The Sholay Factor

For the uninitiated Sholay  is one of the biggest blockbusters in India.  One of the most popular characters were Gabbar and Thakur. What’s the moral of their story? Lets decode Gabbar and Thakur.

Thakur : The classic hard working guy. Went about doing things the right way, lost his family, happiness and even his hands! To reach his goal, he had to head hunt, interview, run simulations and then do a pilot project before going live. He had to engage extra resources, spend more money time and energy to keep them motivated over a period of time.

And after all that, he was still unhappy. He was patient, he was sensitive and even tried the reverse psychology ( like giving them the keys to the vault, smartly executed by the daughter in law) with his wards to get to his goal. The delegation of responsibility , conflict resolution and a pay for performance strategy were his key strategies.

The end result was he got to his goal with a lot of collateral damage. He had to resort to heroics and come up with one-time superlative performances which took a toll on his team and self.

Gabbar : The instant gratification guy. The Go-getter. Whatever he wanted, he wanted now. Quick execution capabilities, agile, moved quickly, was objective and not emotional, hired workhorses rather than intelligent strategists and got work done quicker than this counterpart.Grew up the gangland hierarchy quickly. Found a work life balance, engaged in salsa time as well. His life was binary. Yes or no, true or false, 1 or 0  – so his actions were simple. This simplicity was easily understood by his team mates and they collectively executed with a single sense of focus. No distractions.

Gabbar ensured that he reviewed non performers and took quick action for the rest of the team to follow. Good leadership material.He followed the 80/20 rule – and kept the control centralized. The communication flow was top down and clear.He had the “killer-instinct” and gave no room for under performers. It was not worth carrying a member who could not carry his own weight.

This worked well till the very end. He could have avoided the climax had he leveraged his agility skills which actually kept him going for better part of his tenure. He could ve innovated and moved to another geography and added a new skill set – found a blue ocean…instead of fighting out the red ocean strategy. But notwithstanding the final result he could argue his success ratio was higher than Thakur!

Now think back to your hiring strategies and results, think about all the mentoring, coaching and training that you imparted towards ramping up resources, think about the effort sheet that went into making that team or unit successful, and then analyze  who would you hire for your team? Think about how your leadership style is ? Think about how you would land the ideas, the execution strategies and tactics and achieve the goals.



7 thoughts on “The Sholay Factor


    Lessons to Learn from Gabbar Singh


    Indeed, Gabbar Singh is the most quoted bollywood villian of all times. Not just this, with some seriously good script writing by Salim – Javed, there’s timeless wisdom in Gabbar Singh’s character.

    Gabbar was more than just a ruthless dacoit he was also a management and marketing genius. Just have a look at all that we can learn from his enterprising character.

    1. Jo dar gaya samjho mar gaya

    This is the most timeless lesson from Gabbar Singh. Courage and enterprise are the most important factors for laying the successful foundation of a growth oriented organization or a happy life.

    2. Kitne aadmi thhey?

    As part of business strategy Gabbar Singh made it a point to understand his competition and knowing that his team was defeated by only two people he understood that even a small team can make a difference .

    3. Arre o Samba, kitna inaam rakhe hai sarkar ham par

    Gabbar knew the importance of promoting one’s own brand. He put it very nicely. When mothers put their kids to sleep saying “so jao nahi toh Gabbar aa jayega” , you know that brand value is built by shamelessly promoting your business.

    4. Chhe goli aur admi teen.. bohot naa insaafi hai!

    Gabbar Singh had a sense of sarcasm and sadism. He created an illusion that his people had a chance of survival. He kills them in the next scene. Moral: – Perform or you will perish .

    5. Le, ab goli kha!

    Sometimes in the interest of the organization the management has to take some hard decisions. He always put the interest of his establishment before himself. So sometimes he had to ‘fire’ some employees.

    6. Bahut yarana lagta hai!

    Gabbar was good at recognizing emotions and how to milk them for his own good. Through close observation, he found out that Basanti and Veeru were madly in love with each other.

    So, he motivated her to shake a leg by threatening her that ‘jab tak tere pair chalenge iski saanse chalengi’. He had a good sense of timing while applying the ‘carrot and stick approach’.

    He was also a lover of music and dance. Mehbooba Mehbooba was his favorite bonfire song.

    7. ‘Bohot pachtaogey Thakur’

    Gabbar never took superficial decisions. Thakur put him behind the bars. He made a promise to himself that ‘Bohot pachtaogey thakur’, and returned from prison to obliterate Thakur’s family and chop off those very limbs that put him behind prison walls.

    It shows his resoluteness. Very important factor for success.

    8. Tera kya hoga Kaaliya?

    This statement shows how much employee feedback is given to the management decisions are taken at the Board of directors meetings only.

    9. Tu kya ladega mujhse Thakur!

    Final lesson. Never underestimate your competition. Gabbar had robbed Thakur of his arms but not of his willpower and intelligence. He finally brings Gabbar to his feet and ends his reign.

    Long live Gabbar and his isms! Amen.

  2. Irrespective of the field and oceans – blue or red, you need a mix of both. A Gabbar is irreplaceable to stay a step ahead in cut and thrust of daily market place warfare; a Thakur highly vaunted when landing the qbr and looking at horizons beyond the quarter. Need both, worse case look for blend of attributes. Why limit to one?

    • Thanks for reading Tapanc – Yes,you do need both – but is it possible? Its almost like asking for Superman. Thakur + Gabbar = Superman! and I am not sure if Superman needs a job or a QBR. 🙂

Your Thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s