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L&D Lessons from Bollywood Megastar Kareena Kapoor

Kareena Kapoor

About a year ago, the movie Singham Returns hit movie theaters across India. On my most recent trip, I was reminded of an interview that actress Kareena Kapoor gave during her promotional tour for the movie. Re-reading the newspaper interview, I was struck by the similarities between a Bollywood megastar and a learning and development professional.

Ok, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but humor me and see if any of these sound bites from the interview resonate with you. 

Everyone asks me what it is about Singham Returns and why I said yes to the film.”

Basically she was being asked why she would agree to a part that’s just another cog in the wheel of a big, blockbuster film (why not hold out for a part that truly lets her artistic abilities and depth of character shine?). Similarly, there are many voices in the L&D community insisting that we can’t just be order takers, that we should hold out for investing our time in training efforts that will really have a major impact on the organization.

So for me, it’s like being a part of Iron Maneven Iron Man requires a leading lady! But it’s not an earth-shattering part (smiles).”

Similarly to Ms. Kapoor’s attitude, not every training program will be earth-shattering or organization-altering. Holding a hard line on “we can’t be a department of order-takers” may come across as exceedingly snobby and can lead to ill-will between the L&D team and other parts of the organization.

The most important thing is that they have a right to be someone and pursue their dreams. There are these small girls from different places… but not many people know about it. That’s why we tapped into this subject and I told UNICEF I want to be a part of education.”

During this part of the interview, she’s talking about her work in helping educate underserved populations in remote areas. In order to amplify these efforts, she was able to tap in to UNICEF.

When L&D efforts are truly successful, they can similarly help working professionals to grow, move up the corporate ladder, pursue their dreams. Sometimes, however, we need help from parts of the organization that have a broader reach – the executive team, groups of middle managers, the talents of marketing and communications. Good content, good design and good intentions can only get us so far, sometimes relationships with key influencers across the organization are at least as important.

I think it was mum’s upbringing. She just kept us so basic, that’s what has paid off. The fact that she’s always told us never to take success and failure so seriously.”

Towards the end of the interview, she was asked to look back and share what she was proud of. She shared the influence that her mother had on her. It’s an important reminder. Having a mentor to bounce ideas around or to serve as a sounding board is essential for anyone – whether a Bollywood superstar or an L&D professional.

What do you think? What other lessons can be transferred from the glamorous lives of high profile superstars to the learning and development field?

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