Profesional Credibility (Mere fans mujhse koi nahin chen sakta)

Welcome back to Matinee Masala Metaphor(M3) and a touched, humbled,  grateful me. I thank you so much for your support, love, affection showered on the first release of M3.  Am so touched and if you are reading the 2nd release in the series, you asked for it 😊 

Life is full of events and our general tendency is to attribute a reason for the occurrence of an event and accept the most obvious reason. Many times and quite often, that may not be the true reason. I’m sure, this applies to a lot of areas in life. But this is the filmy me, now, so let me lead you back in time. 

As confessed, in my last release, I grew up admiring Rajesh Khanna in an era that belonged to the Angry Young Man. For a better part of my childhood years and adolescent years – I believed what generally everyone believed – the fading of Rajesh Khanna was attributed to the advent of Amitabh Bachchan. So, the cold war that I knew was very different from what the world was dealing with. My world was bipolar too, The RK block and the AB block. From resolutely refusing to watch Amitabh Bachchan movies, staunchly rooting for Rajesh Khanna movies(I didn’t get too many good ones, during my growing up years), and being divided in my head about who my true friends are (by now, you can guess, the sole parameter, I was using)

As I matured, I sought to find out more – was it what the majority said? Was it the rise of Amitabh Bachchan? Was it the socio–eco-political shift in the country because of the emergency?

I started thinking, recollecting, and reading. Started solving this puzzle in my mind and organizing the entire story sequentially, in my mind. With the release of Aradhana in 1969, a new star was born, the star who created unparalleled mass hysteria in India, the star whose smile melted hearts, the star who altered the definition of polygamy (don’t know how many girls married his photographs), the star whose white car turned pink, every time it was parked at a public place (no, no the car didn’t blush but it was lipstick and blush), the star whose name was a  sure shot indicator of cash bells ringing at the box office, to the extent that the Indian Film industry chanted ‘Upar Aaka neeche Kaka’ and they knew, everything the man touched was gold. King Midas had arrived. One jubilee after another, the man decimated all previous records(in fact future too), not only in terms of success but popularity as well. Without media penetration, like today and without any social media, the world realized a phenomenon was born and so rightfully a new phrase ‘Superstar’ was coined for him. The First Super Star, the only one to have managed 15 consecutive hits (unbeaten till date) and over 10 flops in a row, without a dent in his popularity.

The Superstar had Mumbai University textbooks carry a chapter on the Charisma of Rajesh Khanna, you had BBC depute a  Jack Pizzey to India to record a documentary on this phenomenon. 

As mentioned by Gautam Chintamani in his book ‘The loneliness of being Rajesh Khanna’ and Yasser Usman in his book ‘Rajesh Khanna’, a larger part of the world attributed his success to his charisma, and then another section that attributed his success to the music of his films and the camaraderie of Kishore Kumar, R.D. Burman, Shakti Samanta. A few others gave credit to his good looks.

But very few ascribed his success to his own efforts. What a lot of people didn’t know was that the man was known for his late-night sittings with his music directors until he got the right tune, making his directors work on his shots until he got the nod of his head in sync with the beat of a song or he got his eyes to blink at the right time and the right angle. He was a master at his game. A perfectionist! He was a good-looking man, brilliant actor, understood music, saw what the camera saw, and had lady luck swaying by his side. A sure shot recipe for success and what a success.

However, the success sustained itself only for 6 years? All going right, then what happened? Why only 6 years?

A very interesting trend here is that the very people who tasted success with Mr. Rajesh Khanna were now transitioning. Manmohan Desai’s first 2 career blockbusters with Mr. Rajesh Khanna, he was now on a film making spree with the Angry man, Yash Chopra’s first two career movies, both with Mr. Rajesh Khanna, was now on a spree with Mr. Bachchan, Shakti Samantha, the man whose banner possibly evolved as the biggest banner of Hindi cinema, with all Rajesh Khanna hits also moved on to Mr. Bachchan and the maker of Anand, Bawarchi and Namak Haraam also transitioned to Mr. Bachchan. What could prompt people to move on from a methodical, master actor, with whom they had grown in stature, success, and fame?

