By Saurabh Gandhi:
We have seen documentaries which teach us about real world issues. We have seen fictional movies which teach us about broad-based philosophical principles like courage and love. But rarely do we come across a movie which sheds light on the little practical lessons of life, all the while remaining true to the central philosophical principle which is its theme. The Pursuit Of Happyness (2006) is one such movie. The movie is based on a real life story. May be that is the reason why it is perfectly able to balance the two P’s of life.
Instead of giving you a summary of what the movie is all about, here we take a look at four scenes from the movie, which teach us, specially “college students”, something or the other about life (both practical and philosophical), even 7 years after its release.
#1 —We need to ask ourselves — “Why can’t our lives be better?”
Okay, let’s do the introductions first. The man that you see on the left is Chris Gardner, the protagonist of the movie – a middle aged man with a wife and a five year old son, whose job is to go around convincing doctors to buy a bone density scanner. He can hardly pay his rent with the proceeds of this device.
Now, let’s cut to the scene. On his way to his usual sales calls, he sees a man who pulls up in an expensive sports car. Chris: “I just have two questions for you. What do you do, and how do you do it?” The man responds, “I am a stock broker.” Chris: “Have to go to college to be a stock broker, right?” Man: “Not necessarily. You just have to be good with numbers and good with people.”
The man heads to his office, leaving Chris amidst a sea of smiling stock brokers, wondering to himself: “They all look so damn happy to me. Why couldn’t I look like that?”
That thinking is coming from a person who has not gone to a college! And we, who have all the necessities of life (luxuries too, for many) often get satisfied with as little as a Facebook like. I am not saying we need to be greedy, but we must not let mediocrity become integral to all parts of our life.
#2 — We need to prove ourselves!
We see that Chris Gardner is now thinking beyond sales. He wants to be a stock broker. But as mentioned earlier, he doesn’t even have a college education. So what can he do to fulfil his new found dream?
In this scene, Chris is with the Resource Head of Dean Witter, a stock broking firm. Chris had seen a flyer about an internship offered by the firm, whereby he could become a stock broker. He knew his application would not even be considered so he wanted to personally convince the man about his potential. They are in a cab, and Chris is going on and on about how he can handle tough situations but the man is busy solving the Rubik’s Cube (seen in the picture) and hardly listens to Chris.
What Chris does is proclaims that he can solve it. Obviously, the man is not convinced but still hands it to him. Even the cab driver looks at Chris with derision. But slowly, Chris gets going and solves the puzzle by the time the man reaches his destination. This leaves a good impression on the Dean Witter guy, who later on offers Chris an opportunity to appear for an interview. In this age, where we don’t have the handicap of not having a college degree, we have stiff competition making it more important for us to prove ourselves.
#3 — We can’t get bogged down by difficulties!
We know Chris has this one chance to get this internship — the interview. Now, ideally one would be all suited up for an occasion like this. But this is the way in which Chris was dressed for the interview.
Actually, in order to grasp why Chris was dressed like this we need to know what happened earlier. The night before this interview, Chris’ wife had left him, frustrated by their financial problems. Add to that the fact that the landlord wanted to throw Chris out but had agreed to let him stay for a week more if Chris painted the house, which was what he was doing when the police knocked on his door and arrested him for not paying numerous parking tickets.
He was only released the next morning. And he ran to the office for the interview. The more interesting part comes here. He says to the interviewers: “Can I say something? Um, I’m the type of person that if you ask me a question and I don’t know the answer, I’m gonna tell you that I don’t know. But I bet you what, I know how to find the answer and I will find the answer.”
One of the interviewers asks him: “What would you say if a man walked in here with no shirt, and I hired him? What would you say?”
Chris: “He must have had on some really nice pants.”
#4 – Don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t do something.
This is probably the best scene in the movie. It’s a Saturday and Chris takes his son to play basketball. His son is really into the game and in spite of being so small, gets the ball into the basket. Chris tries to do the same but fails. He then tells his son, that there will be things in which he can excel but basketball is not one of them so he should not waste his time playing around with the ball. He goes on to add that he himself had been mediocre in the game and that the son could not be any better than the father.
Hearing this, his son is disappointed and starts packing the ball. Chris realizes his mistake and says the following words which become the soul of the movie:
“Don’t ever let someone tell you, you can’t do something. Not even me. You got a dream, you got to protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they want to tell you, you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. Period. All right?”
These are just a few inspiring scenes from the movie. The whole feel of the movie is surely ‘feel good’ but unlike other feel good movies which leave you with a sense of emptiness after, this one surely shows the way.