Cinema is a culture in India. Everything we do subconsciously is influenced by cinema or the core representation of the medium – Actors.  Brands run to cash in on every aspect of such influence through integrated media and communications. The stars themselves exploit this by lending support to causes, leagues etc. It’s unimaginable how our thinking too can be effected by what our favourite celebrities do, endorse and promote. There will be actors, characters or filmmakers that inspire you or help in your decision making through their endorsements.

Hindi movies run high on emotions but the ever-evolving film industry is a great place to look for some pearls of wisdom on entrepreneurship.

Here is a list of lessons on Entrepreneurship that we can learn from Bollywood leading entrepreneurs.

1) Confidence & Communication – Shahrukh Khan

An entrepreneur does not doubt his/her abilities or have low self-belief. In B-town, an actor who exudes unmatchable confidence is Shahrukh Khan. Long ago, he had said in an interview, “There are only to big Khans in this world, one is Genghis Khan and other is Shahrukh Khan.” Often SRK’s self-image is seen as arrogance but well it has helped him become the Badshah of Bollywood. So he surely isn’t complaining about how he is perceived.

One of the results of high confidence is powerful communication skills. They can motivate anyone and sell anything with his gift of gab. The Happy New Year  superstar is a rare one to maintain friendly relations with most media folks. Headline of the first-ever interview given by him to a hard-nosed editor of a film magazine was something to the effect that SRK is the country’s next superstar. Clearly it must have been something in the way he communicated that her prediction came true.

2) Out-of-the-box thinking – Aamir Khan

Successful entrepreneurs constantly innovate to stay at the top of their game. They don’t follow the herd or norms. Aamir Khan is one of the best out-of-box thinkers in the industry. From early on in his career the PK superstar has treaded his own path. Back in the 90s when most actors were juggling two-three films simultaneously, Aamir focused on one project at a time.

Even when it comes to scripts Aamir hasn’t played safe. Most people from filmdom had advised the superstar not to make Lagaan as it was about cricket and set in British India, both themes had seldom excelled at the box office. But Aamir followed his heart and created history with his first production. Similarly, while most of his contemporaries have been hosting game / reality shows on television, he entered the small screen as a host of a talk show highlighting the social concerns in India (Satyamev Jayate).       

3) Embracing & enhancing one’s talent – Salman Khan

A powerful entrepreneur’s interpersonal skills helps him/her identify his/her strengths and weakness, and take-up tasks accordingly. They don’t waste energies on trying to prove anything to anyone. Salman Khan is a shining example of it. The superstar has often said that he is an average actor. Yet, the Kick actor tops the Forbes India Celebrity 100 list for making the most bucks in 2014. And he has achieved it by focusing on his fortes – entertaining the audience with his larger-than-life roles and involvement in humanitarian work. Unlike the other Khans, Salman hasn’t experimented with roles and continues playing his real-life persona on the big screen.

4) Discipline – Akshay Kumar & Amitabh Bachchan

An entrepreneur is a disciplinarian who won’t shift focus from their goal. They do everything required to achieve their objectives and don’t let hindrances distract from it. Well-aware that physical appearance is crucial for his profession, Akshay Kumar follows a regimented lifestyle. The martial arts practitioner hits the bed by 10 pm, wakes-up before sunrise, which is followed by a workout session, is seldom seen at parties, maintains a strict diet and is a teetotaler. Perhaps that is the secret behind how he has managed to do 135 films in 24 years! His source of inspiration for a disciplined life is Amitabh Bachchan. Apart from leading similar lifestyle the legendary actor is fanatic about being on time. Clearly adherence to an orderly life is why the 72-year-old superstar puts in as many hours at work as the 40-plus superstars do.

5) Team player – Yash Raj Films, Dharma Films, Vidhu Vinod Chopra

Team playing goes a long way in building a successful enterprise. An entrepreneur should be able to delegate jobs to others and assign tasks that he/she can’t undertake. This aids in business expansion. Filmmaking is an outcome of great team work. One of the most structured filmmaking team is of Yash Raj Films. Legendary filmmaker Yash Chopra’s son Aditya Chopra usually signs multiple film contracts with young and fresh talents (actors like Anushka Sharma, Ranveer Singh, Arjun Kapoor and filmmakers like Kabir Khan, Maneesh Sharma, Habib Faisal, Ali Abbas Zafar etc). Not only does this practice aid growth of the company but also for the actor. Similarly Karan Johar has a good team in place at Dharma films to keep the production house working efficiently, which lets him focus on acting, TV show hosting, designing etc.

Meanwhile, filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra hasn’t churned out back-to-back blockbusters, yet he has made some of the highest box-office grossing films (Munnabhai series, 3 Idiots and PK). Reason is that he has built a loyal set of filmmakers and writers and generously shares the profits with his crew (especially directors like Rajkumar Hirani).

6) Target audience – Anurag Kashyap, Mika Singh, Yo Yo Honey Singh

In today’s open market and the burgeoning populace ensures there’s room for every kind of entrepreneur – big and small. The success of any enterprise depends on the end consumer. When happy melodramatic tales were ruling the roost, filmmaker Anurag Kashyap – highly influenced by European cinema – made dark and edgy films. The youth which was exposed to world cinema lapped up Kashyap’s fare. Today, the filmmaker successfully runs a production house that he believes in.

Similarly the Hindi film music scene is filled with versatile singers, but even Bhangra rappers like Mika Singh and Yo Yo Honey Singh have found space. Mika’s Punjabi Bhangra songs like Nonsense ki night, Jumme ki raat or Yo Yo Honey Singh’s Lungi dance, Chaar botal vodka, Aata majhi satakli may not be remembered as everlasting songs, but when that is played at a club the dance floor is packed with booty-shakers.

7) Failure – Amitabh Bachchan

Entrepreneurs are not thwarted by their failure or defeats. They accept a disappointment and move on and keep trying till they succeed. No one has seen the rise, fall and re-rise like Amitabh Bachchan has. In Mid-90s the Khans began playing lead roles and Bachchan senior was slipping into semi-retirement phase. So he founded ABCL (Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Limited) to handle film, TV and event production. Unfortunately after tasting sweet success with organisation of Miss World beauty pageant in India, ABCL failed and became bankrupt. The company owed a lot of money to the investors. Instead of mulling over the financial crisis, Big B found a way out. In an interview he had said, “One day, I got up early in the morning and went directly to Yash Chopraji and told him that I was bankrupt. I had no films. My house and a small property in New Delhi were attached. Yashji listened coolly and then offered me a role in his film Mohabattein.” Soon after that he hosted the first season of Kaun Banega Crorepati and was back in business. Amitabh Bachchan went on brand-endorsing spree and singing movies to clear his debt.

8) Vision – Ronnie Screwvala

A successful entrepreneur can sense a profitable business opportunity from miles away and understands the future market. It is well illustrated by the professional journey of UTV’s founder and ex-CEO Ronnie Screwvala. The head honcho started out in the media industry as a cable service provider in the 80s. A decade later Screwvala founded UTV group to make television content for broadcasters. Once that market was satiated he ventured into film production. After a great run as a producer he recently sold his stake in UTV to The Walt Disney and plunged into e-commerce ventures. Apart from exploring the new medium Screwvala has invested in agriculture sector too and is focusing on rural development.   

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