This was due for quite some time. Yes – of course I am talking about the Bipasha Basu starrer Corporate. At a personal level the movie left me rather disquieted. Not that the plot was unexpected or anything, but still – a bare presentation brings out the fears and anxieties that you bury undercover thinking that everyone survives; so there must be a way to do so.
But that apart, what I found the best thing in the movie is the nuanced representation of “ethical” and “unethical” behaviour from individual’s point of view. The last movie that I had seen having equally good nuanced representation of human motives, feelings and genuine confusions and dilemmas was “Rang De Basanti“. Coming back to Corporate, the noticeable thing is that how some of the same people who do not mind bribing politicians, sending spies to rival companies’ offices and even outrightly putting personal dignity at stake to out do the rivals can’t help thinking about ethics when it comes to playing with the life of general public. The discomfort shown by Navin and Nishi (Bipasha) in getting out the pesticide infested drink in the market shows that. However, all is not black and white even at this stage. While Navin unhesitatingly takes the decision of quitting, Nishi did not/could not do that thinking of her career, her relationship or probably nothing in particular (I do not know which). But that she is anxious and undecided in clear throughout. Of course, that among all those remaining on-board through the decision to roll out the drink she was the one most disturbed, and yet she became the one to suffer the worst ultimately is the dramatic part of the story.
But let’s get back to the dilemma about “ethical” and “unethical” behaviour, particularly in the context of business and corporates. Navin and Nishi, like all other colleagues of theirs, are shown to go to any levels “to get the thing done”. Examples of which I have mentioned earlier. Yet, when it comes to launching the drink that could be harmful for people, they get the pangs of moral scruples. This was the comparison presented by Vinay Sehgal to chide Nishi and ridiculing her idea of ethics. And this is something almost all of us will ask. Were they being hypocritical? What I think is that one needs to differentiate between “rules of game” and more basic ideas of right and wrong. Although rigorous philosophical analysis may conclude otherwise, but most of us would differentiate between the act of bribing a politician to win a bid and bringing out a unhealthy product that may play with people’s lives. When you play with people’s lives, there is a more basic ideology of right and wrong, beyond the context of business world or anything, that gets violated. While we may feel disgusted at corruption, the crime of murder is simply unacceptable. Human life is not something we are ready to allow anyone to play with.
Are there two kinds of ethics then? One is more like “rules of game” and is contextual. The judgment of that may change with time or place. What may be considered fine in one era, may be considered wrong in another. Whereas the other kind relates to things more fundamental like respect for life. May be, may be not. Even respect for human life has not been sacrosanct through out the history. There have been periods in the history of various civilizations when the human life was pretty much dependent on the whims of a powerful ruler. But still – for quite some time in the history, there have been those who have preached the love for the life of fellow beings and have been well accepted and respected in the society.
Beyond the debate, at the personal level, there is a clear message. You got to be careful. You have to decide for yourself where your line is and how much you can take. And do not let others question the reasoning for that line and let them you push further. Its a battle-field, but team-work and team-dedication is all right only to a certain point. Ultimately everyone is for himself/herself. Yes – behind those parties and social gatherings, where everyone appears to be the best pal of the other, “first name basis” culture, “cool” attitude, its a cold world out there.
P.S. A word of caution for MBA aspirants and their parents. You do not start your job after MBA at the level at which people shown in the movie work. Its about top management and it takes time (quite a bit of that) to reach there. So, be moderate in your expectations. 😉