And here is some excellent advice Agnello has for new entrants in the creative industry. In an interview to Adgully he says:

In the creative field, success is not equivalent to talent. Success depends on resilience. It also depends on what pace you can keep coming back after a bounced ad or a released ad that has not done very well. Most of the successful people in the creative field are people with great(er) creative resilience than talent… youngsters should remember that.

I agree 100%. Creativity is about a constant flow of ideas.

Having the judgement which one to pick and run with.

Discarding the ones you loved but did not work.

Not operating from your ego or need to show cleverness but what is required, what is right, what is created from the head but finds its way to your heart.

Over time - say 10-15-20 years - this starts coming to you naturally. Whether you are a musician, an artist, a writer or a copywriter.

And yes, if the System does not allow you to work in this way, you do what Agnello did. Your Own Thing. It is tough and hassly for creative people to become entrepreneurs (looking into finances and whatnot is a dull distraction from creative work!). But it is worth it.

I hope there are more Taproots, more Agnellos, more unmundane advertising. Until then the remote control is your only saviour from sufferance and 7 day hairfall challenges. And impossibly shiny hair, whiter than white teeth and skin.

Creatively created on Planet Photoshop!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A new sunrise

On Independence Day, I caught snatches of Attenborough's evergreen 'Gandhi'.

Gandhiji is fasting for communal harmony. Uncontrollable riots have broken out in partitioned Punjab and Bengal.

Nehru and Sardar Patel have come to meet him, to call off the fast. Instead, Bapu tells Sardar Patel,"You join me in fasting."

Sardar replied, only half in jest," Bapu, if I fast, I will die. But if you fast, people will listen. They care about whether you live or die."

On the morning of 16th August I thought to myself, "Do people really care whether Anna lives or dies?"

After all, he is a Gandhian but he is not Gandhi.

Events of the day which followed answered that question loud and clear.

We care. Enough to move our butts and join protests on the ground. In numbers that look large enough on TV to excite the rest of us.

Ki haan, kuch ho saklta hai. Aam aadmi ki awaaz duniya ko hila sakti hai.

Democracy, which existed only as a word in textbooks, has suddenly become gloriously and vibrantly alive.

In a way that you and me never felt, when we cast our vote for some unknown, unseen, undeserving political candidate.

Yes, the purists among you are ready to jump on me now and proclaim there has to be *some* method or there will be madness. But isn't what is happening in the name of democracy another form of madness.

Where power is seen not as responsibility, but privilege. Where the elected representative of the citizens becomes a 'supercitizen'.

He has right of way on roads., can breeze into the airport without ID proof (I saw Renuka Chowdhury do this with my own eyes at Delhi's T3 last month).

Has no 5 year plan to improve the welfare of citizens, but 25 year plans on improving own welfare. Stashed away in lockers, mattresses, benami plots and houses.

As if one man or woman *needs* that much for one lifetime.

As if the next seven generations will benefit.

More likely, they will come to ruin.

Not to mention generations of Indians who are being ruined.

Will getting out on the streets change anything? Who knows. But sitting quietly in our homes certainly will not.

Join the movement, wherever you are.

Check for events on www.indiaagainstcorruption.org, or create your own on the site.

Follow on twitter:



Believe that one man - Everyman - can make a difference.

This is the sunrise of Hope.
After such a long and moonless night.

Do not draw the curtain of cynicism.

Awaken, fellow citizens, awaken!

(All pucs taken at rally in support of Anna held this evening at Shivaji chowk in Vashi, Navi Mumbai)

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