Vishal Bhardwaj is on a roll on the OTT platform! With an Agatha Christie adaptation Charlie Chopra and the Mystery of the Solang Valley (Six episode series) and now Khufiya (film). Both of these are on OTT platforms currently. Khufiya is so beautifully made, you forget the tedious predictability of Charlie Chopra (Agatha Christie works on a formula, but that is discussion for another day!) and enjoy Tabu playing a spy, a R&AW agent.
The film starts with the murder of an Indian operative, code name ‘Octopus’ (played by the beautiful Bangladeshi actor Azmeri Singh Badhon) who is about to gift a perfume bottle (filled with a nerve agent) to the Bangladeshi Defence Minister who is an ISI operative. The betrayal hits Krishna Mehra (the inimitable Tabu) hard. Octopus was her agent. Her boss Jeev (Ashish Vidyarthi) confirms: there is a mole. The suspicion falls on Ravi Mohan who works at R&AW, and has been seen photocopying secret documents and taking them to who knows where. Under KM’s (Krishna Mehra) leadership, the whole team bugs Ravi’s home. What secrets does the surveillance reveal? Does KM get her revenge for Octopus’s death? These questions are answered in this rather well made film.
What are the money lessons that you can learn from this spy film loosely based on Amar Bhushan’s novel Escape to Nowhere.
Lesson 1: Never venture into unknown territory
Code name Octopus insists that she can bring down the bad guy Brigadier Mirza in his own house on her own. She wants to prove that she’s an asset and not a liability. Even though she manages to take the poisonous perfume through the tightened security, she gets caught because her act as femme fatale is easily caught. And we see that going into an enemy’s home without any backup is foolhardy.
In your money life, don’t be like Octopus. You cannot possibly find success in any undertaking without a backup plan. Even James Bond has a team supporting his riskiest venture. Despite warnings Octopus takes a risk, goes in alone and fails.Confidence is a good thing, but when you are attempting to use a new financial instrument,or stepping into a world of stocks or commodities trading, then it’s best to measure all risks, follow the markets and then work with your money manager (who would be your greatest support) and then take decisions.
Lesson 2: Patience is the key
The team surveilling Ravi Mohan’s home, watches the family go through mundane tasks every day, patiently. The couple at the grocery store are part of the team, they take turns to watch the goings on in the house. KM and her team are in the apartment across from Ravi’s home, keeping vigil by staring at the monitors attached to the spy cameras placed in the house, even using a camera to look directly at the balcony. Ravi’s room at work is also similarly bugged and their cameras are so advanced they can zoom into what documents Ravi has been copying. When Ravi puts these documents into his car and drives away, they track his movements as well.
The chase of the man on the motorbike through narrow alleys of Delhi is a fun watch. When the man makes a call to share numbers that are obviously a code, the team member is also listening in by standing at the next booth…
When you choose to invest your hard-earned money, you need patience. Some people have the luxury of jumping head first into investing. The rest of us need to adapt and watch the markets patiently. Look at all economic indicators, understand the politics of money and then invest. And just as Tabu’s team discovers the patterns in spying, the fruits of your labour will be sweeter.
Lesson 3: The pitfalls, the risks are measurable
A little note left in the crack of the historical ruins exposes the people who are paying Ravi to leak National Security information. This little note points to the source of the fancy necklace that Ravi is able to buy Charu. Charu asks him: Where are you getting the money from? Can we afford this fancy necklace?
Most of us lead quiet, unimportant lives. But no matter where you work, the temptation of a little more money to play with is big. Industrial espionage is real. And there are eyes and ears to all that we say and do when we are not at work. We need to be careful when we talk about the reason why you’re working late, are stressed out. Even about the ‘game changer’ feature in your product… And yes, when you’re investing, do not boast. Be inspired by movies and not spend like you struck gold and buy a Lamborghini or flash your money about. It simply invites scrutiny.
And when you are following a tip, don’t get caught up in the possibility of making extra cash, and take illogical risks. Find out more, talk to your trusted money manager and then take that step.
Lesson 4: Swimming with the sharks? Then become smarter
Wamiqa Gabbi, who plays Charu in the film, is a happy housewife, cooking and cleaning and taking her child for swimming lessons and her mother in law to satsangs. She asks Ravi where he’s getting the money for the diamond necklace he’s gifting her, but is happy to not follow up. When it’s clear that her husband has been betraying the nation, she refuses to leave the country with him and has to lose a child and yes, get shot too.
It takes Tabu who plays KM to teach Charu that she needs to dig in her heels and play the part of the hapless, still innocent wife, if she wants to get her son back. Of course KM has an agenda too. She needs to punish Ravi who is responsible for the death of Agent Octopus.
The story may be convoluted, but the money lesson is clear: if you are going to swim with the sharks, you should be ready to have your head bitten off. Risky stocks can be fun to invest in only when you know when to get into those seas and know how you are going to get out. This involves a different kind of dedication and sacrifice. Charu wants her son but she has to swallow her pride. If you’re taking risks in the market, the gains can be amazing, but only if you can survive the sharks.
Lesson 5: Don’t hand over your life to unknown entities
Ravi Mohan is seduced by the idea of saving the world and ends up betraying his own country. The immediate rewards include a house with a garage, and cash payments for his betrayal. They even fly him, his mother and child abroad after Ravi tells them that the R&AW agency has discovered his betrayal. But when he gets abroad, his status is uncertain, he gets no green card, no fancy home, and ends up working at a convenience store in a not fancy Southern state. The rewards of betrayal are not really fancy.
In your money life too, there’s a lesson to be learnt. Don’t just put your money in shady schemes that promise you ‘money whenever you need’, money at rates unheard of, even investment schemes that make you believe money will come out of your ears. Don’t just invest your savings in a neighbourhood bank that popped up one day. Investigate first, if the co-op venture is really a bank! So many people still fall for phone calls that say they’ve won cash, or a car or a house even if only they would share their PAN card number, their bank account details and so on. If you do that, you are practically handing over your savings to strangers.
Manisha Lakhe is a poet, film critic, traveller, founder of Caferati — an online writer’s forum, hosts Mumbai’s oldest open mic, and teaches advertising, films and communication. She can be reached on Twitter at @manishalakhe.