10 lessons from a movie

Image: Michal Marcol

I saw a movie recently that I had first seen almost two decades ago. It had had a profound effect on me then. Although it’s a comedy, it has wise nuggets of wisdom, sprinkled throughout. Watching it again brought back some memories, and the realization that I can still learn from it.

The movie is in Hindi, the name is ‘Bawarchi’. It is the story of an unhappy and quarrelsome joint family. Their cook can’t stand them anymore and runs away. They try to get a new cook but can’t find any. Then a new cook comes of his own. His wisdom and goodwill transforms the family into a loving and happy one. You can watch the movie online, it’s available at this link :


For those who can’t understand the language or are interested only in the lessons, here they are in a summarized form :

1. We focus so much on the big moments of happiness that we miss the umpteen small ones in everyday life. The small things in life have a lot of importance. At one point in the movie, the cook, Raghu says – “If a husband just takes five minutes to help out his wife, she might say no outwardly. But in her heart, she will be wishing he just be there.”

These small things hold a lot of meaning. While waiting for a big moment of happiness, we loose these small moments. Big moments are ten or twenty in life, small ones are so many!

I think the only purpose of big goals is to make us feel motivated and enthusiastic in the present moment. If we get too attached to them, we loose the ability to enjoy the present. Goal achievement will provide only temporary excitement. It helps to learn how to enjoy the journey to the goal as well.

2. Everyone does his/her work, but the fun you get doing someone else’s work, has no comparison. This point is stressed over and over again, throughout the movie.

When you help yourself, you feel good, but when you help others, you taste deep, incomparable happiness.

We all try to get a job, get paid and buy our way to happiness. We are particular about getting more and more value for less and less effort. Does that make us happy? I’ll leave it to you to answer that.

But here is something interesting – Try an act of kindness. Help someone, without expecting anything in return. Maybe you can help someone around you, a colleague, a family member, a friend. Or you can go online to a forum that caters to a subject you have an expertise in. Answer a few questions there. Don’t just leave it at that. Help the person until he/she finally gets through to the solution. There is a very subtle and heavy sense of peace and happiness that you get when they express their joy on finding a solution and thank you back. Heavy in the sense that it stays, it does not go away quickly.

Beware! don’t start expecting others to feel grateful. You might be dejected if you are not able to take the person to a solution or the person does not show gratitude. I think it works best when you totally go selfless, really expecting nothing.

It is when you expect nothing that all blocks to receiving are opened. It is when you don’t expect goodness that you get it the quickest.

3. Keep learning and keep teaching. Towards the end of the movie, Raghu mentions this as one of his values.

I read somewhere that most adults, by the age of 24, feel they know everything about the world there is to know. There willingness to learn retards, and so does their speed to grow. This is accompanied by a lack of a sense of uncertainty and adventure. Those who think they know it all are unhappy, bored souls who don’t do much in life.

Stay humble, stay a student and the adventure, growth, and excitement never dies.

When you learn something, share it with others. Let them know. This will lead to that heavy sense of happiness that comes with helping others. You also get more learning and better understanding, since teaching others makes concepts clear and raises questions that you could not have thought on your own.

The main character, Raghu, recites a Sanskrit shloka at one point – ‘Swadesha pujyate rajah, vidwaan sarwatra pujyate’. It means that a king is only revered in his kingdom, but a wise person gets respect everywhere.

4. It is so simple to be happy, but it is so difficult to be simple. If your wants are less, if you are at peace with yourself, you don’t need much to be happy. But to establish this good friendship with your Inner Self takes some effort, especially when you have lost it. It requires you to face yourself often and find peace within, instead of chasing happiness in other things and people.

5. As you give, so you receive. What ever you give to this world, comes back. If you are selfish, and try to hoard for yourself, the world says, “All right. I will give this person more reasons to hoard, I will make him experience more scarcity”. If you give unselfishly, you create a lot of goodwill and a lot of channels through which abundance flows back to you. The world says, “Let’s give him more so that he can give away more.”

Even emotions come back to you. If you are angry often, you meet more people who show anger. If you are a loving person, you find yourself getting surrounded by other loving people.

You might not receive right away, but it will eventually come back to you.

6. A happy and early morning makes a happy day. Start the day with a smile and it will keep smiling back at you as long as it ends. But if the start is bad, you don’t feel in control the whole while. The first hour after waking up, sets the tune for the rest of the day. Get up a little early than you need to and spend some time doing something that you cherish.

7. Don’t get into the definition of good and bad. We all have a tendency to define people and things as good or bad. We like to define things we should do and things we should not. This is not as important. The definitions will change from situation to situation. Curb the tendency to judge others, it does more harm than good. Just work with the aim of bringing smiles, to yourself and to others, right direction will follow.

8. Love, the ultimate medicine. Towards the end, Raghu says, ‘People are stuck up in small problems, and only because they have forgotten the smallest, most valuable word in this world, Love.’

Love can solve so many problems. Practice love towards all and see for yourself. And while you are at it, remember that the best person to start with, is you.

9. Don’t criticize, just praise and encourage positive effort. There is a scene in the movie where the elder brother is drinking in front of the younger one’s kid. Younger brother doesn’t like it and asks his brother to stop drinking in front of the kid. An argument ensues and no consensus is reached. Only bitterness is gained.

When Raghu later sees the same thing, he does not discourage the elder, he keeps encouraging him to be better in other areas. One day, after the elder brother gets in better control of his life and seems happy, Raghu refuses to serve liquor to him. When asked for a reason, he says – ‘People drink to get away from their worries, to feel happy. But when there are no worries, then happiness itself is so big that man doesn’t need any artificial or addictive entertainment anymore.’ The elder agrees and doesn’t drink.

Criticism can only make you enemies and never gets the job done. Refrain from it. Encourage people towards a positive alternative instead.

10. Humor.Last, I will like to mention something that is not directly mentioned in the movie. The narration is by Amitabh Bachchan. He had a string of flops behind him at that time and was struggling to get a foot hold in the movies. Zanjeer, his first hit, had not come out yet. His story of struggle is another inspiration. You can feel the humor in his narration, even though he was going through a bad time personally. Humor is the greatest pain reliever in life. No matter how many failures you face, if you have the capacity to laugh, at the situation, at the failure and at yourself, you can continue in spite of the biggest adversities.

Have a good weekend!

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