AB c of Management

(written in 2007 for Film Street Journal by Devarajan Venkat) 

Film industry is one of the latest entrants into Corporate India and obviously is at a nascent stage of adopting itself to the corporate jargons, theories, practices and strategies. But it will be interesting to know that Hindi Film industry (Bollywood) is one of the earliest teachers and preachers of management fundas to Corporate India. Let’s take a shot at what Bollywood has taught us over the years, yes the AB c of Management with AB ( Amitabh Bachchan )  being the important catalyst and preacher. 

So its  Lights! Camera! Action ! 

All the avid watchers of AB films will easily relate to these management  lessons . So its flash back to some famous relevant AB films and you will be surprised that AB has been unintentionally teaching us the ABC of management over a period of time.

Management lesson no.1 :  ‘Vision is the key to success in business’ 

Flash back: Trishul

‘Paach lakh ka sauda karne ja raha hoon aur mere jeb me footi kaudi nahin hain’

This evergreen dialogue of AB to Sanjeev Kumar says it all. He wants to make it big in the construction business and he takes a huge risk by agreeing to purchase a land, legally owned by Sanjeev Kumar but illegally captured by goondas. AB offers to pay five lacs without a penny in the pocket. He negotiates for a credit period of 15 days to make the payment to Sanjeev K. During that period, he drives out the goondas, takes possession of the land, signs the documents for purchase of the land and goes to a financier for a loan against the same land so that he can pay off the cost of the land. Thus he gets a vast land at a cheap price and grows up in his business.


Apart from the vision, there are various other conclusions one can draw from this sequence.  AB knew his strengths and limitations. He had the raw guts and  focus of purpose. He had the vision to draw a road map for starting his business empire and to grow it further. AB neither had the money nor was capable of raising finance, given his background. But he had self-belief. He was confident that he would be able to drive away the goondas. That was the key. That was precisely the reason that he could procure the land at a cheap price. For the seller too it was a win-win situation since five lacs was better than having nothing at all. This single scene itself displays so many pre-requisites of running a successful business enterprise. To summarize the same:

Vision, negotiation skills, clarity of thought, excellent execution skills, resource mobilization, focus of purpose, self-belief & self-confidence, and a calculated risk taking ability. Thus he started off with his business mission without a footi kaudi in the pocket and built a business empire.


Management lesson no.2 :  ‘Recruit the best and the honest’

Flash back: Trishul

In the same movie after starting the business, AB wanted to hire the best for his organization. What better way than poaching good people from the competition! Here again AB uses his own reference check methods to verify the credentials of the prospective candidate (Rakhee). AB offers Rakhee (working with the competitor) a decent bribe in exchange for some crucial business information. Rakhee refused and there! AB had identified the right person for a crucial job in his organization.


Management lesson no.3 :  ‘Strategy without execution is meaningless’

Flash back: Trishul   

‘Doosro ne jo pachchis baras main kiya hain, muje voh ek saal me karna hai. Mere paas waqt bahuth kam hai.’

AB slogs 24×7 to build an empire in a record time. This confirmed the fact that without skilful implementation and hard work all strategies and vision will come to zero.  AB made detailed plan to out beat and out smart the competition. AB was quite clear that to be successful, one needs to be the No. 1 in the respective business and to reach there one need to dislodge the existing No. 1.


Management lesson no.4 :  ‘Lead from the front’

Flash back: Satte pe Satta  

 AB was the eldest of 7 brothers. Like a true leader, he delegates all his household chores to his siblings and gets work done from them. He had an autocratic style of management. But when they need him badly during a crisis ( making their respective love story, a success) AB led from the front and supported them throughout the tough times. Just like a true leader. Needless to say they adored him.


Management lesson no.5 :  ‘Be aware of the competition’

Flash back: Deewar

One of the best strategic moves ever on display! AB is working for a firm which desperately wants to know what the competing firm is up to. Being a smuggling business, advance vital information of competition was very critical to the success of the operations. The only way they could achieve this, was by planting a trusted employee in the enemy camp. Now the question was how to win over the confidence of the enemy camp especially when the enemy knows that the person was employed by the rival firm. AB comes out with a brilliant solution. AB sent one of his lieutenants to the enemy camp with a ‘secret’ information. The ‘secret’ information was that AB would leave a particular restaurant at a particular time without any security and that would be the right time to shoot AB. It was pre-decided that AB would leave that particular restaurant at that particular time. Now comes the killer dialogue which AB tells to his boss ‘ Only two things can happen in this plan. Either I will die or I will survive. But  either way our plan to plant our guy in the enemy camp will definitely succeed since he is going to win their confidence with this piece of vital information’.


Management lesson no.6 :  ‘Do your homework before closing a deal’

Flash back: Deewar

AB strikes a deal to purchase a muti-storey building from a businessman at a price which seemed to be much higher than the market price. The businessman is puzzled at this and he questions AB’s wisdom of negotiation once the deal is struck. AB retorts ‘ Dhanda toh apko karna nahi aatha. Yeh imaarath ke liye agar aap dus lakh rupya zyada mangte tho bhi main de detha. Kai saal pehle meri maa yahan pe eente uthaya karthi thi yeh building baand ne ke liye. Aur aaj main unko yeh building tohfe me de raha hoon’ ( you do not understand business. For this building, if you had asked ten lakhs more, still I would have paid the price. Many years back my mother used to carry bricks to build this building and today I am going to gift her, this entire building)

It is obvious that the businessman did not do his homework properly and lost an opportunity to encash.

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