Recently I had a really upset fan write to me, who reacted adversely to a TV interview of mine on National TV. Where I said that I was far more comfortable with failure than I ever will be with success. He thought I was looking down upon those that are working hard and striving to succeed.

But that is the truth. All my creativity has come to me at times when the world ignores me. It gives me the space to get in touch with myself. Of the hundreds of people that ask my advice on their future in this bussiness, I say don’t know. But I do say that today I live on the ideas and thoughts that i battled with when I walked the streets of failure. I still do.
Imagine a an arrow. The further back you stretch the bow, the more focussed your arrow will be. That tautness, that tension you create by pulling the string of the bow back, is the tautness of failure.
The air on the top of a mountain is too rarified. You have to come down to street level to breathe in the oxygen.

35 thoughts on “failure

  1. in the words of MT:
    “You see, in the final analysis.
    It is between you and God –
    It is never between them and you anyway.”
    hope you are well.

  2. Hi Shekhar,
    Heart says that what you say about role of failure or your comfort level with failure is true. Its said about sadness also that it purifies a person as he is more able to turn his consciousness towards his innerbeing. Author Agyeya had written similar things as cover note in one of his brilliant novel” Nadi ke Dweep”. Failure or feeling of not getting success to the extent what others expect from one, keeps alive the desire to create in that person and he is more creative and focus. And as nobody is going to share his failures so he is left alone and if he has courage then he will create more.
    As Tagore wrote in one of his poem that when he was searching God and reached at the door, where God lives then outside of the door he became fearful that if he meets the God then his journey is finished and then what after meeting the God? So he writes I came back without knocking the door of God.
    Is it not the same thing your wanderer monk friend said that God is in the journey and not at the end of journey.
    As I said that heart says that this failure hypothesis is right but mind also wish to add one more thing that there should be a stage where even success cant stop the way of creativity and person is creative in both the stages whether this creativity is treated as success or failure. They both are ephemeral which cant sustain with the constant tension of a live and conscious life.
    Thanks a lit for this site and your thoughts. Journey here is wonderfully creative.

  3. I remember reading in one of your interviews recently, your thoughts on the impending (as in disaster) digital revolution. While Iam sure it is going to happen, Iam still wondering if it will change the history of cinema for the better. It will empower a lot of aspiring film makers like me. But I think it will be at too big a cost. The demystification of cinema.

  4. Hi Shekar,
    i am a software engineer working for a MNC. it just happened, i have an excellent story of a assistant director who falls in love witha muslim girl and interacts with her for a couple of weeks but he is not able to see her face.
    if you find it interesting please let me know
    not expecting any rewards.

  5. The battle is never between U and the world or the society, the war is always fought within the framwork of mind, the battle is between U n U. Well one U plays the role of true self and the other takes the side of the society, If the second one wins person will be stuck in the cycle of life and death or wht i call it 9 to 5 job, If the first one wins there might be some failures in the outside world but there would PEACE and FREEDOM deep inside…………forever.

  6. yes,i thought you were celebrating failure as an artefact post success. That is easy.
    What I think is the nub of your being is the ability to defy what is expected and thus push against the lattice of the unknown. Opening yourself to the river of experience as it comes gushing t0 drown you, and then when you face that one epiphanic rush as you draw your head up and shake off the drops of sweat, that is what is true of your failure-success yoyo.It is a dialectic to which I am so afraid to open up to. Once you dare to, I guess, creative “good” comes your way. “deaing” with being in hollywood required you to take tha first step. BUt that moment is frightening for lesser mortals.And yet for us, that first step ties you into bonds of inertia, fear. Tell, how does one become free of it. I think your spirituality is really genuine and would be extremely good to hear of your path to your own little nuggets , experientially derived. Existence can’t be defined and yet so few learn to acknowledge it.We are compulsive doers. How frightening it is to be left without TV, book, blog, and yet creativity springs from facing your discomfort, the churning inside the gut in lonely times. Danke schon!!

