8 Bollywood Movies That Inspire Leadership - FocusU

8 Bollywood Movies That Inspire Leadership

 “Inspiration is a guest that does not willingly visit the lazy.”
–  Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

When we are down in the dumps, facing stiff competition in this dog-eat-dog world and want to stop trying and give up, a good movie can quickly re-ignite our passion and enthusiasm. Movies not only entertain us but they can also inspire us to give our best to everything in life! An inspiring story can even motivate one to get through difficult times.

Here are a few such movies that can re-kindle the dormant leadership traits within us and assist us in reaching greater heights.

Swades (2004)

A true-life story of a non-resident Indian who returns to his homeland, the story resolves around Mohan Bhargava who initially works as a Project Manager at NASA in the United States.  After learning that electricity inconsistency and frequent power cuts are a big problem in Charanpur, a small village in Uttar Pradesh, where his nanny lives – he decides to set up a small hydroelectric power generation facility from a nearby water source, after mobilizing the reluctant villagers. The story ends with Mohan succeeding against all odds and the village finally getting sufficient, consistent power from it.

Leadership lesson:

The movie projects how leading change calls for leaders to take others along. Despite having a noble vision himself, it is only when he is able to influence the villagers at the micro-level and nudge them towards change that he is finally able to succeed in his endeavour.

Lagaan (2001):

It is an epic musical sports film set in the early 1890s, during the late Victorian period of India’s colonial British Raj. The story revolves around a small village in Gujarat whose inhabitants are unable to pay the high taxes and are challenged by an arrogant British officer to a game of cricket. The villagers would be absolved from paying all taxes, if they manage to win a game, against the British. The movie documents how the villagers, under the leadership of Bhuvan, learn the nuances of the game that is alien to them and with great determination and teamwork, finally win the game against the British to change their village’s destiny.

Leadership lesson:

The story is a shining example of leadership and building a high performance team. Bhuvan displays how leaders should model the way through his selflessness, viewing every problem as an opportunity, setting a vision, executing well, showing steely determination, assigning people to apt roles, and leading with confidence.

Chak De! India (2007):

A movie was based on the real life story of an Indian hockey player Mir Ranjan Negi, who faced allegations of letting down his country in a match against Pakistan. The film follows the journey of the Indian national women’s hockey team from being a ragtag group of players from diverse backgrounds to their win at the Manchester Commonwealth games, after being trained by Kabir Khan, who played Negi’s character.

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Leadership lesson:

The movie is a masterclass in showing resilience in the face of all odds. It also showcases the value of a leader, Kabir Khan and how he coaches an unruly gang of girls to think like a team and overcome impossible odds to rise above themselves and succeed.

Manjhi: The Mountain Man (2015):

Dashrath Manjhi is a poor man from a low caste, living in a remote village cut off from the world by a rocky mountain range. After he loses his wife to an accident – where she falls down a mountain while crossing it, he decides to carve out a path through the mountain, so that no one else would suffer his fate. Undeterred by the harsh elements and adversities, he sets out on a mission that spans for a period of 22 years carving a path through the mountains, all by himself, with just a hammer and a chisel.

Leadership lesson:

The movie is a stirring lesson that faith, resolution and hard work can truly move mountains. And being a leader does not need titles. Leadership is for anyone and everyone who is willing to take it up – as James Kouzes and Barry Posner say in The Leadership Challenge.

Super 30 (2019):

An inspiring true life story of the life of mathematics educator Anand Kumar and his unique educational program, this movie won both awards and hearts! Moved by the plight of poor students, who quit studies due to poverty, he starts his own coaching centre to impart free coaching to poor, yet bright students. The movie follows the torments, trials and tribulations he faces in this arduous journey. He gives them practical training and encourages them to learn all concepts in an easy and logical way. He is rewarded for his efforts when the first batch of 30 students take the IIT exam and all of them qualify successfully.

Leadership Lesson:

Anand Kumar exemplifies a leader’s role in motivating his students to always be ravenous for success. Very often, individuals lose the battle in their minds. Be it – poverty, hunger, lack of money or criminal attacks- he teaches them to face it head on, thus emphasizing the importance of having faith in self through adopting a growth mindset.

Lakshya (2004):

 This wardrama film portrays Karan Shergill, a character that develops from being an aimless young man into an army officer. The story unveils the metamorphosis of Karan after he joins the Indian Military Academy. Unable to handle the strict military discipline and tough life there, he initially runs away. Later, after reconciling with the situation, he returns to the academy and becomes a focused, disciplined officer cadet and eventually commissions into the Indian Army as a Lieutenant.  During the Kargil war, after being promoted as captain and heading a team of 12 men, he is assigned a tough and perilous project, which he completes successfully against all odds.

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Leadership Lesson:

Lakshya is a beautiful story of individual self-discovery. It is about how discovering one’s purpose completely catalyses a person towards a meaningful life.

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013)

It is a biographical sports drama film based on the life of Milkha Singh, “the flying sikh” – an Indian athlete who was a national champion and an Olympian. Losing his parents at an early age to the partition violence, he grows up in impoverished refugee camps, until he gets noticed by a havildar in the army, for his fast running skills. The movie goes on to trace how he goes on to achieve greater heights by overcoming greed, pain, hostility, mistakes and various challenges to finally win gold medals in the Asian Games.

Leadership Lesson:

The movie demonstrates that by following your dreams – setting goals, getting inspiration from people around you, adapting to different situations, having faith, earning things you desire with hard work and dedication –you can turn all your dreams into reality.

M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story (2016)

This is another brilliantly made biographical sports film  based on the life of former TestODI and T20I captain of the Indian national cricket teamMahendra Singh Dhoni. The movie shows the inspiring portrayal of Dhoni’s initial days as the wicket-keeper of his school’s cricket team and how he is encouraged to improve his batting skills by the cricket coach. There is also the portrayal of his struggle during the days he works as a ticket collector in the Railways, while trying to wedge- in time for cricket practice. Realizing his passion in life to be only cricket, he quits his job and trains hard for professional cricket. Leading and developing his team of men, he achieves fame by winning the T-20 World Cup match in the climax of the movie.

Leadership Lesson:

The movie inspires one to have faith in oneself and not get de-motivated by failures. More importantly, it spurs you to chase your dreams until your hard work pays off. Our destiny is in our hands!!!

Are there other Bollywood movies that inspired leadership in you? Do join the conversation!


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