Learning Management through Movies

 | September 24,2012 10:42 am IST

Can Management Education be imparted with the help of something as frivolous as watching movies? And Im not talking BBC documentaries or lecture videos from Harvard (telling us how beautiful our lives can get because of that new Economic theory.) What Im talking of are movies that we see purely for entertainment.

But isnt that a little ironical?


Arent movies supposed to be a source of entertainment? Some sort of respite from the stressful schedules, the rigors of assignments and the paranoia associated with GPAs and placements?
Isnt movie-watching far removed from the hustle and bustle of a B-School class, typically characterized by no-nonsense lectures, never ending PPTs and assignments, surprise quizzes and intense competition?

Movies give us those rosy fantasies where nothing can go wrongmanagement education throws at us those real- life problems which unlike in the movies, we may never be able to set right.
How then the twain shall align?

Had I been asked all this a couple of months back, I would have scoffed at the idea and probably the question too. But, here I am, writing about this and by now, the reader must have realized where this is heading to.

So what made me change my mind?

For starters, I joined MDI, Gurgaon and met teachers who not only were masters of their subjects but also champions in the art of generating interest about it. It was Prof. Ashok Kapoor (Faculty, Communications) who gave us the idea as a method of effective learning. Needless to say, people were skeptical. But then, after a few sessions, the results were there to see. Class participation had increased, classes were more interactive now and the theories which were so tough to remember earlier, were branded in the memory. The method was a masterstroke and one thing was for sure. at MDI its not about rote learning!

BUT, the question still remains. Does Salman Bhais Bodyguard really have hidden management lessons?


It may or it may not. This article is not written with an intention to prove that every other movie that is churned by our film industry is a disguised tutorial in management, but then there are movies which really teach us a lot and can act as wonderful tools to aid management education.
I will share my experiences of a few movies that we analyzed as a class during these two months.
Truth be told, it was a little troublesome to critically evaluate every scene in the movie from the perspective of Marketing strategies, Organizational behavior, Effective and Ineffective communications or HR practices. But it has now become a habit. We call it Watching movies: The MDI way

The first movie that we analyzed was Twelve Angry Men, the 1957 American film which was adapted from a teleplay of the same name. The film tells the story of a jury made up of 12 men as they deliberate the guilt or acquittal of a defendant when reasonable doubt exists. I had seen the movie before, but never could I have imagined that it could act as such a strong discourse for outlining the problems associated with Consensus-building, Communication barriers and Perception biases.

12 men Conflicting opinions Arguments Selective Filtering Noise Information overload!
It appeared as if somehow the chapter which deals with Barriers in effective communication had suddenly come alive. There were various instances in the movie when one or more of the jurors were depicted as taking a biased stand over some particular issue. Perception biases like stereotyping, halo effect and horn effect which act as an Achilles heel for administrative decision making were outlined. There also were insinuations of racial segregation and we could see how even educated people who were at such powerful positions, knowingly or unknowingly indulged in Racial profiling.

As an HR student, I found all this to be of particular interest. Reading about perception biases clouding decision making or the problems of building consensus is one thingto actually see them happening is another.

The other movie which was particularly enriching in terms of content and the value it provided was our very own Chak De India.

The film was actually arranged as a tool to help us understand the various tenets of Coaching and Mentoring in a better way. Throughout the course of the movie, we were encouraged to take note of the various ways in which SRK was able to inspire the Indian National Womens Hockey Team.

Ideas flew thick and fast, the class was abuzz with activity and it was remarkable to see how interesting the module had suddenly become. The one thing which everyone talked about was Passion. Shahrukh was passionateabout hockey, about winning. He wanted to instill the same passion and enthusiasm in each member of his team. Therein went our first lesson. A true mentor instills passion in the mentee.

Also, Shahrukh outlined the vision clearly. The players were playing for the Indian National Womens Hockey Team and were there to compete in the World Cup. Nobody was bigger than the team and nobody played for their State teams or for themselves. It was INDIA they were playing for.

A leader must play that unification role. He should unite and not divide. He should bring parity and he should bring cohesiveness.

Sometimes tough decisions have to be taken. Shahrukh as the coach of the team, made a senior player sit out. He also allowed himself to be perceived as a villain by everyone, just to get the team together and unify them. He was willing to be the fall-guy. That is the hallmark of a true mentor.


Sometimes, his decisions may not please the mentee, but then, those decisions have to be taken. Performance orientation was a highlight of the coachs working method. He was not bothered about past records, reputations or seniority. That objective approach was a key for the ultimate success. The importance of discipline cannot be overemphasized and we could see how discipline was inculcated. Mentors sometimes have to be hard taskmasters.

Another important aspect was the coachs emotional connect with most of the team members. A mentor isnt just a performance manager. He has to be a counselor, a father figure, someone whom the mentee looks up to in times of trouble! No decision about mentorship and Chak De India can ever be complete without talking about the Strategic role that must be played by the mentor. The movie is replete with instances where Shahrukh formulates effective strategies which help the team overcome all odds and become the world champions. A mentor should be a strategist par excellence. Last but not the least, who can forget the pep talk by Shahrukh Khan to the players in the dressing room just before the final match against Australia! The mentor should inspire, encourage and bring out the best from his pupils.


Its not been long here at MDI, and I already have something that Ill cherish forever. The practice of watching movies-the MDI way is sure to continue. And I am sure we will continue to enrich ourselves with this unique way of learning.

Until then.Cheers for those who came up with such awesome movies! And a sincere hope that we still have meaningful movies in the future.