By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | January 25, 2019
Challenges on Social Media have thrown some funny instances at us. There have been celebs trying to damage a Samsonite suitcase, while some warmed up to the #IceBucket Challenge, while still others are waiting for the delivery boy from the courier to ring their door bell. Remember the #BookChallenge?
The #10YearChallenge won’t be the last gimmick on Social Media to entertain bored netizens who are spending more time online ‘whilst at home’, than in their own homes, with their own family.
However, there are those who turn something as naive as the #10YearChallenge on its head to give it a completely new spin.
Opening Doorz to the #RajKaushalChallenge.
Raj, a one-man bundle of talent (better known as the husband of Mandira Bedi, has directed Bollywood films, numerous ads apart from directing music videos), posted a picture of himself 10 years ago on Facebook and gave it a positive feel sharing the reality of what he was going through at that point in time.
What he has done takes immense courage. It is heart-warming and at the same time uplifting.
Here is what his post read: “This #10yearchallenge was such an eye opener. This is me in 2010. The next few years were probably the worst in my life. I never asked anyone for any help or work. And guess what; no one even offered too.
But then look at me: I was a total mess. I had let myself go. My self-confidence was at an all-time low. Even If I had to hire someone like this ME in 2010, I wouldn’t.
The reason I am posting this picture is just to share with my friends that just like me all of us are in different phases in our lives—Some on a high, some listless and in a comfort zone, and some in a complete mess.
I am not trying to inspire anyone. But just sharing that it is ‘We’ who create our own Mess! The day we stop looking around us for help and decide to pull ourselves out of our mess is the day the Universe conspires. We and only WE shape our destiny. So if you are DOWN than please believe you are not OUT. Get up and reboot. Stop doing all that is not working. Let go off the baggage. Untie useless bonds and goals. Forgive all who you had expectations from. And Unleash the new improved YOU.
Life is beautiful and each one of us is special. Let’s show the world who we really are. We are our own limit. The sky is just something we look beyond.”
Fascinated and inspired with his no-frills-attached post which laid bare his past, we caught up with Raj up to inquire more about ‘that point in time’ and how he is now having the time of his life!
How would you place yourself now, professionally, as opposed to 10 years ago and how did the upward climb begin?
Today I am in a very good place. The day I stopped running the race is the day I started competing only with me. And then it was no longer a race. No start line and no finish. No stress and no expectation.
I actually started enjoying what I did and starting putting my heart into it. I did and do work now that makes me wake up without an alarm clock and raring to go. End of day, I sleep with a smile on my face. Another aspect I changed was doing things for money.
You don’t want to earn money?
Don’t get me wrong. We all need money. Today, I try to put my 100 per cent in everything I do: whether it’s a Rs 1 lakh film or a Rs 1 crore film. Another thing I tried to change is ‘Not’ to take myself too seriously. I didn’t want to be a Mukesh Ambani or even a Satyajit Ray. Nor is it even important to be a Raj Kaushal. This journey or quest is not towards fame, fortune or glory. It’s towards good Karma. It’s about trying to be the best human I can be. And if in my hands I have the power to inspire, motivate, uplift or change even one life, than I have lived a truly blessed life.
Did you ever feel the weight of being Mandira Bedi’s husband?
Mandira as a phenomenon started in 2003. She had found her space. I was and still am very proud of her. As her husband, it never made me insecure. In fact in 2007, when I directed Anthony Kaun Hain with Sanjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi both of us were riding super high in our careers.
When did you realize you had to strap your boots?
In 2008, I had a mild heart attack. That was the shocker and the beginning of a slump. I had bitten more than I could chew. As they say, the seven-year bad luck had struck. From then onwards my life plumetted. Anything that I wanted to do would fall apart. It was like I was fighting with the universe. That’s when I felt lazy, uninspired, defeated and a has-been.
Did you ever feel the weight in your body: I mean did you ever feel lazy, defeated?
Every time I renewed my energy I would fall to an even deeper low. I guess that was the phase for me to stop fighting my fate and accept all the things I was doing wrong. I was running after things that I actually never wanted, needed or desired. I was going after all that I didn’t need. Thankfully, both Mandira and I are financially sound and we never really, post 2006, had to work for survival money. The house ran on auto pilot.
How did the shift in mind come about after being beaten to the ground?
The shift from fame, fortune and glory towards small simple things is really where it all triggered. I think I started by planting a tree, and then several trees. I had the free time so I started helping others in need. Sometimes just being a shoulder or ears to people’s woes—a place for them to vent. In doing so I would forget my own issues and more importantly, learnt that no one had time to hear my crap. Everyone has enough in their lives already.
Then came the phase of doing small things like helping a beggar, speaking to an old friend, reconnecting with people, supporting an employees’ child’s education and doing small good things in a day to make the day eventful. Slowly, I started appreciating the sunrise and mornings. You need to wake up positive to take on a day.
So these, doing small, things to uplift another’s life really got you back on track?
I guess all these learning did start teaching me a little bit of patience and kind of matured me towards human emotions rather than material things. It’s these teachings that I started pumping back into my work. People who knew me would still give me a stray adfilm to do. I started putting my heart into it. All around me, my contemporaries in the industry were retiring or disappearing. The scenario was changing. I had to reinvent if I had to survive.
So I started by hiring young assistants: kids with super zeal and zero experience. I started to understand them better, to understand the need of the times. I started to reinvent my shot-taking, my preference in music, my reaction to a moment—from loud and dramatic to soft and subtle. It was my period of metamorphosis: It was in my hand to become a butterfly or a moth. So yes, it was this change internally in my mind and attitude and the sense of zero pressure that maybe has made me today the man I am and has gotten me back on track, as you say.
Are you game to take the #RajKaushalChallenge, to inspire with your story of when the chips were down; of when you never wanted to wake up?
Everyone needs to read Raj Kaushal’s honest and courageous revelation. After all, everyone has strength, but it takes courage!
Take a bow, Mr. Raj Kaushal!
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