#cajobportal Insights #211216 Career Ambitions that take you ‘La La Land’ out of the ‘Dangal’

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2016!! The surreal year that it was. It was certainly a year of the Unpredictable! A year that saw the indomitable spirit of people who wanted to prove their mettle on that The One Job and thus passion, fulfillment, self-actualization all packed into it.

A Modi executing demonetization, a Jaitley seeing GST sail past all odds, a Trump trumping all odds against him,  a Brexit stumping the world

Girls who wanted to “lean in” to their careers, not just love lives; who wanted to be YouTube famous than just pretty princesses, girls who became PV Sindhus and Sakshi Maliks, girls who thanked God that Its Monday as it allowed them to go and conquer the world

In context of this, we watched two movies ‘La La Land’ and ‘Dangal’ leave us with some profound lessons.

These are enacted in two completely different settings- Hollywood and Haryana. Yet, the link perhaps is in the word “Dream”.

In ‘La La Land’, individuals pursuing “careers” and “success” with relentless focus end up in places and with people very different from what they had dreamt of.

In ‘Dangal’, it’s about the dream of one man pursued with unwavering passion. It is not about music or acting or jazz, it is about excelling in a “male sport”: wrestling.

“La La Land”

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The film’s title is a reference to both a nickname for the city of Los Angeles as well as a euphemism for a state of being out of touch with reality

It’s all about dreamers, and it may make you want to throw caution to the winds and remember you’re a dreamer, too.

Sebastian, a musician, and Mia, an actress, try to make it big in life.

He cannot pay his bills but continues to pursue jazz gigs.

She works at a coffee shop on a movie set lot, scrambling to get to auditions between shifts.

With positivity all around, can the attainment of goals be far behind

He had to put his dreams of owning his own jazz club on hold for a while and join a band that played music he didn’t particularly like. It might not have been part of his master plan, but he did what he needed to do to achieve his goals. As unfair as life can often be, it was a smart move that allowed him to keep working towards his goals

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This movie showcased how positivity can make that huge difference. Sebastian never missed a chance to let Mia know that she is amazing and talented and Mia never let Sebastian forget about his goals. Even her friend cheered her up after a failed audition and showed up to her one-woman show. Sebastian pushed Mia to trust her own writing and acting abilities, in-spite of all odds and helped her attain her goals.

“You could just write your own rules,” Sebastian says to Mia. “You know, write something that’s as interesting as you are.” Mia scoffs at first, but then she tries it. After all, isn’t she too young to settle? At least without trying her damnedest first?



Back home, the movie ‘Dangal’ crossed the INR 100 crore mark in just 3 days and left behind invaluable lessons for life. Based on the true story of Phogat sisters, the movie traces their journey from the wrestling pits of Haryana to winning medals at the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Goal Setting & Execution

The national coach sets the goal of Bronze Medal for Geeta, while Mahavir Singh sets the goal of Gold Medal for Geeta.

He comments –  “If you bring Silver people will forget you one day or another but if you win Gold then you will set a precedent which will be told again and again & not forget.”

Plus the focus was not on glib talk but rather execution and setting new benchmarks.



In your organization, is your Goal Setting process so designed that it does not allow anyone to settle for anything less than the best. Also, does the evaluation process separate the grain from the chaff, the talkers from the doers?

Talent Acquisition and Gender Diversity

We are talking about Haryana – a state with one of the worst sex-ratio and not really known for gender equality especially in the time the movie is set. And add to that wrestling – a sport not that well identified with women.

He picks up all his trophies and puts them in a box, symbolising how he he has given up on this one wish. It is only later, when he is told that his daughters handed a solid beating to two boys, the coach in him spots talent in the little girls. And then the man in him realises that it is not only boys who can win medals.

So after first expecting a baby boy to complete his dream of the medal, he decides to go ahead with existing resources (daughters) and enables them to achieve the target of winning the international Gold Medal

He comments

“My daughters are not any less than any boy.”


“I was always sad that if I had a son then he would win a Gold for the country.  But the thing I didn’t understand is that a Gold is Gold whether it is brought by a Girl or a Boy.”

1   In Talent Acquisition, often HR teams of companies spend too much time in searching for that elusive perfect candidate. Isn’t it better to move ahead, optimizing on what is available and proceeding towards your goals?

Coming to Gender Diversity, soon after he realizes that it’s the gold which matters at the end, rather it’s won by a boy or a girl, he sets out in earnest in pursuit of his goals. The girl child proves that nothing beyond her grasp if she receives encouragement and sets her mind and heart in the achieving of her stretch goal. So the journey of women to more and more positions in the CXO suite may not be very far

Learning & Development

 Mahavir Singh started building and training his girls from a very early age when girls often just roam around and play. He realized that champions are not made in a single day.


So L&D can and should assume strategic significance in your companies. Rather than hiring super expensive CXO from outside, isn’t it a great idea to catch them young and groom them with a long sighted vision.

Coaching and Mentoring

Mahavir Singh plays the roles of both Coach and Mentor for both Geeta and Babita throughout their career, even when they were being trained by the national coach.

He comments

  “As a father, I will not be there always to protect you; I can only teach you to fight but it is only you who has to fight your own battle.”


123After a hard day’s training, while his daughters are asleep, the tough cookie Phogat crumbles, and is seen pressing his daughters’ tired legs. That’s when he remarks: “I can be either their father or their coach at any one point of time, not both



Taking a comments from the book ‘Akhada: The Authorized Biography of Mahavir Singh Phogat’ “While other children of our age would sleep cosily in their beds, we were expected to be at the pit for training even before the cock crowed.

“We would often be bawling and making a spectacle of ourselves in front of villagers, who would wake up hearing our cries at dawn. The villagers started calling him a “devil” for making us cry so often.

Geeta even mentions how Mahavir’s entire personality changed once he was in the pit.

She is quoted as saying, “Papa became a completely different person as a coach. Back at home, he would talk to us and play pranks on us. But all this stopped when he took to coaching. His jokes and pranks were replaced by commands and reprimands.”

Did we not hear stories about how Pullela Gopichand, coach of PV Sindhu who won a Silver medal at the Olympics earlier this year, confiscated her mobile phone, made her go through rigorous exercises, didn’t allow her to meet friends, banned her having ice-cream, and all such stuff?

Do you have that strict leader, the ‘Haanikarak Bapu’ in your organization who grooms the young dreamers, even if it’s being a strict disciplinarian, who can balance being a father and a coach?

Can he/she push the young management trainees to the envelope, thus thrusting them into a world of trial and hard work, yet a caring and loving boss, who worries for his juniors too?

Summing Up

For those who at some point gave up on their career passions, the two movies will make them recollect that field they wished they could have explored, the internship they deleted from their resume when they had to “get serious” or the dream they left on the pages of an old journal.

So these movies would want you to throw caution to the winds and remember you’re a dreamer, too. And execute the same with élan!!

Happy Dreaming!!