Folklore says the man started dictating terms, that people around the Super Star, his co-stars, his directors, producers, lyricists, music directors were now finding it difficult to cope with his tantrums, arrogance reflected in his behavior, tantrums were now menacing, opinions were now insulting, he slid into a make-believe world which was taking him away from reality, and possibly as he scaled some dizzying heights, there was an increasingly large population who was waiting for an opportunity to pull him down.

Like other co-workers, there were these talented scriptwriters who were given their first break by Rajesh Khanna but during a discussion, around a movie, were surprised and hurt by his obstinate stance and rude responses. Something transpired, that day. They walked out of his house. They decided never ever to work with the Super Star but also decided that their scripts will create a character who is from the masses, angry and upset with the system, he will fight back, this will be a new Super Star. They refused to part with their powerful script and powerful character if the movie starred Rajesh Khanna. The script was a strong one and finally, even Mr. Yash Chopra(the producer Director) relented and agreed to do the movie without Rajesh Khanna and with Amitabh Bachchan, as recommended by the scriptwriter duo. The movie, being discussed was Deewar. The rest is history. 

The reason for this Super Star sliding from his pedestal was not anybody else but the man himself..

People could not refute his success but now, they were not willing to contribute to it – be it working with him or even by talking about his work. His admirers, his propagators, his ambassadors were disappearing.

Over the years, it appeared people had forgotten this bright star. But every time, he got a good script, a good role, he was out of the clouds, shining bright. Unfortunately, the majority had lost trust. The industry, as it was then, had started writing him off. Not to forget, there was complete machinery waiting to pull him down, all those who were rubbed the wrong way while he was ascending the popularity charts. In spite of all the phenomenal talent that the man possessed, His audience never could see him in good projects –  his external customers could no longer see the talent because he was being rejected by people around, by people of his own fraternity, his internal customers.

So his capability was not being determined by his expertise alone but was also a function of his reputation and his network.

To give Mr. Khanna, his due, a lad of 29 who saw the success of this kind, slipped. As he once famously said, “Others had a Rajesh Khanna to learn from, I had nobody to learn from”. Had it not been for his hubris, we would be gifted with some more eternal classics of this maestro.

His successors ensured they didn’t fall victim to the same trap. Mr. Bachchan to date is respected for his professional behavior. Every individual who works with Mr. Bachchan, or recently Mr. Akshay Kumar, can stop praising them. So a professional‘s credibility keeps growing, not only because of the professional’s expertise but also to the extent the network endorses and in a way promotes the professional.

As a professional, I see a huge manifestation of this in our careers. It’s very easy to overlook and undermine the role that a network can play in building or decimating your professional credibility. 

While people focus on building expertise, their professional credibility may still not see a proportional scale up. This could be because :

  1. the individual does not possess a good network, 
  2. the reputation within the network is neutralizing the expertise
  3. the individual may not be in sync with the environment., a misfit in the culture of the organization. There are no rights and wrongs here but could be purely a case of fitment. 

In any of the above-mentioned cases, the net result is that the professional’s credibility will diminish. The onus is now on the individual to act and act fast, either rectify the reputation, start building a powerful network or move out of the environment, where you do not fit. All this, without losing time.

A simple formula  to convey the same :

Professional Credibility = your expertise x your Social Capital.

Social Capital could be a term to gauge the width and depth of your network. Let’s look at the depth and width through 3 layers :

a)Bonds: are Links to people based on a sense of common identities, such as family, close friends, and people who share our culture or ethnicity.

b)Bridges: Links that stretch beyond a shared sense of identity, for example to distant friends, colleagues, and associates but maybe the same community and strata

c)Linkages: Links to people or groups further up or lower down the social ladder.

You can try and fathom, what will be your professional impact if every individual who interacts with you, as a professional, not only acknowledges your expertise but is also willing to endorse you for it.

Other professionals in your ‘Bonds’ will be the most tolerant of you. And other professionals, especially in the ‘Bridges’ and ‘Linkages’ will be willing to talk about you, not only because of your expertise but because of the holistic experience of working with you, that the individual recounts.

So thrive on your ‘Bonds’, build your ‘Bridges’, strengthen your ‘Linkages’, until we meet again with the next chapter in Matinee Masala Metaphor.