  7. I was just wondering if I could meet up with you over coffee when you are in Delhi the next time around… no agenda really, aise hi.
    I know you do not respond to queries, but I’d still be happy to have an email from you…

  8. Hi Sir,
    I have started to ‘discover’ your site. Was roaming through your thoughts when found this wonderful piece. The role of failure in defining success. In the movie Lagan I saw for the first time an Indian director defying stereotypes and using black color of clouds to signify happiness. Black never used to be the color of happiness. Ashutosh found it or invented it. Similarly, you have discovered the role of failure in shaping success. Failure works on different paradigms. It has ceased to be the opposite of success. You have given it the world of its own. However, it is not as easy as it seems. Success has always been relational, failure is always personal. One may use period of failure to introspect oneself. It can bring you closer to yourself, but it doesnot guarantee your self discovery. Failure veiwed in terms of success can be catastrophe.
    Thanks and Regards

  9. Harivanshray Bachchan once said.. “Man ka ho to acha, Man ka no ho, to bhi acha”. Equanimity in failure is key to success. Even Amitabh Bachchan, in a recent interview said “There is no person on the earth who has never experienced ‘mayoosi’ and ‘nirasha'”. An experience of failure is like the fire that purifies the gold.
    Acharya Aaatreya, famous Telugu movie composer said in one his memorable songs ‘Agadhamavu Jalanidi lo na aanimuthyamu unnatule, Sokana Manuguna daagi Sukhamu unnadile’ – Just like the pearl is hidden in the depths of the ocean, joy is buried under the waters of sorrow’. How profound!
    Unless one has experienced the pangs of failure, how can he be really complete? If The Gita says that ‘He who treats success and failure as the same is a Stitha Pragna (Complete Man)’, then one has to be overwhelmed by both to then reflect and realise that the two impostors are the same (Rudyard Kipling’s An ideal to live by)!

  10. In Perfection
    When I see it in my head
    Why can’t I make it through my hands?
    What block still keeps falling between
    My sight, and my sleight of hand?
    The dam will burst one day I’m sure
    And the block will go away,
    But why should creation forever be
    So violent,
    Like your Big Bang?
    Yes I agree after that gore
    The music of nature more than soothed
    The scar from that difficult child
    But must I endure the tremendous pain
    Of labour yes, but also harbour
    A doubt, more paining in me?
    What guarantee there is
    That the work I deliver
    Will be nature perfect?
    Ha you laugh! Perfection for Man!
    Impossible, you smirk.
    It is only right, you whimper haughtily
    For man to strive to be;
    Perfection should exist, you say, in its job
    Of existing always an attempt away!
    Laugh, go on – you have all the right
    Please continue laughing at me,
    For I too am not silent!
    I am busy mocking at you.
    You are cursed with eternal imperfection
    You who created the imperfect me!

  11. Hello Sir,
    Your bow analogy was wonderful. I also luckily saw one of your interviews, in which you have talked of your forth coming film -pani… it was really very impressive… i was actually touched with the fact that you put forward i.e. the people living in huts and pavements laugh more than the people living in lavish flats…I really look forward to the movie and I hope you start working on it soon and we get to see it soon..and wish you all the best for the same..

  12. Hello Shekhor πŸ™‚ we met in the design museum…..i was working there and we paused for a moment where ever we were and had a converstion.The Alan Fletcher exhibition was on show. I lost the piece of paper you’d written this site on for a good while but look! I found it πŸ™‚ i didnt know where to write you a message so this is where it will be. while i’m here i’ll tell you about my ideas about success and failure.
    why is it that human being are concerned with this idea so much? Probably because they do not undertand that they are already successful. Isnt it amazing that the universe has no rules outsite the fundamental laws of gravity etc. We can create whatever we want! our only limitation is what we think we should or shouldnt create, usually ideas that we have borrowed from others. At the moment i still have to remind myself of this truth! i can design it how i want it to be! No earthly rules or formulas….just visualisation and knowledge of the truth! This excites me everyday!!! so there is no way we can fail because we created the situation and the universe responded…we put the thought out there, asked for it and the wish was granted, is granted! Regardless of what the wish was. Thats the extent of the freedom we have πŸ™‚ we are already successful because we are all creating our world everyday. The key is understanding this and taking control and spreading the news of love however we choose to do so:)
    i love learning about people and how their lives. Thats my life πŸ™‚ i think your web site is a really good idea…putting your thought down and getting comments and feedback. i’d like to do that too.
    Priscilla x

