Who would’ve thought that a Bollywood rom-com would teach us valuable lessons about money? And that too a K-Jo film with Ranveer Singh as the hero? It must be super over the top! You’d be surprised to learn that the film teaches us valuable lessons in money.
First the story. Rocky Randhawa is the heir to Dhanalakshmi Sweets run by his autocratic grandmother Dhanalakshmi (Jaya Bachchan) and her son Tijori Randhawa (Aamir Bashir). Rocky (Ranveer Singh) has a timid mother (Kshiti Jog) and a sister (Anjali Anand), and despite the wealth, they are under the patriarchal thumb of the mostly angry dad. Rocky Randhawa has a grandfather (Dharmendra) who is in a wheelchair, mostly lost in his own world of poetry. Rocky, finds a torn photograph in his grandpa’s diary and seeks out the woman in the photo.
She turns out to be Jamini Chatterjee (Shabana Azmi) who is grandmother of a cultured educated Bengali family that includes TV journalist Rani Chatterjee (Aalia Bhatt), a pedantic English professor mother (Churni Ganguly) and a Kathak dancer dad (Tota Roy Chowdhury).
Rocky and Rani meet to reunite grandpa and grandma and this film is a love story. It is an explosive fun rom-com, but money lessons? Let’s examine.
Lesson One: If you have connections, use them well
This film is a Dharma productions offering, a film by Karan Johar. He has introduced young talent like no other production house has, and in this film, he probably just asked these young stars to join the fun song that opens the film. The song is everything a big Bollywood production can be: a big set, bright lights and when Rocky Randhawa makes an appearance, you know that his outfit must cost thousands because the international brands are in your face. Before you are foot tapping with this awesome introduction song, you say, ‘Hey! That’s Varun Dhawan!’ and before you know it, there’s Jahnvi Kapoor, Sara Ali Khan, Ananya Pandey dancing with Rocky!
And just like that Karan Johar wins the power play.
So the next time you are about to invest in a brand new offering on the stock exchange, you should channel your inner Karan Johar and seek out the people who you know. People who know about that new offering, and could help you choose. Just as KJo made the young stars look good, make your advisors feel that their opinion counts. Don’t forget to send them mithai when their advice works out well for you!
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Lesson 2: Long term investments will yield amazing results
The film uses some of Bollywood’s best songs from Guru Dutt’s filmChaudhvin ka Chand (the title song) to DevAnand’s Hum Dono (Abhi na jaao chhod kar ke dil abhi bhara nahi), Dharmendra’s songs (Aaj mausam bada beimaan hai from film Loafer) and the mad rhyme of‘Suno suno Miss Chatterjee, mere dil ka matter ji’ (Mohammed Rafi and Asha Bhosle, from the filmBaharen Phir Bhi Aayengi)
This is KJo’s tribute to Bollywood and his power play number two. He has enough weight in the industry to ask and get the copyrights for these songs. And the audience loves it because these songs are still popular with the young as well as the elderly.
Learn to recognise financial instruments that will keep you happy over an extended period of time. In fact, see how old songs worked in the new film. Don’t dump your investments because something new and shiny shows up in your neighbourhood. Choose quality every single time.
Lesson 3: Brazen newcomers, Bold financial offerings VS Dull, Ordinary ones
Rocky Randhawa is like a whirlwind. He wears bright shiny, expensive, branded clothes. In colours that could blind you, but he carries them off with some sort of inbuilt panache. You know he’s the hero, and you laugh when he doesn’t care for Rani’s colleague Shomen (also in love with her). Rocky calls him everything from Rani’s social network, Sonam and even Shobha to insult him. And because he is so dull, you laugh at him too. You know that the boring guys never get the girl in the film
In real life too, we want to try out the new, bold money offerings instead of putting your hard-earned money in dull stuff. Imagine a bank account that offers you more interest for your savings account. Will you not consider the new account rather than say put your money in a piggy bank or a post office savings account? Am not saying you should not put your money in an old-fashioned savings account. But do shake off that apathy and take that step towards bolder investments, savings schemes.
Lesson 4: Even long-term investors need to adapt new ideas
The Chatterjees are a traditional, cultured Bengali family. They hold poetry evenings at home and hold education as supremely important. Rani tells Rocky that all her ex-boyfriends were fabulously cultured and educated. But questions her heart that is set on the brash and seemingly uneducated Rocky? He mistakes the conversation at breakfast in the Chatterjee household about elections and voting for voting in Big Boss.
But Rocky has something far more important that this sticking to the stereotypical ‘we are intellectuals’ label. He has a heart. His line of dialogue to Rani will resonate with you. Rani is trying to point out how different they are and asks him a series of questions like ‘Where in India is West Bengal located?’, ‘Who is India’s President?’ When Rocky gets them wrong, and Rani tells him that this relationship is impossible, Rocky remarks: Are these questions for a boyfriend or the UPSC exam?
You may be in for a long-term haul in your investing life. And it’s a remarkable quality to have. But don’t forget, you can look at new offerings that just might fit into your portfolio, even though they look nothing like your long-term investments. Sometimes we don’t invest in, say, environmentally friendly companies - a cause close to your heart - because your brain asked you to continue reinvesting in some bigger venture. Sometimes following your heart just might make you a star!
Lesson 5: As the world changes, change your strategy too
In the film we see that the stock price of Dhanalakshmi Sweets has tumbled because they have stuck to their old-style advertising. The ad film shows three different women making laddoos for their husbands, feeding the family, praying.
Dhanalakshmi and her son Tijori (named because his arrival filled the coffers) don’t see anything wrong with the patriarchal depiction. But Rani reminds the Board that times have changed and so have the ideas. Women are in the workforce, but why are they still in the kitchen? Can’t the husbands help there, or take over the ladoo making? The new ad works because Rani gives them a new tagline: New values but the same great taste.
In your portfolio too, you may have stocks that may be plodding away in the market, but do nothing for you. Over time your attitudes have changed, and your portfolio should reflect that. You don’t want to mess up the essence of your portfolio, but lean towards new things too. Or you might see other people stealing your thunder! Banks will talk incessantly about home loans, and families will want you to ‘settle down’ and buy that house. But what if your dreams are different? Maybe you want to invest your money in something that will help you travel and make the world your home.
Lesson 6: If you have the nose for it, the time to spread those wings is now!
A little mixed metaphor there, but you will know what I’m trying to say here. We see that Rocky’s sister knows how to trade stocks, but in the patriarchal home, is expected only to get married off. Rocky’s mother secretly wants to sing, but is afraid to voice her opinions, let alone sing, in front of her fierce husband and her mother-in-law. And in Rani’s home, her father, a famous, professional kathak dancer is forced to leave Kolkata because his wife got a better paying job in Delhi. He now only teaches kids to dance.
It takes encouragement from Rani and Rocky for their talents to shine.
In your money life, you too might be bowing to the traditions: investing in FDs or unit trusts or even life insurance. They are not wrong investments. But what if you have the knack of day trading? Or trading in options? What if fear is keeping you barely afloat?
What if you have sharper, more informed opinions than your money manager when it comes to certain stocks?
If you have the talent, the nose to smell out winners in the market, shouldn’t you follow your dreams and dance beautifully like Rani’s father does? They might laugh at you in the beginning, but do not give up your dreams. The applause will come.
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.