Bring out the Pathaan in you!

I saw Pathaan over the weekend. There was so much of noise and hype over it that I wanted to go and check it out for myself.

Right from the minute go, I felt I was on a high adrenaline, roller-coaster ride. The reinvention of the lead artiste from being the eternal romantic hero to now the crusader, savoir, and protector with the ability and power to beat all the villains was spectacular. Of course, the VFX and cinematography along with the high octave music all added to the overall package.

It was this transformation of the lead artiste to a new persona that kept me captivated throughout the run time of the cinema. While cinema is often fantasy it can also provide a powerful mirror to reflect upon. It can create scenarios and playgrounds for the imagination to run riot and gives you the tool of placing yourself in any role that you want to play or have always desired to play.

But coming back to the transformation bit – there are powerful lessons that we in organisations can dip into. Sharing a few of my own reflections here.

  1. Age is just a number

Filmy context: The hero is 57 years old and has come back after a hiatus of four years in a totally new avatar.

Two weeks ago a friend reached out with a dilemma. He was nearing 57 and had got a fantastic job offer. However, he was in two minds whether to go for a change at this time given that he was just three years away from official retirement. Toppling the apple cart has a lot to do with age, right? Wrong! It has got to do with being agile and willing to experiment new things. The retirement age factor is not yours to worry about, but it is for the hiring organisation to think of. Age in the end, is only a number. Changing gears at any age is possible if one is determined!

  1. There is always a new way to do the same old thing

Filmy context: While the storyline is predictable – good guy v/s bad guy, the combat methods used were new.

Communicators are focused on developing narratives and the right messaging for their organisation. While the narrative is adapted to the changing circumstances, many organisational leaders prefer to stick to conventional print media to tell their story. Communicators can influence their leaders to look at new ways of doing the same thing and still achieving the expected outcomes. Technology can always be embraced to innovate and invent dialogues, discussions, webinars, leadership conversations and many more different outreach avenues.

  1. It is okay to fail

Filmy context: There were many situations where the hero failed and/or got caught and even abducted, but he stayed focused on his mission

It is okay to fail. We all know that. But it is not so easy to accept it. It is only when we look at failures as a steppingstone to success and stay steadfast in our goals, can we move on. Career setbacks, crisis, reputational issues, challenges – all these are part of the game and only when one learns to embrace them, that we can rescript the story of our lives.

  1. Never underestimate the other side

Filmy context:  The hero had to keep changing his tactics to match up to the new tricks and techniques adopted by the villain.

If you are corporate communicator or working with a public relations consultancy, then you will need to be aligned with the changing needs of the media, the corporate and other stakeholders. Being complacent can only lead to falling behind times and being taken over by surprise. The stakeholder’s ecosystem is very dynamic, and fluid and professionals will need to mold themselves accordingly.

  1. No two crises are the same

Filmy context: Over the years, cinema has shown crisis in terms of terrorism, nuclear attacks, money heists and more. Today, it is the era of biological warfare.

Even if you have a comprehensive crisis management manual in place and have done a great deal of scenario planning, be prepared to be besieged by a crisis that was unforeseen. The global connectedness of the world has given rise to a different working order. Organisations are still facing the fall outs of hiring done during the Covid pandemic period. Nothing had prepared them for the crisis and down the line, new crisis may swoop the organisation. Leaders will need to learn to navigate these ambiguous situations and look at new ways of finding answers.

We all form perceptions from what we see around us. Reach out to the Pathaan inside you and explore what emerges!

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Country Group Head CSR at Bayer - South Asia
Sarita Bahl leads the Corporate Social Responsibility function for Bayer South Asia and is also the Director – Bayer Prayas Association. Prior to this, she successfully oversaw the communications and public affairs function for Bayer South Asia. Over her three decades of professional experience, Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, public sector, trade associations, MNCs and the Not-for-profit sector. An alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Science and the Swedish Institute of Management Program, Sarita specializes in stakeholder engagement, sustainability and communications. She is passionate about animals (is mother to a female cat), books and movies.

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