  13. Dear Mr. Kapur,
    I am Shankar P., a writer and editor with Knowledge@Wharton, a biweekly business journal published by The Wharton School in Philadelphia. We would like to establish contact you for a story featuring your proposed $500 million fund. We would like to publish that in our Indian edition ( that was launched last November.
    Could you please email me at with your contact information, including an email address to which I can send a note with details of our story plan?
    I am based in New Jersey/Philadelphia and can be reached at 1-848-391-2322. Could you please pass along your phone number and a time when I could call you?
    Thank you, and best regards,

  14. Hi there
    Yes its true what you say. I am 31 year old looking at the times that i stop being lazy and do something about my creativity and the burden to tell stories. When the times are really tough, great things come out. I guess that much of you are in, tat piece of concentrated work. I guess thats the middle way anyway, when you read on spiritual gurus they all preach dont be happy or sad, be in between. i am a film maker( of course scared to death to plunge into my dreams) once a monk persuaded me to turn to monk hood “we need young people too” i like the idea of monkhood and the dedication to it ofcourse, but even though tempted i t htought i cant get seriously into it, if i want to pursue my dreams to make films….story tellers need to suffer! they cant let go of emotions, but knowing myself i really need to discipline…
    i have heard you been lazy too in your early years….can you please write something about your struggling years and of the humiliation in society to make it as an artist1
    thank you

  15. I agree with you that failures does help you focus…and its nice to sit and think of your struggling days when you have eventually made it…but there are some for whom the struggle has just gone that extra mile, and the fingers keeping the arrow focussed on the bow are just a bit wobbly now…how does one be comfortable with ones failure in such a situation…I agree we all have to fall to be able to rise at some point…but what about the ones who don’t rise…blame it on destiny? Is there somthing called destiny at all?! Am I a pessimist or a realist?

  16. Ye tho nahi keh raheh aap ki…
    failure lets u take a back seat and lets u recollect urself, breath to strike again with stronger force…
    Its like a method of breaking free for a while n u permit failure to filter, to let u soar again, theres no other way than this, as success becomes a habit and then ur character, where can one sit in peace, in this silence/failure the stillness questions you and you question that stillness…
    is there really anything called failure?I feel failure aap jaiso ke liye ek alag kisam ki victory hai, the way i feel..maybe i am wrong, difference of opinion is always there hai na?
    Chalo bahut bolti hu kabhi kabhi….aapko fursat thori hogi sabko parne ko samajne ko lol, no issues aram kariye….
    Take care…

  17. Sometimes failure is an acute perception than a gross reality…it’s one’s heightened awareness of one’s profound limitations…there are many guys who are gross failures… those guys who lack the talent,the resoluteness,the know-how usually beckons the failure, but it doesn’t usually fire their creativity..instead it makes them bitter, cynical or plain insecure…but you may be at the top of the world, but u still feel inside that bottomless void called failure…this ‘failure’ springs up from one’s awareness of limitations of the human existence in general, which can be acutely painful…such an ‘internal’ failure can make u very sensitive, very self-aware…ironically, this ability to be self-aware too may be one form of talent, which can make u successful or perhaps spiritual…..

  18. Hi Shekhar,
    Amazingly quoted!!!
    I’m 23 but can deeply empathise your vent….
    I experienced academic failure, it came to me recently, i hated its entry, it was almost suicidal to get along wid it…i howeva sustained, Happily!!!
    My religious faith came to my rescue. It showed me the glittering sparks coying around failure…it felt wonderful to be introduced to them at an age when my life had literally jus begun!!! I could find no excuse to sit back n cry, i tried to gain from this new experience by giving sumtym out to my suppressed talents…there was almost a year to go b4 my sceduled compartmental exam you see..!!!
    I resorted to my hobbies which were left alienated since junior school days…!
    …and thats when i found true happiness, true luxury…my life is set!!!
    Today, Alhumdolillah, im working for a Software solutions (limited) company which is an aspiring MNC; though still striving the same academic boat…here i hold a post which may most likely leave good MBA guys wid a green eye!!! Graduation may come in its own time but success is not yearned for anymore, know why…I love to fall back on my days of “lost hopes”…they’ve given me lots, but my thirst is insatiable…I wan some more…so you know i dont strive for success…I wan some more…!!!

