In the razzmatazz of a service economy, we have somehow forgotten the fact that India was a land of riches and opportunity. During the 1700s, under the reign of the Mughal Empire, India accounted for a quarter of the world’s GDP making it the most powerful and self-reliant economy in the world. It was only after the systematic de-industrialization by the British Empire in the 18th century that we became a nation of importers, buying expensive commodities that could very well have been manufactured at a better quality right on our own soil. Even after Independence, India remained a languishing industry that struggled with a corrupt licensing system, and a bureaucratic behemoth that made policies that pushed the nation into international debt.
But that’s a story that has disappeared into the dust of our rearview mirror. Today, India is startup central – a burgeoning economy that is optimistic about its creators who do not work for other companies but create their own. The $16 billion Flipkart-Walmart Deal ushered in an era that has rekindled the romance of business and entrepreneurship. Shimit Amin’s 2009 film Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year is one of the most underrated films on this very emotion that revolves around a below-average graduate who refuses to give in to the machinations of an undermining sales job. Instead, he finds an opportunity and creates a computer hardware business out of nothing. Maneesh Sharma’s 2010 film Band Baaja Baaraat, which also starred Anushka Sharma, told the story of two disillusioned youngsters who put their people-skills to good use and founded a business around the “wedding experience”.
Today, India is startup central – a burgeoning economy that is optimistic about its creators who do not work for other companies but create their own. The $16 billion Flipkart-Walmart Deal ushered in an era that has rekindled the romance of business and entrepreneurship.
In fact, here’s a list of films that you can check out in this genre: Bollywood Films about Entrepreneurship
Written and directed by Sharat Katariya, Sui Dhaaga is a poignant tale of a husband and a wife who dare to start their own tailoring business. Mauji is a light-hearted simpleton who works for a Businessman who sells Usha’s tailoring machines. Seeing the Businessman and his sons treating her husband like a court-jester, Mamta asks her husband to find his self-respect and start something of his own. Taking heed, Mauji realises the truth in her words and starts his business under a tree with a machine borrowed from their neighbour. However, destiny has other plans for them. Mauji’s aging, obese mother suffers a cardiac arrest and is admitted into the hospital. As the bills start to pile up, Mamta and Mauji find themselves intertwined in a debt. And in order to pay that back, they have to start working at a stitching factory with a fixed salary. As frustration starts to rise about malpractice within the factory, the duo quit the job and decide to make their own clothes, with their own brand name.
Katariya’s story-telling is an endearing homage to small-town India. Raghubir Yadav who is a ubiquitous face in the Bollywood film and TV scene is the quintessential father-with-a-permanent-scowl who has spent his life working as a lowly employee in a government establishment. He is extremely skeptical of self-employment as he had seen his own father drive his tailoring business into the ground. His comic admonishments are well-timed and bring in a warmth to the household. Mauji mother is a sweet, old lady who is always fussing about her husband’s chai, and if there was water in the overhead tank, even in her failing health. A lot of care has been taken to bring out the local tongue-in-cheek slang of the town which adds character to the setting.
Varun Dhawan as the inimitable Mauji is in fantastic form and has added yet another definitive role after Shoojit Sircar’s October. His transformation from a man without self-respect to a fearless entrepreneur is a treat to watch. Right at his helm is Anushka Sharma’s deglamorized character of Mamta who breaks convention from being a submissive wife to an intelligent business-partner. Some of my favourite moments from the film are with the two of them together, fighting against the world to set up their business, especially the sequence where they go to a machine distribution centre to get a government-distributed tailoring machine.
Sui Dhaaga checks all the right boxes while telling a riveting story infused with a struggle that you can easily see around you. There are hundreds of businesses around you which are being run by people from faraway villages, and by people who had no means, to begin with. It also puts the much-deserved spotlight on the plight of the hundreds of thousands of weavers and handloom workers who are exploited every day by factory-owners and big businesses, forcing them to either close their business or to migrate to the cities in search of hard labour. The story misses little in terms of the social stigma that people have towards self-employed business-owners. Despite the rushed second act, the optimistic dream-ending leaves you satisfied. I don’t know about you but I sure am a sucker for people getting their due. If you’re looking for some much-needed inspiration, go watch the film.