My Monthly Salary

June 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

I think an individual’s monthly salary is what is ruling the world today. In my journey of making LUCIA I have understood how much importance an individual gives to the words – ‘My Monthly Salary’. I haven’t till date had the opportunity to fully enjoy the luxury of a monthly salary. I had it for a very brief period, for 5 months in 2006 and I honestly feel that those 5 months were my lazy days and time that was wasted, I made no progress in life in those 5 months. But that is just me, I have had a weird lifestyle and a career. I honestly wonder how it works for everyone. A monthly salary is a duvet. You for sure know that whether the work you are doing fails or succeeds, you are going to get the monthly salary. Isn’t it right? Yes I agree that if the performance of an individual is not good or progressive, they get fired. But in today’s times I think getting fired is not so scary anymore. Job hopping seems to be part of the game.

My reason to write this or even think about it is because with LUCIA I am ending up having a whole lot of meetings with people in corporate offices and I am seeing a different work culture in there. In the last 10 years I had to move my ass and work pretty hard to afford to pay my monthly bills. I mean every month was and still is a war. I don’t know how I will pay my bills next month and that makes me think and helps me do new stuff, thankfully I enjoy the process, I am not complaining about it. The whole uncertainty of my life gives me an opportunity to come up with new work, which I must do and succced to pay my bills. I am quite lucky that I am stubborn, and that my mind doesn’t let me do something else or something easy to get the money. I only think and work in the areas of my interest, which in the last 7 years has been FILMS.

Anyway, in the process of trying to get sponsorships I am having lots of meetings with the employees of big MNC’s. The blunt truth is that all these people are just enjoying their salaries. I am wondering if this article will come across as my ramblings because of some rejections I am facing on the sponsorship front. That is not my intention, I am only making an honest disassociated observation. I guess an example from Lifeu Ishtene would make you understand what I am trying to say.

A BIG Brand (not taking name to avoid being sued) was part of in-film branding for Lifeu Ishtene, I am sure many of you didn’t even notice that brand, thanks to the agency and the people in the agency. My producer got some money from the deal, but what did BIG Brand get? NOTHING. If I was the owner of BIG Brand I’d be pretty pissed off with this investment. As a director and the writer who knew every detail of the script, I had offered multiple branding ideas to the representatives of the BIG Brand, this whole deal was happening through an agency. So some salaried guy at the agency takes my proposal, puts his master mind into it and says X is wrong and Y is good. I try to tell him that X is good for the brand but the agency guy wants to throw his power around and says that it is either Y or no deal at all. Now, I am the kind of guy who would not like to take the money from BIG Brand and give them no branding at all. I want the guy who owns the BIG Brand to be happy with me for what I did for his brand in return for the money he invested in my project. But I am never given an opportunity to meet that BIG guy, it is always the salaried employees in an agency who inturn are discussing with the salaried employes of the BIG Brand. The BIG guy from the BIG brand (who is responsible for the money) and Me (the director of the film) never get to meet. A few weeks passed by and my producer came in with a signed contract, I looked into it and wanted to laugh. BIG Brand was giving us money for 5 things that I had to incorporate in the movie. And just by reading those pointers I knew that BIG Brand was losing money. I tried to tell this to the agency but they said a contract is a contract and I have to simply follow it. We followed it. Did the brand make anything out of it, I don’t think so. Was there an opportunity to make something good out of it – YES, BIG TIME! These guys who were representing the brand and who had spoken to me as though they are concerned about the brand, left the agency and moved to better paying jobs in some other agency even before the movie released. They didn’t have any personal responsibility on what had happen to the money the brand had invested in. I got the money for the producer and yet I felt bad for the Brand. There was so much more I could have given them, if not for those salaried employes.

I feel that a job shouldn’t be just about salaries. It should be more than that, right? I am facing something similar with LUCIA as well. The salaried employee has nothing to lose, they will get their salary irrespective of what happens, and if they are blamed, they will simply move to another job. I was discussing about this with some of the guys in senior positions in the management and they said that this was the growing trend. Simply do the job by the book, file the results, take the salary. No one takes the risk of trying out something new, to fight with the people in the higher positions. Everyone is trying to impress the person above them, even if they know that it is wrong.

I guess there is another side to this, no matter how hard the guy works he is only given his monthly salary, no perks no recognition, so he eventually loses interest and doesn’t feel responsible for the growth or the progress of the company or the brand.

Its a strange world. Not everyone can work for passion and not everyone can work for salaries. The guy who takes a salary and feels protected, doesn’t show much interest in the growth of the company (I am not saying everyone is like this, but I met many in the last 4 months, and they all came across as people with this attitude). On the other hand, my team in LUCIA is purely in for the passion and the madness, there is no salary, I mean there is no money at all. All of us are somehow surviving and putting in all the time and the money into the movie, and yet everyone’s thought is so progressive.

Want to end this article with an example. My associate director – Mahesh, told me about some costumes that had to be sent for washing. I told him to let the costume department know about it and they would get it washed, saying that I left from the office and was wondering if I should just take them home and put it in the machine myself, but didn’t act on that thought. Later in the evening Mahesh and I met again and I asked him if he got the costume dept to come in and take care of the washing. And the answer was shocking! Mahesh called the guy but he was going to charge 400 bucks to do the job. Mahesh on his own decided to save that 400 bucks from the little fund that we have to make this film, so he buys a sachet of washing powder and washes the costumes. He didn’t even consult me about this, it was his own decision. I was willing to pay the 400 bucks for washing if I was asked but I really respect his initiative because it is progressive. we have 51lakh and 400rs is a small amount, and yet he valued that. My team knows that we are making a BIG movie with very little funds and I am glad that they have taken the situation so seriously that they make decisions like these on their own. This is the kind of the involvement that I found lacking in the people I am meeting in well paying jobs.

Is a monthly salary making people lazy and depriving them of the need to work towards progress and innovation? Many a times I miss the comfort of a monthly salary, but the kick I derive in resolving the challenges seem more comforting. This is what I am saying now, I hope I say the same thing a year or a decade later :)