  19. Dear Shekhar,
    I have just spent several hours reading through the blogs here on your site. Thank you so much for this blog on failure. And actually, I didn’t know whether to post this comment in this thread or the one titled “talent” or a number of other ones, as many of them speak to where some of my thoughts are currently.
    What you said in the “talent” blog — the idea that it is a gift — that it can never be yours — that “it is as if someone loaned you the gift to tap into a universal creativity” — this all makes so much sense to me. And I would add to that, that it’s not only a gift in the sense that it is GIVEN to the one bestowed with talent; but it is the responsibility of the one bestowed with talent to GIVE that talent back to the world.
    What you also said about talent being taken away “if abused” resonates too. And I wonder if talent can be taken away if abused by outside forces … or are we ultimately responsible because even though we may not choose our environment, we choose what our responses to our environment are?
    I believe all art is autobiographical in some way. And I don’t feel like I’ve made any “art” for several years now. I recently completed a grad program in theatre (god I hope no one who knows me is reading this … they probably aren’t =). The experience was something I would never have imagined it would be and certainly not what was promised in “the brochure” — that is, an environment where one really had to guard the instincts, passion, ideas, thoughts and self-esteem they first walked in the door with. A number of my now dear friends left that environment no longer knowing who they are as artists. Myself included. And a number of them no longer believe that they are artists or even have talent at all, which makes me sad.
    I feel like I am on a search to find myself now — to rediscover myself. I hope that what I am currently experiencing is that tautness you speak of — that the tension I am feeling is the tautness of that bow being stretched back as far as it will go and that soon the hand that holds it will release it. And am I that hand? That’s the question.

  20. ???? ?? ????? ???? ?? ???? ????…
    Sometimes the best thing in the world is your personal space and all you get tonnes of advice which are useless until you be there with you for sometime..
    Divya Prakash Dubey

  21. The idea behind this for all of us to come down to earth, what really matters is us, achievement is just an ego booster, cooperation is key. Work well and you will achieve what you wanted. Give respect and you gain respect. You win or loose doesn’t matter, what matters is how you won.
    sometimes we all prove the Gita and krishna are right and Ram too. The path taken for victory also matters.

  22. Hello Shekharji,
    You written very nice article about failure. Enjoy reading it… Keep posting this kind of Articles…
    Thanks for written fantasticly,

  23. Hi
    failure is inevitable..and something which is always there in my subconscious whenever i look forward of doing some of the most important things of life..toiling to get a top seat in best acad institution–>i failed in first attempt got in the 2nd; aspired for the best co. to work for–>failed in first attempt but got it in 2nd..and same for MBA..and career thereafter..some of the most important things i have got in my 2nd attempts…and everytime I have learned from my failures about myself more and more. A
    bout an year back i had the biggest setback in my personal life when i ended up with a cancelled engagement and marriage and subsequently a broken and lost forever relationship with bitter memories. all the failures of my past have actually helped me a lot to get over this setback and be more resilient. .. with a positive hope of the 2nd attempt (which has been fruitful for me in all phases of my life till now):)
    Had it not been for the past failures, I wouldnt have been able to cope up from this one…
    Just felt like failures have made me stronger and more certain about myself than my successes πŸ™‚

  24. Shekhar, I have a written a short book based on the Story of the Prodigal Son. Talk about metaphor, it is a badly needed retelling. All along I have seen it as a movie in my mind’s eye. I can shoot you a copy of what I have to date. I am not really interested in making money so much as making a movie that touches peoples hearts, giving them permission to relax and discover that there is no hell to pay.
    Peace, Oh Be

  25. That’s really great about you.

    That mean “DOWN TO EaRTH”.

    “Hum kahan se aye hain or koan hain? agar bhool gaye to khud ki pahachaan bhool gaye”

    With Regards,

    Karan Raj Singh

  26. I remember finding myself sixth grade choir along with we did a disney medley of songs and it was the most fun Pondered in choir. Arabian Evenings, Become Our Guest, Kiss the Girl, Beneath the Sea would be the ones that arrived at memory from them. They need to bring some with the movies out of this damn Disney vault.

  27. The tension has to be appropriate . If its excessive the bow may break and there is a possibility for the arrow never to be shot

  28. i was in third or fourth grade when i saw khandan in doordarshan. later on mahanagar made me you my constant remembrance your style charisma eyes all get absorbed in my whole personality. very late i realized you are the director of masoom mr india . celebrated when you married suchitra perfect match punjabi munda & madrasi kudi. felt devastated when you divorced. till today you are very much in my remembrance. one of my wish to meet you in this life. because you are one of the reason of my existence.
    shashi nair

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